147 SE First Ave., Boca Raton, 561-417-5100, TrueBocaraton.com
Baltimore native Frank Hawkins has brought a casual touch of his childhood to the former Apropo Kafe near Royal Palm Place.
"We are trying to carve out a specific niche with our Baltimore-inspired menu, craft beer and our love of the undiscovered gems of wine," says Hawkins, who co-owned The Butcher's Daughter, a sandwich shop in Boynton Beach. "Many restaurants feature the same old beers and wines, relying on salespeople rather than researching and tasting. We know our food and beverage items inside and out."
For now, the menu is concise with daily specials such as crab imperial ($26-$28 market price) and Szechuan carrot soup ($6). "We are trying to keep things simple while offering a limited number of exceptional items," Hawkins says. "Our regular menu may expand when business dictates."
Signatures include Maryland-style lump crab cakes (market price), slow-roasted beef brisket on a kaiser roll ($15) and farmhouse roasted chicken with caramelized shallots ($17).
A wine bar and chalkboard wall of specials accent the cozy, light interior. String lights, tiki torches and a fountain surround umbrella tables in the front courtyard.
Lunch and dinner are served Tuesday through Friday, plus dinner Saturday. Live music is in the works, such as acoustic and light jazz.
Fifth Avenue Grill
821 SE Fifth Ave., Delray Beach, 561-265-0122, FifthAvenueGrill.net
Tom Blum sold Old Calypso a few months ago to an investor who's been courting a parade of restaurants for the prime spot on the Intracoastal Waterway in Delray Beach. But not to worry, you can still satiate your craving for Old Calypso's Caribbean and Creole flair at Blum's Fifth Avenue Grill.
The 24-year-old classic seafood and steak house with its dark, old-world, wooden interior has incorporated some of Old Calypso's dishes in response to customers' requests, general manager Nick Awad says.
"Over the 14 years I've worked here, I've known a lot of the customers who went back and forth between the two restaurants," he added.
The Sunday brunch from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. now offers selections such as Duval Street lobster Benedict with key lime hollandaise ($16.95). Bananas Foster French toast, made with New Orleans French bread, rum butter syrup and pecans, is served with applewood smoked bacon ($11.95).
A dozen dinner specials — nearly all from Old Calypso — supplement the regular menu, such as oysters Rockefeller ($13.95), soft-shell crab Provençale ($29.95) and seafood paella ($33.95).
Dapur, Asian Tapas & Lounge
1620 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale, 954-306-2663, DapurKitchen.com
This hip, alluring pan-Asian gem has unveiled 15 new specialties, including vegan and gluten-free options, crafted from produce from the garden out back.
The new Sexitini with lemongrass- and cucumber-infused gin ($11) pairs well with some of the standouts, such as Hamachi jalapeno with yuzu sauce ($16), Sun Kiss seared salmon with ginger, Cajun spices and yuzu ($14) and the rightly named Masterpiece — sautéed spinach and shitakes crowned with miso-glazed tuna that's torched to elicit smokiness ($14).
"Most of the items I had the idea for a long time and was waiting to introduce them," says Indonesian owner Edi Mulyanto, whose party bookings grew by 40 percent the past year. "Edamame has always been boring. Back home, it's not like that because we use spices."