More than 30 restaurants opened in Broward and Palm Beach counties in the past 12 months. All are notable additions to the dining scene, but these five deserve a special nod for their unique concept, atmosphere and, oh yes, the food.
By Rebecca Cahilly
Kuro Japanese Restaurant, Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
1 Seminole Way, Hollywood
Have you ever had a meal so unique, surprising, delicious and fun you felt like hugging everybody on the way out? I did after my first dining experience at Kuro – and, no, that’s not the craft cocktails served with the meal talking.
The concept here is farm-fresh ingredients transformed into contemporary, artisanal Japanese dishes. Is there sushi? Yes. Tempura? Certainly. But when dining at Kuro, I would suggest letting the knowledgeable servers be your culinary guides. They made us feel we were the only people in the restaurant and that they had all the time in the world to chat, answer questions and personalize our experience.
Our meal began with Executive Chef Alex Becker’s Hokkaido Scallop Sashimi, with yuzu, pickled ginger, sea salt and a yummy little edible violet garnish. Then came Tuna Tataki and Wagyu Tacos, with spicy cilantro, soy shallots and aji Amarillo aioli; and then Uni Tempura. After some Japanese Wagyu Beef and Hamachi Pepper Maki, we were presented with a selection of desserts that included Kuro Goma Panna Cotta, a collection of exotic ingredients – ginger gelée, cucumber pearl, pomegranate foam and nori sponge – served in a stone bowl. We tasted and nibbled it all, murmuring “awesome’’ and “amazing’’ throughout.
45 S. Ocean Way, Deerfield Beach
Chanson – the French word for “song” – is music to a dining lover’s ears.
Situated on the ground floor of the Royal Blues Hotel – the first, and only, Relais & Chateaux hotel in Florida – Chanson is a symphony of French-inspired dishes in a chic setting just steps from the ocean. But beyond the inventive menu and elegant atmosphere, Chanson has personality – namely that of its hands-on owner, Hollywood filmmaker and Broadway producer/director Edward Walson, perhaps best known as producer of Woody Allen films.
“Deerfield Beach harkens back to the 1960s California culture,” says Walson, who oversaw every detail of Chanson and the 12-room boutique hotel that opened in December. He fondly recalls family vacations spent in the area and says the hotel and restaurant were longtime dreams in the making.
Every detail here is thoughtfully considered by Walson and Executive Chef Sylvain Noel, from the music playlist to the handmade silverware to the health-conscious menu items to the s’mores dessert served with the scent of a campfire.
“Artists and, in general, people should challenge themselves to do more interesting things,” says Walson of the evolving menu. “We plan to keep it interesting.”
Louie Bossi’s Ristorante Bar Pizzeria
1032 E. Las Olas Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
Louie Bossi is the kind of chef who makes you excited about food. Largely self-taught, his zest for cooking is nothing less than contagious.
When we heard that Big Time Restaurant Group (BTRG) – owners of City Oyster & Sushi Bar in Delray Beach, Grease Burger & Whiskey Bar and City Cellar Wine Bar & Grill in West Palm Beach, Rocco’s Tacos, and Big City Tavern, where Bossi was executive chef – was planning a new restaurant for Fort Lauderdale, we waited breathlessly for the opening. The wait was worth it.
Situated in the former SoLita space on Las Olas Boulevard, Louie Bossi’s features a renovated interior with streetside patio seating and a charming courtyard around back for dining or a drink and some bocce ball around a crackling fire pit. It fills the need for a happening downtown lunch spot, after-work happy hour or family Sunday brunch place.
Above and beyond the cool atmosphere and energetic vibe is the team in the open kitchen – headed by Chef Louie and BTRG Corporate Chef Lisabet Summa – hand crafting the pastas, pizzas, salumi and traditional Italian dishes. The list of housemade items here is impressive, from the pasta – all 13 types – to the breads and pizza dough, to the gelatos, pastries and cookies, and a mouthwatering selection of salumi.
Chef Louie has worked his way up the ranks in BTRG kitchens over the past 15 years, learning on the hoof and going above and beyond to create the best and most authentic dishes. His star continues to rise here.
900 Silks Run Road, Hallandale Beach
Frank Stronach may be best known for the horse racetracks he owns around the country, but he has another, equally consuming passion: Sustainable food. This year, Stronach unveiled Adena Grill at Gulfstream Park, a dining concept built on his philosophy, “You are what you eat.”
His Adena Farms, encompassing nearly 90,000 acres in Ocala, shares his mantra and sources produce for Stronach’s two Gulfstream-based restaurants, Frankey’s Sports Bar and the new Adena Grill. “We have a deep-seated philosophy in regards to the meats we process,” he says, “no pain to the animals, no hormones and no antibiotics. Our cows are grass-fed and roam free on thousands of acres. Our chickens, turkeys, pigs and sheep have very large free-range grazing facilities.”
Adena fits the bill in terms of décor, meeting the need for an upscale dining offering at which to share a meal before an evening at the casino. The adjacent wine lounge invites convivial conversation over a glass of wine and a plate of artisanal cheese and housemade charcuterie.
What do we like most about Adena? The concept, the décor, the food and the service. From the hostess through to the bartenders, the staff is well trained, friendly and professional. The menu is a bit pricier than its Gulfstream neighbors, but for this farm girl, naturally raised, hormone and antibiotic-free meat is worth it.
Juniper on the Water
1975 S. Ocean Drive, Hallandale Beach
It’s not easy to find Juniper on the Water – a hidden gem in Hallandale Beach – but worth the effort.
The former Joseph’s on the Water site emerged from a year-long renovation last December. The restaurant, now serving a New American-Mediterranean menu emphasizing seafood, has a 70-foot dock for boaters and seating for 220 in a spacious and tastefully decorated waterfront setting.
We took a seat on the patio overlooking the Intracoastal and started with the grilled prawns before moving on to a lamb shank and New York strip served in a light cognac sauce with steak fries. While Juniper may not offer an exceptionally unique dining concept, it gets our nod for a well balanced combination of quality ingredients, decor and professional service.
And, above all, a location on-the-water you’ll want to share with all out-of-state friends and family.