Thank you to all the south florida hounds for the great chow info. I'm usually good for at least one trip a winter, this year it will be three, so I will have one more report to file. Trip one was solo but this time it was a family trip so it was quite different. For no particular reason I will do this report from North to South.
Chez Jean Pierre in Palm Beach. Classic upper crust joint, but the food was very good. At 9:00 on a Monday night the place was packed, by 9:45 it was us and one other table. When I commented to my wife that we were the only people in the place under 50 she corrected me believing us to be the only people under 60. I should have worn a blue blazer with brass buttons. The place is huge and very comfortable with well spaced tables. Service was curt but utterly professional. Onion soup was excellent though the wife thought it a little to sweet, maybe it was the sherry. Country pate was very rough and thick and good. Lobster fricase was tasty with a good variety of vegetables and it was a large portion. My coq au van was excellent. All dark meat with a dark long simmered sauce, I was very impressed. Finished with a pedestrian lemon tart and coffee. Not cheap but pretty good.
Havana 6801 south Dixie west palm. Terrific. For a visitor it could not be easier to find, right of 95. Place looked small but was actually quite large with two levels. Tostones were huge and really good. In NY, Dominican and Puerto Rican joints make them much smaller, I was shocked at how large they were. The mojo was great. The chicharrones were as good as I have ever had. Perfectly fried, moist inside while retaining the tase of the marinade. Maduros, rice and beans all good. Bistec palomino was salty and tasty., The only dud was the pernil sandwich. The meat was minced very fine and did not have much taste. Guanabana shake was thick and good. Really good food, cheap and in a nice setting.
Bellagio At City Place. Not my choice. Stay far away. My hopes were lifted when I saw they had a wood burning oven. Soon my hopes were dashed.I would not have believed you could make such bad pizza in a wood burning oven. One bite and my non chowhound, always positive wife took one look at me and said," you are going to be very unhappy, it tastes like pizza hut". Gummy crust with bad sauce. I tried the "award winning" tiramisu, it stunk. A bit of cake with a huge topping of something white and tasteless.
Mrs Chris- Atlantic ave Delray. I go here every year for a soul food fix on the way back from the beach. Expertly fried chicken, solid mac and cheese and collards. This time I tried the crab cake.It was a little to greasy but tasty with red pepper studding the cake. Lemonade tastes like a mix but the banana pudding is gooey and satisfying.Perlo rice was a waste, nothing special at all.
Tom Jenkins- Ft. Lauderdale. The reports of its demise are greatly exaggerated. Love the pork spare ribs and all the sides.Sauce on the side, always. Hate the desserts. I should bring a piece of pie from Georgia Pig with me when I eat there.
Eduardo De San Angel- Ft Lauderdale. I really like this place. I can't think of another place that does what they do, and they do it well. The place is a little to kitchy for me what with fake windows, and the "private dining" rooms are nothing more then well decorated modular walls, but the food is what will bring me back. The agave wine margarita was very tasty. Had a nice glass of wine from Argentina, I think. For apps we had the florida blue crab corn cake. Very tasty but it could have been any kind of crab. Also had the cactus paddle and pork,interesting and good. It was my first taste of cactus. It was hard to eat as the cactus paddle was very stiff but the meat was well marinated and the sauces were sharp and good. The chile sauce was particularly hot but it is spread on the plate so you can avoid it if you want. For the main course it was a crusted fish for my wife that she enjoyed and the over the top cheese, peppers and onions stuffed filet for me. I usually avoid filet in favor of ribeye as I find filet a little boring, but it is the perfect choice for this dish. It is a gooey tasty mess. The mole it came with was like icing on the cake. Dessert was berries and pre- made zabaione. I also have to say a word about the service, it was awesome. My wife who loves tamales and mushrooms noticed the lamb chop entree came with an exotic mushroom tamale. To my surprise she asked the waiter if she could have one as an appetizer. Without hesitation and despite the embarrassed look on my face the waiter said very simply, "whatever we can serve you to make you happy we will do". He brought it out with the appetizers and it was great.
Chef Allens- Adventura. A really good meal but my expectations were to high. I was expecting a Bouley or Le Bernardin level meal but it came up a little short. Upon arrival we were quickly seated. It was not a prime location and we offered the chance for another table if we were willing to wait a few minutes, we declined but the offer was appreciated. The mojito I started with was good and huge, but for $12 it should be. No amuse bouche, I was dissapointed. Nothing to nibble on while looking over the menu. We started with the lobster and macaroni. It was good but the sauce sounded better then it actually tasted, a good dish but not special. The bahamian lobster and crab cake was delicious, the vanilla sauce was excellent as was the fruit chutney. It was at this point that we realized they had not served us any bread. I mentioned it to the waiter who sent over a guy with a basket of bread and he was not sure what he had. He said he thought it was a sourdough and a wheat, but he was not very confident. For entrees my wife had the maine lobster paella and it was very good, the lobster was cooked perfectly, melt n your mouth tender. It came with a delicious saffron risotto, why they call it paella is lost on me. It was a great seafood risotto. I had the duck, perfectly cooked breast with some very rich fatty duck confit and creamy mashed potato with yet another delicious fruit sauce,this time apricot. Finished with the incredibly decadent chocolate hazelnut kit kat bars and a great dish of warm banana with banana macadamia nut ice cream and a wonderful salty caramel sauce. I like the fact that the place has a view of the kitchen but the room seems a little worn, a little tired. I wanted to meet the chef but I was told he was in South Beach for the wine and food festival.It was a fun evening of really good food in a style that it not very common in New York, so I was very glad I went.
Hosteria Romano- Ocean Drive South Beach. I stayed at Hotel Ocean last year and had a bad experience with the restaurant so I was happy to see that Hosteria the place I had planned on eating at had opened a branch on Ocean Drive. This was good for the kids (shorter walk) and good for the wife (on ocean drive for better people watching). What a disapointment. The waiters spontaneously yelling and banging utensils is obnoxious. Pata fagioli soup was huge and boring, we didn't finish it. Ceasar was drenched in lemon and was left unfinished. Risotto was soupy and poorly cooked and left unfinished. Pasta bolognese was almost devoid of meat and was mostly a thin watery sauce. Ziti with eggplant was the lone winner with a tangy sauce and properly cooked eggplant. We finished with more bad tiramisu. Next time I will try Macalusos. Just another bad restaurant on Ocean Drive.
Puerto Sagua- South Beach- Good reliable cuban food. Pernil sandwich was full of good size pieces of pork with a little fatty skin and onions on well toasted bread. Rice, beans ,tostones and maduros all good. Only problem was the waiter. My wife asked for pollo guisado and he said they did not have it and he directed her to the roast chicken instead. When I got the bill I saw it was like $12 and the same dish came as a daily special with sides for half that. It is one thing if she picks it on her own but it was wrong of the waiter to direct her to the more expensive version on the menu. Food is so good we went back the next day.
Miscellaneos notes: Way Beyond Bagels on Jog Road in Boca should be called Way Beyond Bad Bagels. Cheesecake Factory does really good "sliders". Front Porch in sobe is nothing special.
Once again, thanks for all the great chow information. I know this is too long but I do enjoy recounting the chow. In one respect I feel bad for you Florida hounds. Your board is inundated with requests from visitors for help but almost none of them post reports. You guys deserve better.See you in April.