French restaurateur Herve Maestripieri and his Michelin-rated, classically trained chefs have arrived directly from the French Riviera to bring the essence of Saint-Tropez to the edge of Royal Palm Place in the former space of The Spaniard Tapas Bar & Café.
"Most French restaurants here are French-American. We want to keep it authentic," he says. "It's fusion food because we're using local ingredients."
His chefs add a contemporary spin to classic dishes, such as adding foie gras to the winter black truffle soup ($19) and crafting a six-hour herb reduction and spicy honey glaze for the caramelized rack of lamb ($34) instead of breading or crusting it. Other standouts are the foie gras terrine duo, one of them marinated with cognac and flambéed ($25) and the king crab and snow crab duo ($28).
Pastry chef Gineau Stephane astounds with jaw-dropping masterpieces that taste as good as they look, such as the Textured Chocolate, a log of chocolate mousse enrobed in hardened dark chocolate balanced over two cubes of chocolate layered cake and vanilla ice cream ($14).
A wood wine-rack display inside the entrance leads to a violet lit LED bar, light-wood flooring, gray walls, open kitchen and wood-beam ceiling. The chic ambience is accented by two stunning custom chandeliers resembling vines studded with mini crystals.
Dinner is served nightly, except Sundays, and Sunday buffet brunch for $45 will begin after Thanksgiving. DJs and live music are in the works for Friday and Saturday nights.
Himmarshee Public House
201 SW Second St., Fort Lauderdale, 954-616-5275, PublicHouseFtl.com
Rok:Brgr has a new sibling across this nightlife street: a tavern on the corner next to the railroad tracks, where Porterhouse Bar & Grill once operated.
"It's a sporting lounge with an upscale approach to American taverns with VIP bottle service and where you can watch the game on your own private TV with a group," co-owner Marc Falsetto says. "The atmosphere is a different animal with DJs from Miami and dancing until 4 a.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. In your typical sports bar, you're not going to get local produce like heirloom tomatoes, prime steak and maple bourbon-glazed pork chops. Everything is made from scratch."
The elevated pub fare encompasses small plates, such as spicy lamb ribs glazed with root-beer sauce ($12) and lobster nachos with habanero-mango salsa ($14), salads, sandwiches, flatbreads, such as house-cured bacon brussels sprout ($12), street tacos, and a handful of dinner-only entrees, such as the signature Southern-style fried chicken ($19)
About 40 craft beers are on tap, and house-made infusions enhance specialty cocktails, such as the 2nd St. Sweet & Heat with grilled pineapple and jalapeno-infused tequila ($12) and four punch bowls for four to six people to share ($50).
Bare-bulb signs glow among high-top tables that wrap around a predominant rectangular bar with lit light-brick columns. A rear lounge beckons with brown tufted couches and a 10-foot LED screen.
Lunch and dinner are served daily, plus Sunday brunch and a late-night menu. A schedule of DJs and live music is in the works.
2151 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale, 954-703-1999, ItalioKitchen.com
Similar to the easy streamlined ordering of Chipotle Mexican Grill, you choose one of the seven proteins ($6.78 to $8.98), such as chicken, meatball or sausage, in the form of a pasta bowl, salad bowl or an Italian wrap called a piadina. Then you can garnish it with nearly 20 toppings, such as chickpeas or roasted garlic, as you walk down the stainless-steel assembly line.