Florida Dining: Versailles

May 10, 2013

Versailles Restaurant
3555 SW 8th St Miami, FL 33135
(305) 444-0240

Web Site: http://www.versaillesrestaurant.com

Full-size photo gallery available on Flickr

If there’s one iconic Cuban restaurant in Miami, and if you ask anyone where the center of activity is for food on Calle Ocho past 9PM, then that place is Versailles.

Like the French palace from which it gets its name, Versailles is a HUGE restaurant. On weekends and in prime dining hours the place gets absolutely packed with people, including large number of out of towners looking for authentic Cuban food.

This is where Cuban food gets real in Miami. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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Florida Dining: Yardbird

March 16, 2013

Yardbird Southern Table & Bar
1600 Lenox Avenue
Miami Beach, Florida
305.538.5220

Web Site: http://runchickenrun.com

Since moving to South Florida in July of 2012, I haven’t really done much with investigating the local fine dining scene. My food blogging activities have been more or less curtailed by my new job, and also by focusing more on technology writing.

But now that things have become a bit less crazy, I’m easing myself back into the food blogger seat again.

There was no better opportunity to do this than with a recent business lunch I had with two like-minded foodie colleagues, who suggested we meet at Yardbird, a modern Southern restaurant in South Beach.

Yardbird, which was a 2012 James Beard Award Semi-Finalist for Best New Restaurant, and was named one of the 50 Best New Restaurants in 2012 at Bon Appetit Magazine, is definitely a destination for anyone looking to indulge in updated, classic Southern American fare.

I would compare Yardbird favorably to places like the very excellent JCT Kitchen in Atlanta, as well as any number of well-known “New South” type places in New Orleans, such as Luke.

The main dining room at Yardbird is bright and warm, mixing southern hospitality with Miami chic.

It’s time to head to South Beach for the winter. Be sure to check out Yardbird. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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Seattle Dining: 13 Coins

December 15, 2012

13 Coins
18000 International Boulevard
SeaTac, WA
(206) 243-9500

Web Site: http://www.13coins.com

You may have heard lately that I changed jobs. Part of that will entail occasional travel to the Seattle/Redmond/Bellevue metro area.

I’m just starting to get familiar with the food scene in Seattle. Fortunately I have a bunch of foodie friends on Twitter who have been really helpful in pointing me to some good places to eat.

However, sometimes you find stuff just by pure luck. Or in my case, the Google Local app for iPhone.

See, I was going to meet a bunch of folks for an early dinner on my last night in Seattle, but State Route 520, the main artery that connects Bellevue and Redmond with Seattle decided not to cooperate. The traffic was, shall we say, horrendous.

Not wanting to miss a 10PM departure out of SeaTac, I headed directly for the airport, hoping I would find a decent place to eat nearby. Out of pure luck, the Google Local app told me that there was a restaurant four minutes away from the rental car return facility that had a ZAGAT rating of 24.

Being that I was extremely hungry and any chance of a hot meal that wasn’t served in some crowded concession in SeaTac appealed to me greatly, I didn’t even bother to read the entry on Google. I just plugged in the address on Google Maps for iPhone and headed straight there. In situations such as this, when research time is at a premium and you are stuck in your car, in ZAGAT we trust.

I’m not sure exactly how I would describe 13 Coins. It’s sort of a crazy meld between a 24-hour diner, a steakhouse, a delicatessen and an Italian-American restaurant. The menu is incredibly diverse.

One of the main features of the restaurant is a huge bar that faces an open kitchen. I have to estimate that the bar is about 50 feet long. The bar seats are actually massive leather captain’s chairs rather than barstools, and they will comfortably hold even the heftiest patrons. As they should, because the portions at this place are massive.

Some serious old school food awaits at 13 Coins. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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NYC Dining: Taste of Prime Tavern (LGA)

September 30, 2012

Taste of Prime Tavern
LaGuardia Airport Terminal D

Web Site: http://www.otgmanagement.com

Since early summer, a lot of you may have been wondering “What the hell happened to Perlow’s posts?”

Well, the Jersey part of Off The Broiler has been run like clockwork by Melody Kettle, who has been updating you on all things delicious in the Garden State.

My wife and I moved to South Florida at the end of June, where I’ve gone into research mode in terms of the local restaurant scene. I’ve also been trying to keep my technology blogging on ZDNet up to regular levels, which has been a challenge in and of itself.

But many of you know I primarily work in technology consulting and I do a lot of travel. Since early August I’ve been commuting back and forth to Brooklyn on a weekly basis.

And that involves spending a lot of time in airports.

Specifically, New York City’s LaGuardia Airport, Terminal D. Which I depart from on Thursday nights to return home to the Fort Lauderdale area.

Terminals C & D are run by Delta, which is my carrier of choice.  I always start at D even if I have flights out of C, because there is a free shuttle bus between the two terminals and the only open SkyClub is currently at D.

So if I have a 2 or more hour wait before my flight, I grab something to eat and then hit the club for drinks.

There are a number of good places to eat in Terminal D, all of which are run by a company called On The Go Management, which owns high-end and creative restaurant concepts in a number of different airports.

One of the things that this company has pioneered is placing seating areas in the terminal gates which have specially-secured iPads where you can browse their menus and have food delivered directly to your seat.

I haven’t tried any of those offerings yet because I prefer a traditional sit-down dining experience away from the gates themselves, but if you’re in a hurry and want something better than pre-wrapped sandwiches from a kiosk, it looks like a good way to go.

The most prominent of the restaurants in Terminal D is A Taste of Prime Tavern, which opened in August of 2010, and  has a menu that was originally formulated by Michael Lomonaco, of Porter House New York in the Time Warner Center in Manhattan.

I’m saying that it’s the most prominent because it is directly behind the main security checkpoint, has the most seating of the other restaurants, the biggest bar area, and has a dramatic window view of the departing aircraft.

In terms of the prices, I think they are pretty reasonable given the overhead that this place has to deal with in being in an airport terminal. If you are expecting it to be a bargain, it isn’t, but I can guarantee you cannot go wrong with practically anything you order here, particularly if you want a place to have a civilized meal for an hour or more.

For the quality of the food you get, the value is definitely there.

The menu items change seasonally depending on what the restaurant can source and what is selling, but here’s a sample menu.

Bar Area/Main Dining Room.

Main dining room, window area

Airport food doesn’t have to suck. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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NJ Dining: Meatless Monday at Rutherford Pancake House

September 10, 2012

Happy #MeatlessMonday.  Here’s the weekly post from Hot From The Kettle’s Veggie Girl, Dianne Wenz:
For vegans, the most unfriendly meal of the day is usually breakfast. Even if the dish is meatless, it’s usually made with eggs, milk or cheese, which vegans eschew. While it’s pretty easy to make tofu scrambles and egg-free pancakes at home, eating out can be pretty tricky. But lucky for us, we have Rutherford Pancake House, which serves both vegan and omnivorous fare, so it’s a perfect place to take family or meet with friends who might still be slightly wary of vegan food.

Read more from the Rutherford Pancake House on Hot From The Kettle.


Broward County Dining: Bagels & Whole Lot More

August 1, 2012

Bagels & Whole Lot More
10281 West Sample Road, Coral Springs FL 33065
(954)575-8130

Web Site:  http://www.bagelsandawholelotmore.com

If you’ve been watching my Twitter feed, you probably know by now that Rachel and I have arrived in the Sunshine State.

It’s been a rough couple of weeks — not just because we decided to move to our new home during the brutal South Florida summer heat and humidity, but also because a number of logistical issues have prevented us from unpacking most of our belongings. We’ve been sleeping on a mattress on a floor in our family room and our bedrooms are currently being tiled. And all our new bedroom furniture is on order.

I have only one of my computers working, which is propped up precariously on a folding table in the living room. And my Mac with my photo editing suite isn’t unpacked yet, so I’ve been doing all my food photography with Instagram on my Android phone.

This and a pending swimming pool construction project is enough to drive you completely crazy. We’re roughing it, and we’re doing the best we can. At least I have my new Weber Genesis S-330 LP gas grill set up and running on the patio and we have cable TV and Internet.

And oh yeah, the air conditioning is working flawlessly.

Priorities, you know.

Speaking of priorities, I have already begun the task of seeking out the things that are essential to the survival of a native New York/New Jersey expatriate: Decent Asian food, Pizza… and Bagels.

Now, there’s no lack of bagels in South Florida. In fact, there’s probably a bagel store a five minute drive (or less) from everywhere in the town where we’ve settled, Coral Springs.

Coral Springs is a huge sprawling town of over 120,000 people. If I were to compare it to a town in New Jersey, I’d say it was demographically similar to Paramus, but it’s laid out in a grid form, with six times the population, with all of the commercial and residential zoning laid out in distinct squares, and none of the two mix.

It’s like someone who was a fan of the original SimCity computer game decided to apply its simplistic urban planning methodology to reality, and stuff it full of strip malls and gated communities and landscape it with palm trees and lush tropical plants.

I’m not complaining, I love my new environs. But clearly Toto, we’re not in Jersey anymore.

Anyway, back to the bagels. There’s lots of bagels to be found, but none of them are legit. The problem with South Florida bagels is that because of the huge elderly and retiree population, they’ve been adapted to local tastes. That means making them softer in consistency. To do that, virtually every bagel store steams rather than boils the bagels before baking them. This makes the resulting product more like a roll than a bagel.

Others have attributed the problem to the quality and mineral content of NYC water versus Florida water. I say horseshit. It’s all in the boiling and traditional preparation methods, especially once you put in a good water filter system. The difference in mineral content is going to slightly change the “terroir” of the bagel, but it will still end up a legit bagel.

After doing a bit of research, I have found a legit bagel bakery in Coral Springs. It’s called Bagels & Whole Lot More, and it’s only a few months old. The owner is from New York, has imported his bagel making equipment from Long Island and filters his water with a reverse osmosis system. And he’s doing everything the right way.

Bagels & Whole Lot More in Coral Springs, FL. 

Ready for real New York-style bagels in South Florida? Click on the “Read the rest of this entry link below” for more.

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NJ Dining: Chef Patrick Pierre-Jerome Returns to Montclair

April 30, 2012

Church Street has long been called  “the gem” of Montclair; blossoms, boutiques, benches, and great breakfast! But one thing seemed to be missing. Restaurant enthusiasts have often lamented – albeit secretly -the absence of a world class chef on this picturesque, pedestrian friendly street.  Gastronomes can now rejoice over the arrival of acclaimed chef, Patrick Pierre-Jerome.

I had the opportunity to sample a few of Chef Pierre’s new dishes.  Read all about the tasting on  Hot From The Kettle!


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