Archive for the ‘RESTAURANTS’ Category

Courtyard Cafe–A Restaurant Review   Leave a comment

 Courtyard Cafe collage March 30 2017

It has been four years since I wrote a review of this restaurant but basically it stays the same: pleasant surroundings (one unobtrusive TV behind the counter), good service by Douglas, good food not overpriced, with the feel of what it is, being a neighborhood restaurant. In the heart of Wilton Manors, the city island,the Courtyard Cafe has been a mainstay of the community for years.

I had the cheeseburger ($8.75) with potato salad, just one of the side dishes offered. It was cooked the way I asked, served on a fresh bun, and the potato salad was tasty. With it I had a cup of fresh coffee ($2.50) and no problem getting a refill.

Allen had a hamsteak, eggs, toast, potatoes for $6.80.

Our check, for two, with tax and tip came to $24.13

As always a pleasant afternoon lunch at the dependable Courtyard Cafe without hassles though the parking system has changed.

It has a wide ranging selection of foods on its menu with various special items. While it is starting to get too warm to eat outside their courtyard dining is always comfortable and fun.

(Being a creature of habit it is Thursday which is my cheeseburger day but, I promise, my next meal will be something else.)


For the complete menu, and a free meal on your birthday, go to: wwwWiltonManorsCourtyard…

2 Restaurant reviews: Giuliano’s & Joe’s Crab Shack in Fort Lauderdale   Leave a comment

Giuliano’s restaurant joins about 50 other restaurants in a square mile ranging a smorgasbord of many tastes including seafood, steaks, Thai, burgers, Chinese, Mexican, etc., while also ranging in prices from Denny’s to Mezzaluna Bistro to Burger Fi, I Love Mac & Cheese, Panero’s, Outback, Gilbert’s, Tropical Smoothies, Chef’s Palette,  etc., plus at least 4 other Italian restaurants.

In other words a restaurant has to stand out here for price, service and/or food. Giuliano’s is a small, well appointed place with just average food and prices. Allen had the lunch special for the day of Baked Ziti ($6.98) while I had the Chicken Parmigiana platter ($8.98) with a side of pasta. I had coffee ($2.50) while he had a diet Coke ($2.50) both served with garlic rolls.

The Ziti was okay just as the Chicken Parmigiana was though nothing special and, basically, what we would get in any other Italian restaurant.

We did have a coupon which included the lunch special for free when ordering a basic dinner platter so with tax and tip our check came to a total of $20.

The service was good but the server has to learn the little things that add to a meal like offering grated cheese and/or crushed red peppers with pasta plus a soup spoon with spaghetti.

There is nothing ‘bad’ with Giuliano’s but nothing at the same time making me want to come back.

Joe’s Crab Shack

 Joe's Crab Shack March 2017 Collage

Joe’s Crab Shack is like hundreds of other seafood houses from Maine to Florida to California with high prices, a unremarkable menu and mediocre food. Oh yes the typical wall and ceiling hangings

We both had the East Coast Platter ($19.29 each) consisting of a piece of fried fish, 3 almost burnt shrimp, a lump crab cake and too well done fried clam strips served with cole slaw and fries. Allen had diet Coke ($2.79) and I had coffee ($2.79) For both of us the check, plus tax and tip, came to $56.81 for lunch.

With many seafood restaurants in Fort Lauderdale like the 15th Street Fisheries, the Sea Watch, Catfish Dewey’s and the Boatyard, just to mention a few, Joe’s Crab Shack would be one of the last places I would come to again as I really don’t remember what any of the food tasted like.

Posted March 15, 2017 by greatmartin in DINING REVIEW, RESTAURANTS, Uncategorized


As far as I can figure it I have eaten out about 164 times last year which includes sit down full service restaurants on Thursdays while out food shopping and running errands, fast food restaurants usually on Fridays for a bite after the movies, new restaurants introduced to me by groupons  plus some classic restaurants like Big Louie’s, The Quarterdeck where we usually eat before going to the theatre and those I take people to who are visiting from out of town which are above average.

This year I remember finding 2 excellent restaurants that are what I call ‘special occasion’ places to eat because they are pricy but memorable. The first was the Bistro Mezzaluna which is white glove all the way and Bamboo Asia Bistro within a couple of blocks from the former.

The best all around restaurant from the prices to portion sizes to variety and good service was/is Cabo Blanco serving Peruvian and Cuban cuisine. I have been working my way through their 37 lunch specials and each is as good as the first which was/is a prize winner—that is all Allen ever orders when we go—which is called Tallarin Saltado Con Camarones consisting of 12 large shrimp sautéed with onions and tomatoes over linguini in what I believe is a light teriyaki sauce and is served with bread with two different spices and butter plus a cup of soup. The latter takes getting use to as it is chicken soup which is cooked, and served, with the bones attached to the small bites of chicken! This is one of their most expensive lunch specials at $8.99 and looking at the size and amount of shrimp I don’t know how they do it. I have eaten their 8 times since finding it and will be going there Thursday for my first restaurant meal of the year and I plan to go through all the specials!

One of the worst restaurants I went to and, surprisingly, was through a groupon, called the Rustic Pizza. It was one of the most uncomfortable, smallest, dirtiest restaurants I have ever been in.

Another restaurant I went to, Kelvin 3200, closed within a month and my review on Yelp’s reflected why it did. There are some restaurants that are good but for whatever reason I don’t go back and many are way too expensive for what they offer. Regarding the latetr I have had more sticker shock at restaurant prices last year than I ever had before.

The highlight of my eating out was my 20th Leap Year Birthday party at the Café Vico. I couldn’t have asked for a better meal, better service and the group of people celebrating with me were first rate, first class. Sadly a few I invited couldn’t make it but I am expecting them in 2020!!

I eat all kinds of foods in all kinds of restaurants and love discovering new places plus returning to old places that I know are reliable. Many restaurants come and go in the Fort Lauderdale area while others stay around for decades. There are certain restaurants I will go for seafood while others for steak or a good cheeseburger but, eventually, I will get to them all.

Here are some of the over 58 restaurants I have eaten in this year while on the video there are some of the dishes I have had—enjoy and come on down and have a meal with me!

Peter Pan diner, Thai Moon by the Sea, Tequila Sunrise, Arby’s, IHOP, Denny’s, Rok Burger, Fuego Latino, Jalisco, I heart Mac ‘N Cheese, The Deck, Lester’s diner, Cheddar’s, Sage, Red Cow, Coco Asian Bistro, Chef’s Palette, La Bamba, Burger 21, Spring Chicken, Subways, Il Mulino, The Cheesecake Factory, 15th Street Fishery, Smokey’s BBQ, Sea Watch, Boatyard, 2 Girls and a Grill and the list continues!

This week Cabo Blanco and next week the first new restaurant of 2017 The Tilted  Kilt.

A few of the places and plates–note the picture of Allen with the bib–I bought him a package of disposable bibs for adults! LOL



With opening day offering a ‘50% off your complete check special’ it was surprising that we only had a 10 minute wait plus everything, as far as I could see, went smoothly. I believe this is La Bamba’s 6th restaurant in the area and, probably, one of the most brightly decorated one in the area including the new ‘thing’ of the ceiling being a special part of the restaurant interior.

To start off our server Jason was excellent. (An aside: am I just old or do all servers look 15 years old today?!) The ladies at the front desk didn’t have an easy job but they handled it professionally and with a smile which is always a good introduction to a restaurant.

The portions are huge and the food tastes good which I suppose justifies the high prices for a Mexican restaurant though sticker shock isn’t new these days.

Anthony had the  Flautas ($13.50), asked for a side of guacamole ($4.50) and his iced tea without ice ($2.50) which always makes me laugh.. I had the Supreme Fajitas which consisted of chicken, shrimp and steak ($19) without too much shrimp but a good portion of steak and chicken along with a diet coke ($2.50) We both cleaned our plates at the same time saying we weren’t hungry!

The only disappointment were the chips–sort of tasted stale–as did the 2 mild and one spicy salsas served with them, neither having a homemade taste.

It was good to see a working manager going to and from tables and even helping a server here and there plus cleaning a table along the way.

Our check came to $44.52 with the 50% off making it $22.26 plus tax and tip.

For the past 20 years my favorite Mexican restaurant has been right around the corner on 17th street but with La Bamba open for lunch, and the former not anymore, I may be seeing Jason again–as when I find a good server I will always ask for them as they are one of the reasons I am coming back to a restaurant.


Spring Chicken Restaurant July 2016 Collage

Spring Chicken is so new that they still haven’t put the name of the restaurant over the front door–though it is on the other 3 sides. Walking in everything is clean,sparkling and though they try for that old down home feeling it is too modern!

The best thing, and I can’t rave enough about him, was our ‘host’ David. It has been a long time since I was greeted with such a big,handsome, lasting smile and by someone using my name from beginning to end (as soon as he asked for it to put on the receipt) including as I was walking out! I’d like to think it was because I was special but whether talking to a co-worker or a customer he acted the same.

Alright it was nice he was called a ‘host’ on the receipt (which reminds me hearing “Instead of a title give me a raise!”) but he was the order taker and he did a good job at that including good suggestive add-on selling.

I ordered the Country Club ($6.95) choosing the crispy chicken breast over the grilled, while Allen had the Natural Griller ($5.95). I ordered 1 regular house fries ($3.75) for us to split and while I had a diet coke ($2.25) and Allen had the shake of the month–orange–for ($6.95).

Allen didn’t have much to say about his sandwich while I find mine tasty except the potato bun was cut in such a way that the bottom part was cut way too thin making it a mess to hold and eat. The fries were pre-seasoned and tasted okay.

Spring Chicken falls in the category of the new, fast casual restaurant which means not having table service. You place and pay for your order when you enter, are given a vibrator ‘caller’ that will let you know when your food is ready then you pick it up. You also clean your table when you are finished by removing the plates and tray.

While there was nothing bad about the food there was nothing special either that warrants spending $13.73 for one lunch.

The big selling point aside from everything being new and sparkling clean was David the host. Restaurant owners and managers should use him as an example of who to hire to ‘sell’ their business!

By the way the ceiling decor was fascinating!!

PS I don’t know if he was a manager and/or owner but the only one not smiling and walking around with a dour look on his face was the one person not dressed in the Spring Chicken uniform! David, give him a lesson in making a customer feel special whether behind the counter or walking around the dining room.

Posted August 10, 2016 by greatmartin in RESTAURANTS, REVIEWS, Uncategorized


I love Mac n Cheese Collage

This is a hard review for me to write as 4 days later I still have residual puzzlement at what took place.

I was first attracted to the restaurant after reading an article in the New Times paper. The name itself was a big drawer as I love a play on words and snappy phrases. The second big selling item was all the raves about the cookie dough cones which many reviews on yelp talked about so add that to a new restaurant and Allen liking Mac & Cheese off we went.

It is easy to miss when entering the shopping center from the east as they only have their name facing west though many well known ‘fats causal’ restaurants are across the way from including BurgerFi which had a long line the whole time we were in I Heart Mac & Cheese which was basically empty..

It started off good with a hearty greeting as soon as we entered from Anika the order taker and cashier. At first it was a little confusing as menus weren’t available up front though it was on the wall above where you ordered and there were ‘take out’ menus available there.

It was partially my fault but I thought after ordering Basic Mac & Cheese ($3.95), since it didn’t say anything about what kind of cheese I thought you ordered the cheese you wanted on the macaroni which cost a dollar. I then ordered the Cookie Dough cone to be told they don’t have them anymore! What seemed as a major selling item on the menu was going to be replaced by what sounded like regular desserts. I wasn’t happy about that but okay. Then I ordered a fountain diet coke but seems the machine wasn’t working.

When we got to the table I looked at my receipt and saw that it was $4.95 which made me go up and ask Anika if it was a mistake and she was handling it very well until someone behind the counter–Owner? Manager? Cook? I really don’t know as he never introduced himself.

All of a sudden I was hearing that this was the first restaurant of its kind, that the planned to open 10 more soon, that he doesn’t go home and yell at his wife and kids (!) and that it was a new place and they were having  growing pains. Then, after hearing his rant, I was a little thrown and–OMG!! I made a mistake!–I mentioned about that a big selling item to me was their ice cream dough cone! Next thing I know I was angrily being told they don’t have ice cream!

Okay maybe the guy was having a bad day and instead of yelling at his wife and kids he thought it would be better yelling at me!

I was a professional waiter for 38 years and the first thing I was taught by Sam & Dorothy Piccolo’s (where I started in Miami Beach)) was ‘the customer is always right’ is not always the case but even when they are wrong you immediately respond with “I’m sorry” (and try to say it at least twice) and then “What can I do to make it better?”

The concept of I Heart Mac & Cheese is a draw but when you walk in and are told they won’t have this anymore and they don’t have that plus get aggravation from someone involved with the business you go eat your meal, leave and never come back or recommend the place.

There are close to 2,890 restaurants to choose from in the area and a business has to do more than just open their doors.

Posted July 20, 2016 by greatmartin in RESTAURANTS, REVIEWS, Uncategorized


temple street eatery Collage

Craig and I were hungry so I suggested this place I had often passed and wanted to try, mainly because they were related somehow—I forget how—to one of the best Chinese restaurants in Fort Lauderdale.

Started with a dour order taker who aside from not being able to bother a new customer with a smile was tongue tied when it came to suggestions.

We both ordered the Buddha Bowl with lemongrass chicken ($11) and a soda ($2.50) plus 1 appetizer of chicken dumplings ($4). The appetizer came after we were halfway through our main course and was absolutely tasteless. Regarding the main course, was it suppose to be hot? Cold? A salad? I really don’t know as it was more or less served at room temperature with a cold fish sauce.

The bill with tax came to $32.86 At that price for the food served and lack of interaction from the staff I see no reason to go back.

One more restaurant to forget. 

Posted June 26, 2016 by greatmartin in RESTAURANTS, REVIEWS, Uncategorized

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