Blue Willy’s Barbecue

Blue Willy’s Barbecue – 1386 S Federal Hwy, Pompano Beach, (954) 224-6120, http://on.fb.me/1dmTZ61

I’ve been waiting for something like this for a long time. A local Florida BBQ joint that just does it right…with folks who know what they’re doing and enjoy it! The owner, Will Banks, not only tends to the smoker and meat prep, but also works the line while schmoozing with the customers. Originally from Tennessee, this guy is no stranger to BBQ biz and in years past could be seen flogging Que from his food truck parked near the Courthouse in downtown Fort Lauderdale. In July he opened his first brick & mortar store off Federal Hwy in Pompano Beach. Using social media and word of mouth they came…the foodies, former food truck customers, BBQ aficionados & the curious…all to sample some of the wonderful meats he prepares. Now this is not a fancy sit-down restaurant with table service. Some days there’s a line just to get in. But once you do you’ll be in BBQ heaven. The experience is reminiscent of Lockhart, Texas, where they’re famous for serving up your meat order on trays lined with butcher paper with some bread and plastic utensils. The focus here is on the food.

The place has got a kind of strange electricity about it. Grown men seated around communal wood tables eating their treasured trays of Que and discussing with others, in most cases perfect strangers, the great favors and techniques that must have been employed to achieve it! One gentleman quickly sat down near us with his Pastrami sandwich and immediately called his friend, “get down here now” he implored, “they’ve got it and its going fast!”  My group left that day…belly’s full, appetites sated and new friendships made.

So what should you have at Blue Willy’s?  Well first of all bring some friends so you can taste everything. I’d start off with a pound of Brisket…so juicy it will make your mouth water and your momma cry. Nice bark and smoke ring…this is the real deal, Texas style. Next have rack of St. Louis style spare ribs with that nice dark bark and wonderful smoky porky taste you want. Got room? The Carolina chopped pork is moist…good on a sandwich, but I order, by the pound and eat it with a squirt of sauce.  You must try the house made sausage. This is just great stuff. Half an order is good if you’re sampling. Thursday is Pastrami day and this you must try! This stuff is so popular that devoted fans, me included, wait on-line to get a couple of sandwiches and it’s all gone by 1 or 2pm. All hand cut and house made, Blue Willy’s is one of a handful of places in Florida that can produce a product like this and do it well.  The sides we tasted were good…we had the Mac n’ Cheese, Cornbread, & Baked Beans. There are several sauces on the tables that represent some of the regional favorites. If your like me you’ll taste a little of each.  Check out all my Blue Willy’s pix at http://on.fb.me/1j2sbFg

For me this trip was the best of all things…eating some of the best local BBQ, meeting an owner/operator who has built his business by working hard and a staff that shares the owner’s excitement about what they do.  Also… it didn’t bother me at all that I finally ate somewhere, really good, before Guy Fieri, Andrew Zimmern and Anthony Bourdain.  Just say’n!

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© 2013 alanEATS

S3 – Sun | Surf | Sand

S3 – Sun | Surf | Sand– 505 N Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd, Fort Lauderdale              (954) 523-7873 – http://www.s3restaurant.com

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It’s understandable why some say S3 is “YOLO on the beach.” Same ownership, similar design cues, attentive service and smart-looking crowd. But the added dimension of beach dining is alluring and very different from their Las Olas restaurant. The food is a mix of new American and Asian with many small plate options as well as some larger entrée items. We ordered several small plates… Tuna Tataki , so tender it melts in your mouth, Kamikaze Roll with nice hotness, tasty Vietnamese Chicken Wings and the “not what you were expecting” Shrimp Toast-Ciabatta. So many more items I’d like to try, but will have to wait for the next visit.

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© 2013 alanEATS | A Food Blog

Red Cow

Red Cow – 1025 N Federal Hwy, Fort Lauderdale,(954) 652-1524, http://redcowftl.com

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There’s a new Q in town where you’ll find all the expected BBQ meats and some new twists. I enjoyed the dry rubbed slow smoked Spare Ribs, which had a nice bark and tender meat. Unexpected was the Pan-seared Scallops with Pork Belly served over grits. Don’t forget the sides, like the fried Brussel Sprouts, Cauliflower Puree and Slaw. I’m slowly going through all twelve of them. For my next visit I’ve got my eye on the Shepherd’s Pie with Burnt Ends. Truth be told, it would be nice to go in just for their starters with names like, Chile Dusted Port Rinds, Fried Quail & Waffle and “Jerk Cuterie” Plate. Even with a full stomach, I was almost tempted to order the Chocolate Pecan Pie for dessert…maybe next time. Nice place, attentive service, casual and easy to like.

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© 2013 alanEATS | A Food Blog

the Foxy Brown

the Foxy Brown– 723 E Broward Blvd, Fort Lauderdale      http://www.thefoxybrown.com/

It’s the kind of place with foods you liked from your childhood, but with subtle twists here and there.  Foods you looked forward to when the grownups took you out to eat like Mac & Cheese, Milkshake or Hotdog.  You remember the polite dining instructions too—sit up straight, eat your food, no going under the table and being given the ‘look’ while hearing, ”be nice.”  Your youthful memories have just been merged with what you crave today and it’s all tucked into a new intimate eatery on E Broward Blvd.  The setting is comfortable and so is the food.  It’s the kind of place where you plan your next meal while you’re enjoying your current one! I’ve been here many times alone and with friends and I still do that. The owners here have a healthy respect for the food they serve and know how to please their customers. And this has filtered down to the staff as well. The main menu is served throughout the day except for Sunday when a brunch menu is available from opening till late afternoon. Wine and beer is available along with a really good Draft Root Beer.

Let’s begin at the beginning…here are some of my favorite starters: Roasted Artichokes with garlic butter, served with a dipping sauce; the French Onion Soup has that nicely melted cheese with crispy edges sealing in the hot fragrant soup; Clams, Brats and Beer served in a bowl with wedges of toasted bread so you can soak up the wonderful broth its cooked in; and the Little Shorties, which are lollipop chicken wings with red bean and ginger and a garlic dipping sauce…really tasty.  Several different salads are offered and although I have not sampled them yet, the portions look ample and seem to be popular.  Sandwiches I liked included: the Cocka-Doodle-Do, (which the wait staff can say without snickering)- a crispy and juicy chicken filet served with herb slaw; the Nemo a fish sandwich that’s not only tasty, but healthy; and my favorite, the Bratburger, which contains bratwurst meat formed into a paddy and grilled with house made sauerkraut and shallot jam. Mere hot dogs never tasted like this.  Must have some Sides with the above and the standouts for me are the Mac & Cheese, Heirloom Tomatoes and the tasty Slaw. And for those who didn’t like their Spinach as a child, the adult sauté version will finally change your mind.  Under the heading Standards is a collection of larger plates. The stand out, Mabel’s Chicken, is moist roasted thigh meat nestled atop pan gravy with house made spaetzle. If you desire healthy, try the fresh fish En Papillote (in parchment), a cooking technique that steams the fish in its own juices combined with other ingredients. The Three Lil’ Cochons are medallions of breaded pork loin filled with shrimp stuffing and finished with a rich Tasso cream sauce. The sliced Iron Cast Hanger Steak will fulfill your desire for meat. It’s soft with good flavor from the dry rub. The steak is plated with Maître d’Hôtel Butter between the slices for added flavor, but it won’t harm the dish should you decide to leave it off. Finally, try the dessert of the day. They are decadent and delicious and need your attention.  Did I mention they make milkshakes too?

Sunday is a Brunch day tradition in this town and the Foxy Brown recently began serving their version. So you should expect things like Donut Holes served with cereal milk, a S’more Waffle and White Chocolate Chip French Toast.  Then there’s the pancake, four different Eggs Benedict and the Kipper too! My table opted for some egg dishes. I totally enjoyed the Bangers and Eggs. The Bangers, I’m told, are sourced from a purveyor in Miami and they were packed with flavor. I also sampled the Hanger Steak Hash with two eggs topped with chimichurri hollandaise. And had a taste of the Barn Yard Frittata, which was filled with Nueske Bacon, sausage, Canadian bacon and cheddar cheese. There are so many intriguing options on this menu you’ll need to make repeat visits.

The Foxy Brown is a wonderful place to connect with new & old versions of foods you loved and experience new ones. So go as a tribute to your younger days, and while you’re at it, why not take along the grownups? Let them have a good time. And remember, “be nice.”

Follow the link to see all the pictures from the Foxy Brown.  https://www.facebook.com/alanEATS/photos

© 2012 alanEATS

Tap 42

Tap 42- 1411 S Andrews Ave, Fort Lauderdale                                      http://www.tap42.com/

Burgers, Fish, Salads, Bar Snacks and more…wash down with 42 Tap Beers, 103 Bottle beers and 50 Bourbons.”

I wasn’t due to write this story until I had been back a few more times, however, I felt compelled to give you my impressions of Tap 42 after reading an unfavorable review that appeared in a periodical which I highly regard for their food reviews.  It’s so very easy to be negative about a place, which is why I don’t do that in this Blog.  You’ll find out about a bad meal from people you know faster than reading a review. I don’t know the Tap 42 owners, but their advertised concept is to operate a Gastropub that serves a wide selection of craft beers to accompany a limited menu of “natural, organic, sustainable and locally sourced” dishes. On the several occasions I’ve been there, I must tell you that they have succeeded. In the evenings the place is over-run with people who are happy to sit anywhere for an opportunity to chow down some pub grub and socialize with friends. Not every restaurant has to be fine dining, but you do expect that what’s served will be appealing and consistent.  I’d say they hit the mark here. So my advice is gather up some of your friends and park yourself at one of the indoor or patio tables.  You’ll want to begin by taking advantage of the impressive list of Tap & bottled Craft Beers. Not being a beer maven myself, I usually tell my server the beers I like and let them choose one for me. If beer is not your thing they also have a collection of 50 different Bourbons and other booze.  Now for some food.  In my group we pass around everything…even the soup. The not-to-be-missed, Cognac French Onion soup has the expected cheese, onion and sourdough crouton, but finishes with a surprising sweetness from Cognac and Vidalia Onions. Also good was the hearty Beef Barley soup. The Chicken Wings are a hit with four different sauces…I had the HOT sauce.  Next time in I need to try the Sopressata Breadsticks made with crème cheese, spinach, arugula, pretzel breadstick and cherry mustard. This just sounds so wrong, but I’m drawn to it like a moth to a flame. For lunch you’ll find salads, sandwiches a burger and a few hotdog creations. Nothing is plain and all are unique. I recently had the Chicago Dogg (sic), a Kobe Hot Dog with house made slaw, red and yellow peppers and a Hot Pepper. Went down great with my Golden Monkey Beer. By the way, the burgers here juicy and the combinations are sinister…like the Three little Piggy…that’s made with a patty blend of pork & beef topped with slices of roasted pork, ham, pickled jalapeno, and provolone served on a brioche bun. Fish people can enjoy farm raised Arctic Char, which is flaky, light and can be ordered as a platter or sandwich.  And yes dearheart, there is MahiMahi on the menu.

I’m prone to like new restaurants that have taken the time to figure out who they want to be and carve out their niche. I’m pleased to report that the Miami Herald recently gave the Tap 42 a rating of three stars, Very Good. Any new place is bound to have some bumps and falls along the way, but at the end of the day it’s the customer who will decide not reviewers. I for one will be back to try some of the interesting food combos with a glass of  Sierra Nevada Pale Ale…if I can find a seat!

See more pix from Tap 42 at:  http://on.fb.me/wf3twM

© 2012 alanEATS

OB-House / Old Fort Lauderdale Breakfast House

OB-House/Old Fort Lauderdale Breakfast House- 333 Himmarshee St, Ft Lauderdale-  http://o-bhouse.com/

Occasionally my family is conscripted to be the staff of alanEATS. Therefore, whenever I need to know about new hip places I look to my savvy nephew. Recently he’s been going on about OB-House, a new breakfast place in Himmarshee. Initially, I admit, I was skeptical, but it became clear to me the place had a devoted following so when the name kept turning up I figured it was time to see for myself. OB is a restaurant that specializes mainly in breakfast. I’ve visited there about four or five times so I guess I’m as ready as ever to give you my take. First of all it appears that a lot of time was spent thinking about how to raise-the-bar on the first meal of the day. To accomplish this they use the best quality & freshest ingredients, new interpretations, and some say, a little self-indulgence.  Look…you’re just going to have to dig a little deeper into your pocket for this mornings “feed bag,” but it’s worth it!  So clip on your iPhone and tell the secretary you’ll be a little late to the office. One quick word of advice… according to the menu, peanut oil may be used in the preparation of some items. Ask your server to point them out if you have that allergy.

I usually start with a glass of the pulpy fresh squeezed Orange Juice and a cup of OB Coffee about which the menu states, “ That’s not Folgers in your cup.” I don’t know whose coffee they’re using, but it’s served hot and it’s good. First time in I tried the Standard OB-House Breakfast with two Free-Range Eggs, Thick Sliced Bacon and Yukon Gold Potatoes served with thick cut 6-Grain Toast.  The over easy eggs were perfect and basted, a method of cooking eggs without turning them over. My eyes next went to that thick cut bread. I confess I finished it all. On another visit I decided to take the advice of my nephew and order the popular OB Oven Pancake. This nicely sized pancake is baked in a cast iron skillet and served with a choice of filling; Pineapple Pecan, Banana, Blueberry or Strawberry. The pancake is moist and the light inside reminds me of a soufflé. It’s tasty enough to enjoy even without the portion of real Vermont Maple Syrup that accompanies it. This is so good it deserves to be on everybody’s bucket list. On subsequent visits I’ve enjoyed the OB Batter Toast made with slices of the same thick cut OB-Bread and side dishes of Maple Chicken Link Sausages and the Country Pork Sausage. Meals here are quite good and filling…so in an attempt to be a little less decadent, and keep my waist size stable, I resigned to try the healthy and House-made Granola Parfait with Yogurt and Strawberries. I will admit healthy tastes good too! Also on the healthy side were the two Specials of Poached Eggs on a bed of Spinach with potatoes & bread and Scrambled Eggs served with a cup of Fresh Fruit & Yogurt and a Muffin. No…I did not eat the muffin! I passed it along to my nephew as a reward for finding the place.

Additional pictures can be found at  http://on.fb.me/vlXtJS

© 2011 alanEATSomelets

Ferdos Grill

Ferdos Grill- 4300 N Federal Highway, 
Fort Lauderdale                        http://www.ferdosgrill.net/

I’m often asked how I get food recommendations. One way I discovered is by checking out where my foursquare friends are eating so I can interrogate them about their meals.  I warn you though; you must be careful with this technique or may get a disagreeable comment or two! Fortunately this was not the case with a good friend who I noticed was eating at Ferdos on a regular basis. I’m sure many of you can remember seeing the yellow & red Ferdos sign with the tag line “home of the kabob” underneath, on rides up Federal Highway and thinking “one day I’ll get there.” After questioning my friend, who as it turns out is of Lebanese descent, he kindly offered to take me there and help with my selections. So how authentic is it? Pretty much, however, don’t expect a whole goat served on a bed of rice, which you might have seen done on the Travel Channel. What you will find is many authentic Lebanese and Middle Eastern dishes. We started with a new one for me, Raw Kibbeh, which is primarily made with raw ground Lamb mixed with burghul and spices. Ferdos serves this with pita wedges, cucumber slices and onions. The flavors are subtler than I would have expected and the meat does not have any hint of gaminess. It did remind me of a pâté in texture. My host suggested I place a small amount in a pita wedge with onion and/or cucumber. The resulting mixture was delicious. The Sfeehas, Meat Pies, came next.  They seemed more familiar to me as almost every culture in the world seems to make a version of these small baked pastries filled with meat, vegetables or cheese. Ours were meat filled and served with a Tzatziki dipping sauce. Next was the very healthy and tasty Fatoosh Salad consisting of small pieces of tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, radishes, pita chips, and tossed with a tangy dressing. I ordered the signature dish…Shish Kabob. What arrived was a large plate filled with perfectly cooked chunks of charbroiled beef served with fluffy rice, steamed veggies, onions and a strong garlic dipping sauce. After what I had eaten earlier, it seemed a veritable mountain of food…most of which I took home…had for lunch the next day…and there’s still some left!  So what did I learn from this food adventure? Good friends are priceless and offer unexpected knowledge… and foursquare can be an effective tool to find a good meal! Thank you Matt.

© 2011 alanEATS