Sunday, December 30, 2012

Destination Grand Lux Cafe: B.B.Q. Pork Sliders & Green Chile-Cheese Cornbread

I have a need to go small (for the sake of having variety) but still have the need to go big, so I combined two complimentary small plates; the BBQ Pork Sliders and the Green Chile-Cheese Cornbread for what I thought would be a great meal. A little taste of the South if you will. 

I thought ooh-wee when I first laid my eyes on the BBQ Pork Sliders but taste wise, it just was not for me. The BBQ sauce was too sweet and I for one like my sauce cooked into the meat and not just slathered on top like this was. You don't get to savor the taste of the meat when it is done like this and frankly the pulled pork didn't have much of the smoked flavor I was expecting. The meat was relatively tender, the bun was lightly toasted and the coleslaw added a nice touch, it just fell short for me. 

The skillet corn bread wasn't a hit either. It was too thin and although the texture was nice and it wasn't dry, for it to be advertised as Green Chile-Cheese Cornbread not just regular cornbread, I was expecting a more pungent taste of the chili and I couldn't exactly taste it. I was expecting it to be special and it wasn't.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Dollar Mania Wednesdays at 100 Montaditos in Pembroke Pines (Other Locations)

What is Dollar Mania you ask? Wednesday Dollar Mania is where booze (wine and beer), montaditos (mini sandwiches) and everything else on the menu except platters and salads are just a dollar at 100 Montaditos. Yes, $1. To me it means tapas and a bargain, so count me in on that.

The restaurant is self service. The best thing to do since it gets really packed, especially on Wednesdays, is to first grab a table. At the table, you can go over the menu and figure out what you want to order before going up to the counter. It may take some time to figure it out when you have over 100 choices to choose from. Once you place your order, they will call you when your food is ready.

The food itself isn't so spectacular, but everything is $1 and with so much choices, you have to expect that there are going to be some misses but there are a few hits in the bunch. Out of the all the montaditos I have sampled so far, the Calamari with Ali Oli is my favorite. The Brava Potatoes also are really good too. Again, at $1 the beer, wine and sangria aren't quality but can you expect that at such a price? Put it this way, I've had the same quality at a higher price point so I am satisfied with what I got in that respect. The sandwiches are small (but you can fill up on 2-3 or if your greedy 4-6). The drinks are regular sized which is awesome.

With such high traffic and turn around, they are very good at maintaining the cleanliness of the restaurant. As soon as someone leaves, they come around and clear the table for the next customers. However, as good as they are at doing that, wouldn't it make sense to also restock the table with napkins, menus and order sheets at the same time?

I would sum up this place as quantity over quality. It is more about getting a great deal than receiving quality food. Not saying the food is bad, but your not leaving thinking that this was the best sandwich you ever ate. In addition to their Wednesday mania, on Thursdays beers and sangria are $1, but everyday is a pretty good deal since all the montaditos are under $3 and almost everything else is under $6 (except the beer buckets and wine by the bottle).

100 Montaditos
Pembroke Lakes Square
175 North Hiatus Road, Pembroke Pines, FL 33026
(954) 353-3390

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Monday, December 17, 2012

Tarpon Bend: Happy Hour Hot Spot in Coral Gables

If you want to get it popping on a Friday night, Tarpon Bend has got you. When I arrived around 6/7 I was thinking, happy hour, lowkey, drinks by the bar. However, I approached what appeared to be a club scene; long line, packed wall to wall and scantily clad girls, who I hope don't go to work dressed like that. I almost had the urge to turn back but realized people were just outside enjoying their festivities since the restaurant was already so full. After making up our minds to stay, we were going to just get in where we fit in, but my friend was starving and wanted to eat something so we put our name on the list to be seated and then made our way to the bar to partake in the happy hour 2-for-1 drink special (M-F from 3-9pm, Sat 3-7pm).

We ordered a few round of drinks during our time there and I have to say that considering the deal, they were really good drinks especially the mojito but the wine not so much. I hate when you go someplace and because they are discounting you, they just water down the drinks to stretch their dollar. They don't do that here.

After a not so long of a wait (considering the ridiculous amount of people), we were called to our table. Our server isn't worth noting as was the service because it was so busy, but he was efficient despite the scene. He just really didn't have too much time for pleasantries but at least he had a smile on his face while serving us and I can't say that for many others servers I have had. Anyways, my friend ended up ordering the Key West Shrimp Sandwich. It was good but nothing to rave about.

After finishing her sandwich, she was craving sweets so we ended up ordering the Warm Pecan Brownie. I didn't find it to be great, the brownie was a little too dry.

Happy Hour at Tarpon Bend was definitely legendary yet I have a hard time placing my opinion of this place. As a happy hour spot, I felt more like I was in a night club then having drink by the bar which throws me off. Yet, if I look at it from a night club stand point, the music isn't there and the atmosphere seems lackluster. However, the drinks were good and I had a good time, so I definitely want to come again but more for happy hour than lunch or dinner. 

Worth noting is Mojito Madness Thursdays with $3.50 fresh mojitos all day long! That might be a better time for someone like to to stop by. Also, they have an additional location in Fort Lauderdale.

Tarpon Bend - Coral Gables
65 Miracle Mile Coral Gables, FL 33134
(305) 444-3210

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Entretapas Restaurant & Market: Serving Spanish Cuisine in Weston, FL

I was working hard (sort of) when I started to get that lunchtime itch. I wasn't in the mood to do the usual and I really wanted to try someplace new, have some ethic food and not have to venture too far, so I spent a few minutes researching restaurants for lunch in the area. I found a spot close by called Entretapas. I got excited since it was Spanish food and even more so when I saw they had paella for lunch.

The lady at the front was very sweet and helpful in me ordering my food. She made sure I had everything and talked to me a little bit about the restaurant. In addition to the restaurant, they also have a little market where you can purchase meats and cheeses. They also offer delivery on their website to those out of state. So although I wasn't dining in, I was assured that they are very hospitable.

For the convenience of lunch diners, the paella is pre-made since it obviously takes a really long time to cook. They have two choices available for lunch. I went with the Paella Valenciana (mixed fish, seafood, chicken and vegetables). It was alright but needed a little bit more flavor so I added some of my Scotch bonnet hot sauce to bring out the flavor. It was so pretty but average tasting. For it to be considered their main dish it needed some work, but for the price, the portion was good and allowed me lunch for two days.

On the menu, it is stated that the paella would come with a salad, but I was given the option of getting a soup. I choose the Lentil Soup and flavor wise it was much better than the paella itself. A surprise addition I wasn't expecting.

Since I ordered take-out I didn't get to experience the complete essence of the restaurant and although the food wasn't to expectations, the staff was very nice and I have such a love for Spanish cuisine (and nothing else like it is in the area) that I would love to come back and try something else.

Entretapas Restaurant & Market
74 Indian Trace Weston, FL 33326
(954) 385-3262

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Lemongrass Asian Bistro - Fort Lauderdale, FL

I think I have eaten enough Asian food for the entire population of a small country in my lifetime. With that said, it was necessary that I continue my gluttony for Asian cuisine and head on over to Lemongrass Asian Bistro for an early dinner.

Lemongrass Asian Bistro is a pretty casual restaurant but with hints of fine dining elements and design. In addition to the small but beautiful indoor dining area there's also an outdoor patio. The outdoor patio is more like an enclosed area of tables overlooking passing traffic, but if being outside is your thing, it is sufficient enough. They tried to add some pizazz but it comes across as a little cheesy. The indoor dining area is much nicer and aesthetically pleasing.

With Asian restaurants being a dime a dozen it is often hard to decipher what sets one apart from the next. For Lemongrass Asian Bistro it is the service. Our waitress was extremely attentive always keeping watch to ensure that our water was always refilled, the table was cleared when we finished our plates and our food was brought out quickly. She was attentive to the point where it could have been too much, but it's better to have than to be without.

Apparently you can't go Asian without sushi and it seems Mexican too, hence me ordering the Mexican Rolls. Mexican Rolls aren't the fancy kind so it was far from exceptional but the rice on the rolls were good and so was the flavoring.

The crème de la crème of my dining experience was the Dynamite Tower. In other words, baked seafood, mayo, sesame seeds and masago over sushi rice. It was hot, tender and flaky, fluffy rice, amazing flavor and scrumptious.

The Hawaiian Dancer failed to deliver. The Hawaiian Dancer sounded so good on paper; scallops, chicken, pineapple, carrots, snow peas, bell peppers, and cashews in a tamarind sauce. It was a solid dish of fresh ingredients, but I felt that it needed a little bit more spice and fell a little flat in the flavor department. Presentation wise it was cool that it was served in the pineapple skin and made me even more excited to chow down, which is what probably heightened my disappointment. The amount of rice that it came with was a very small, but it also came with a house salad with choice of dressing, my choice being peanut dressing. The dressing appeared to be natural; it was chunky and you could taste the actual peanuts in it.

Lemongrass Asian Bistro has four locations within the Broward and Palm Beach area, so if the Fort Lauderdale location isn't in your near vicinity you can always check out one of their other locations. What I like about Lemongrass Asian Bistro is that they offer a spin on classic Asian dishes set in a warm and inviting environment.

Lemongrass Asian Bistro

3811 North Federal Highway Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308
(954) 564-4422

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Local Craft Food and Drink - Coral Gables, FL

The Local Craft Food and Drink is definitely a locals spot. Not overly small but a cozy establishment where most of the people seem to know one another, which made me, the newbie, feel a little out of place but still, I liked the atmosphere. The downfall of not being a regular, our waiter who was nice and helpful at the start, stopped giving us much attention once the place began to fill up.

The Local is a gastropub with a great selection of craft beers (bottled and on tap). Instead of having all the drinks displayed on a typical paper menu, they have huge chalkboards on the wall with their daily drink specials and beer options. It's pretty cool but also a hassle since depending on your seating, you have to get up and read the board, but why not work off at least 1 of those calories you are going to gain from the beer/drink you finally decide on.

Cigar City Maduro Brown Ale
Brooklyn Stout
Hunahpu Imperial Stout

To complement the great beers is a well thought out menu of food. The Local doesn't offer your ordinary bar food but delicious gourmet dishes. I am Mussels obsessed, so I ordered the Steamed Mussel. Sounds boring right but actually these are steamed in a broth made of house-cured pork belly/mushroom/shiro miso beurre fondue. This was by far some of the best mussels I've ever had in my life. The broth was superduper amazingly delicious! 

My friend decided to order the Fish and Chips. The dish wasn't bad but like most fish and chips it was pretty bland, lacked flavor and was an overall boring dish even with it being beer battered. However, the batter was light and crispy with a nice crunch on the bite. The hand cut fries were a bit overcooked.

The Coral Gables area has quite a bit of bars/pubs/restaurants that are suitable for food and drinks, but the allure of The Local is that it offers a more low-key around the corner atmosphere and of course an awesome beer selection.

The Local Craft Food and Drink
150 Giralda Avenue  Coral Gables, FL 33134  
(305) 648-5687

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