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.
Sides include calamari misto ($4.98) and Italio sticks with cheese, pepperoni or spinach and artichoke ($1.98). Beer and wine are available.
Lunch and dinner daily are served amid a handsome decor with brick walls and wood elements punctuated by red and white colors.
A Coral Springs branch is expected to open at 4200 N. State Road 7 in the spring.
"The active, fast-paced lifestyle of South Floridians is a great match for our health-conscious and affordable fast-casual Italian dining," founder Alan Cohen says.
Giraffas Brazilian Steaks & Burgers
1955 N. Federal Hwy, #E115, Pompano Beach, 954-781-7500, Giraffas.com
A Pompano Beach location is expected to join this fast-casual Brazilian chain this month in a quest for a statewide expansion following success in Miami and Pembroke Pines. Giraffas is one of the largest chains in Brazil.
In addition, branches in Coral Springs at 4320 N. State Road 7 and in Fort Lauderdale at 6300 N. Andrews Ave. are slated to open in late December. Another Fort Lauderdale location at 424 N. Federal Highway is aiming for February.
"With four restaurants opening in three months, Giraffas is betting big on Broward County," U.S. marketing director Carlos Vanegas says. "We believe the county has a high concentration of the ideal profile of our core customer: young professionals with a great deal of appreciation for value and quality."
The menu encompasses American-type standards such as burgers, steaks, chicken, shrimp and pasta dishes with twists such as picanha and maminha cuts of meat, Brazilian-spiced sauces and stroganoff sauce. Dishes such as $2 sides of quinoa and farofa lend the traditional presence.
Prices range from $8 for a picanha burger with fries to $15 for salmon dishes. A selection of beers and speedy service are perks.
The contemporary design pulls together oranges and greens, counter seating, large semicircular booths and standard tables.