Background: East City Grill in Weston, a fixture of the Broward dining scene, traces its roots back to Darrel and Oliver's East City Grill, a popular Fort Lauderdale beach spot that opened in 1995. In 2002, East City Grill re-opened in its present location in Weston, where it is now into its 10th year.
Ambience: When we first arrived and saw no diners, I felt a sense of dread. However, when I looked further, I noticed everyone was taking advantage of a perfect South Florida November night to dine on the gorgeous patio. The crowd was relaxed and relatively casual, enjoying the view of the water fountain in the now-quiet Weston Town Center.
Overall impression: East City Grill has strong upscale offerings and a great location, making it a go-to choice for a quiet evening for diners with discerning taste. Some of the dishes sing, while some merely hum, so you'll want to order meticulously given the high prices. If you want to spend lightly, hot sandwiches cost from $10 to $16.
Starters: The appetizer menu is a seafood-heavy delight. Start with our favorite, the volcano shrimp ($11), a plate of plump, heavily battered shrimp soaked in a salty sweet sauce that has just the right amount of spice. The strong flavors will overpower your other appetizers, but that shouldn't dissuade you; just eat it last. Crab cakes ($15) are nicely done with a crunchy exterior and a nice caper aioli that accents it well. A French onion soup ($10) is especially thick and easy on the salt, though it didn't challenge our soup leaderboard. Lobster bisque ($10) is a mild-tasting version with bits of lobster. It is drenched in truffle oil, giving it a peculiar flavor that may not be for everyone. The ahi tuna tower ($17) with ponzu, wakame and ginger is fresh and ornate, with a bit of heat that you don't notice until you've put the fork down. Wonton crisps add some fun to make it another go-to appetizer.
Entree excellence: A New York strip ($48) is expertly done, prepared simply with an appealing butteriness and grilled to our specifications with the right amount of char. The sea bass ($38), however, was a major disappointment (despite the quality of the fish), tasting devoid of seasoning while the Panko bread crumbs overpowered everything.
If you like strongly flavored meat dishes, you'll go nuts for East City's stuffed veal chop, ($48) a prosciutto-packed blast of flavors that makes you explore its various elements. The rich Marsala sauce is cut by generous amounts of olive oil that soften the sauce and tantalize the palate. Yet another dynamite dish — and not a less-pricey one — is the short ribs ($28), enormous hunks of meat tender throughout despite their thickness and topped with a fork-licking semisweet reduction. Whatever entree you order, be sure to try the restaurant's most-interesting appetizer: tasty wedges of portabello mushrooms battered and fried.
Sweet! Dessert comes in strong, starting with a an eye-catching creme brulee served in a flowery almond basket ($10). The brulee, served thick, is lopped on top of a bed of berries. The creme itself is thick enough that you can enjoy it while mostly sidestepping the berries — unless you don't want to. Chocolate souffle ($10) has a mouth-shaking boldness with its powerful dark chocolate. Tiramisu ($12) has a pleasant, airy quality, though it is heavily spiked with liquor.
Service: The servers here are like changelings, adapting their style to you. They made appearances at the right times, topping off drinks quickly and making generally strong recommendations.
East City Grill
1800 Bell Tower Lane, Weston
Cuisine: Steakhouse, seafood
Cost: Very expensive
Hours: 11:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 11:30 am- 11:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 4 p.m.-10 p.m. Sunday
Bar: Full service
Sound level: Quiet-moderate
Outside smoking: Yes
For kids: Highchairs, kids' menu
Wheelchair accessible: Yes