Shelia's Conch & Wings
3026 E. Commercial Blvd., Fort Lauderdale, 954-245-6154
Dania and Sam Johnson have brought their Bahamian conch specialties from their prior Sheila's Famous Conch & Barbecue in West Palm Beach and Lake Worth to the former Tara Thai & Japanese Cuisine.
"It's close to the beach, and our particular type of food fits in with the area," Sam says. "We're doing a variety of wings now instead of barbecue. The place is set up to have the true island vibe, but it's Americanized."
Lunch and dinner are served daily amid yellow and blue walls with nautical accents and TVs. Live island music and steel drums are in the works. Sheila's is named after Sam's mother, but . . .
"Our customers called my wife Sheila, so she just took it and ran with it," he says. "She's not known by Dania; she's known by Sheila."
Dania's Bahamian upbringing in The Bahamas is the backbone of the menu. "They are the original Bahamian recipes that my mom and I made to together, and I've put my twist on them," she says.
Favorites are the conch and shrimp combo ($10.99, lunch; $14.99, dinner), conch salad ($8.99-$25.99), whole yellowtail snapper ($17.99) and seven flavors of wings, such as lemon pepper or Cajun (five at lunch, $7.99; 10 at dinner, $9.99).
"The menu is set up to fry everything, but any of the seafood can be sautéed or baked upon request," says Sam, who grew up in Fort Myers.
After returning to his native Florida, Ron Weisheit has opened a contemporary American restaurant with his wife, Rhonda, in the short-lived Artizan Flatbread Company near Yakitori Sake House in Royal Palm Place.
They bring three decades of pastry expertise from New England, where they owned a bakery in Massachusetts for eight years before searching two years down here for what Rhonda calls their "hidden gem location."
The name refers to the number of seats: 20 inside and 20 outside in the courtyard with a sizable awning for nightly dinner. The purple-accented interior with taupe banquettes showcases sought-after Miami artist Ruben Ubiera's illustrations of the Weisheits' dove-themed love story. A mural crafted with butcher blocks centers around a vintage wood refrigerator door from the Maine restaurant where the two met. White-paper drawings depicting their life are clipped to a funky chandelier.
"We wanted to keep it small and quaint," she says. "Ron's style of food should not be mass produced; it is an art. We want our diners to feel special. I love to intermingle and have them experience our perfect vision."
Part of that vision is a monthly menu with dishes such as duo of duck "taco" ($14), bacon-crusted oyster "BLT" with pulled pork ($12), chicken and duck confit tagliatelle with goat cheese ($23) and brined New Zealand lamb rack ($30). Unusual butters, such as orange-beet, enliven the bread. Profiteroles are filled with house-made vanilla ice cream ($9).
Insider's tip: Request a chef's tasting.
JB's on the Beach
300 NE 21st Ave., Deerfield Beach, 954-571-5220, JBsOnTheBeach.com
Its view of the beach and pier is sensational enough, but now this 11-year-old retreat is shining with a rejuvenated look.
"We felt it was time to put an updated fresh feel to the interior with accents from the islands," operating partner Scott Moen says. "The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive."
The exterior was transformed to white and light green, and the multi-tiered interior with a soaring ceiling is now Caribbean blue and white, along with stunning iridescent oyster shell-colored mosaic tile. Metal fish artwork was added, including a marlin jumping out of a huge 3D mural. Rattan chairs and re-upholstered light-blue booths carry out the theme, and a retail nook sells souvenirs.
A new smoker in the kitchen enhances bacon accents and tomatoes for sauces. An additional menu section showcases its results: half rack baby back ribs for lunch ($17) or full rack for dinner ($26), half rack ribs with grilled shrimp, Dungeness crab legs or barbecue chicken breast ($26, dinner), half-roasted chicken ($16, lunch; $19, dinner) and cherry wood-smoked salmon ($25, dinner).
Other new selections include BBQ shrimp flatbread ($13, lunch and dinner), crab-stuffed lobster (market price, dinner) and Argentine-style fisherman's stew ($25, dinner).
Up next: A revamped weekend brunch menu.
This 4-year-old modern American gastropub with red cowhide chairs and lively indoor/outdoor bar has introduced its latest changes by new executive chef Bryan Ramos.
"I cook with a lot of fruits and contrasting flavors, like the yin-yang of food," he says.
The fruit appears in his frisee salad with apple, blueberries, feta, house-made granola and pear vinaigrette ($12), mango BBQ chicken sliders with jicama slaw on pretzel buns ($14), grilled double-cut pork chop crowned with candied walnut crumble and apple chutney ($26) and Key lime white-chocolate raspberry-swirl cheesecake ($8). He strived to add bold and/or rich specialties based on customers' input, such as pork belly rendered down in his mustard broth of Prince Edward Island mussels ($20) and rib-eye French dip with beer mustard and gruyere ($19). Don't miss his crispy tacos with shrimp, avocado butter, yuzu and aji peppers ($16).
Besides the cheesecake, he's crafting a weekly sorbet or gelato, such as sea-salt caramel truffle ($6).
The well-balanced Champagne mojito with rum, St. Germain liqueur, lime and mint ($15) stands out among the six new cocktails.