Archive for the ‘RESTAURANTS’ Category

Restaurants   1 comment

It is no secret that I LOVE food plus eating out and if I could I would eat out 3 meals a day 365 (366 Leap Year) days a year.  I am not a snob when I eat out and can just as easily eat at a fast food place as I can eat at a 5 star restaurant. I have favorite restaurants in each category but COVID-16 knocked out quite a few though new ones are coming along every day.

An irony involved with me and restaurants is that I don’t have a good record of restaurants staying opened after I have celebrated my Leap Year there!!  In 2020 when I turned 21 I invited my guests for dinner at the Nabu American Fusion buffet and though no one got sick because of the virus it still was one of the first to close for good! Sweet Tomatoes, The ZanZbar on Los Olas, the Marrott Marina hotel restaurant and The Ark all shut their doors while only Cafe Vico has improved by opening another restaurant! I am now starting my hunt for my Leap Year party restaurant on February 29, 2024, so I am making sure not to mention any of those places when I inquire about booking my party at a new place.

I, accidentally, found a gem of a restaurant that for 2 decades I have passed by without taking notice of until they got an eye-catching marque and since then I have been eating at the Fredo’s Lebanese restaurant known for their kebobs, slowly working down the lunch menu with the 15 specials. Also, the Jalisco Mexican restaurant, right across from Winn-Dixie where I have been shopping the last 21 years caught my eye and I have found a few new dishes there so added it to the Tequila Sunrise and Tipico restaurants when I want south of the border food.

There are a few restaurants I go to for specific items such as the Quarterdeck is my go to for Jambalaya and the IHOP for a cheese omelet with a short stack, the Outback for cheeseburgers not to forget Subways for a turkey hero and, yes, The Cheesecake Factory for cheesecake.

I’m jumping ahead of myself as I am going to talk about restaurants for particular items in another post! Not to forget restaurants I make sure out of town guests go to for pizza or seafood or pasta—now if I only can find a restaurant that serves prime rib on the bone since the one I loved has gone out of business, the second one to do that, where I didn’t have to get a bank loan for dinner.

That is something else I have noticed as a result of the epidemic–restaurant prices have gone sky high! Whereas before a lunch in a full service with linen tablecloths cost about $10-12 now it is about $20 plus tax and tip!!

Crafty Crab Restaurant Review   1 comment

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Chris, our server, was excellent as was the food and upon our entering the host greeted and sat us immediately. All in all, except for 2 negatives which I will get to later, a good experience.Allen had the 6 scallops in garlic butter , which looked and tasted fine  and he also had the chicken strips with fries, again giving a positive response while I had the fried shrimp with onion rings and wasn’t a bit disappointed with the size of the shrimp, the breading and taste. Allen had a soda while I stuck to water. The check with tax and tip came to $50 which is a bit high for lunch but more and more about par for the course in full service restaurants

.Now to the negatives which may or may not have been noticed by other customers but having been a server for 38 years I pick up on these things.There was a table across from us that was dirty when we walked in and was still dirty when we left.  The floor was strewn with garbage and the table a mess and the baby chair gave me a hint a kid had been there!!

As far as I could tell the servers were responsible for cleaning and resetting their own tables as I had observed Chris doing just that  with his tables and he verified it when I asked. The other server was still being seated though they didn’t clean their tables never once taking a dish or glass or anything each time they walked back to the kitchen going empty handed in spite of carrying a bar serving tray. I didn’t see anyone who might have been a manager so that might be the problem.

Another problem is just a guess on my part. There had been another restaurant there which had been very good–great Prime Rib specials–but the entrance-way to the rear where the parking is can be very quickly passed by unless you know where you are going and don’t go on a rainy day as there is no way to let someone off at the front door and you will get wet walking/running/going to restaurant entrance!

Don’t know how to solve that problem but the original architect wasn’t really thinking right with the design.

Posted October 1, 2021 by greatmartin in RESTAURANT REVIEWS, RESTAURANTS

The Eye, restaurants, peppers, weather August 7 2021   1 comment

Though not completely clear the eye is almost clear of red so that, with the conclusion I don’t need a pacemaker, health news is good!

I don’t know how old that pepper plant is now—at least a few years–and still sprouting peppers, red, yellow and green!

Thursday Allen I went to Tipico Cafe for lunch after shopping and, as always, it was good. Allen had the combo stirfry while I had the Ropa Veja.

The next day, after seeing “Swan Song” it was Subways and though Allen had his usual meatball and and I had my usual turkey I made a mistake by ordering both on one of their new wrap breads which we both didn’t particularly care for as it wasn’t toasted nor did the wrap bread taste good–next week back to the garlic cheese bread!

So far yesterday and today has been rain free and full of sun and now at 6 PM the sky is clear so we may not get those evening showers!

Life is good!

Posted August 7, 2021 by greatmartin in FORT LAUDERDALE, RESTAURANTS, WEATHER

Getting back to ‘normal’!   1 comment

Little by little ‘normal’ is coming back in my life though at the same time it can be shocking as in this case eating out in restaurants. Prices have almost doubled in most places and even lunch is now getting into the $25-$30 per person.

After not accomplishing anything at the hospital and Rion having to sit around for 5 hours I took him for lunch and we went to the new Tacocraft without knowing it was Taco Tuesday (all tacos $3) or that Margaritas were $5. We both had 2 tacos (I had the shrimp–and it lived up to its name!) and he had a Margarita. The check was around $20 plus a tip based on what it would have cost. I was very disappointed for a couple of reasons, such as not being given napkins, but the main reason was that the tacos were so small I hope they don’t have these servings when at regular price. Were they good? I am serious when I say that they weren’t big enough to get any taste! Oh, did I mention they serve water at room temperature?

For a late lunch one afternoon Allen and I went to JMarks where they have a special lunch menu but we were too late for that and ordered off the regular menu. He usually has the 10 ounce NY Strip steak which costs $19 at lunch and $24 at dinner. I have been looking for a good ‘old-fashioned’ Shrimp Scampi and so far haven’t had any luck though this was close. So far in the restaurants I have tried it they have either breaded the Shrimp or cooked it in a heavy sauce if they even sauteed it! Though this one wasn’t cooked in JUST garlic and oil (had a light lemon cream sauce) it did taste okay. The price was $26 so with tax and tip it was a fairly expensive lunch.

Last, but not least, we went to Big Louie’s after the Friday movie to have pizza and, as always, didn’t disappoint. We had the medium—yes, medium, not large!–12 inches with 5 toppings for $15.99 plus tip and tax and a soda we got away for less than $20 each and with 4 slices of pizza each more than satisfied—though I can remember back in the ‘old days’ I could eat a large one all by myself and have dessert after. LOLOh, yes, the first picture is of Jordan, Becky’s great-grandchild, and one of the very few times he wasn’t smiling. Next time I will catch his priceless smile which makes everyone who looks at him smile back!By the way, the other baby is me—smiling and not!

Posted June 17, 2021 by greatmartin in RESTAURANTS

15 months later finall 2 NORMAL Days!!   1 comment

As a creature of habit, for 20 years of Thursdays, I would go to The Dollar Tree, CVS, Winn-Dixie,  and, sometimes if I needed things, also Office Depot and Home Depot topping it all off with a late lunch at Big Louie’s, Quarterdeck or Cafe Vico!On Fridays, it was an early movie, usually at The Gateway Theatre, and then Subways or Arbys for a ‘snack’.

Also about 16 times a year we went to either the Adrienne Arsht Theatre in Miami or the Broward Performing Arts Center on Tuesdays to see touring Broadway shows which abruptly stopped in March 2020 as did dinners at many different places before the shows!

Then the epidemic came!!!  ARGH!! No movie theatres, no touring Broadway shows for 15 months and no restaurants, old or new for about 13 months.

About 2 months ago, and a vaccine, we started to tiptoe back into restaurants for lunch, generally going to those we were familiar with, knew would be following the rules, such as the new 17th Street Quarterdeck, IHOP, Arbey’s, Big Louie’s and after our second vaccine started to try new ones like the Brazilian steakhouse Rio Minas.

Then the good news came–The AMC and Regal chains were reopening but the best news of all was The Gateway Theatre, under new owners, was opening up!NORMAL came back this week!! Did the old routine of shopping on Thursday and WENT FOR LUNCH at Big Louie’s and yesterday, Friday, WENT TO THE REOPENED GATEWAY THEATRE TO SEE A MOVIE ON THE BIG SCREEN AND THEN A SNACK AT SUBWAYS! Okay so it wasn’t a good movie but next week it will be official when “In The Heights” opens up–a show I loved when the Broadway touring company appeared here and the coming attraction trailers really have me excited!! (Ironically, I will be using the gift certificate I got on my 21st Leap Year birthday, Saturday, February 29, 2020, at the Nabu American Fusion Buffet restaurant–which didn’t survive the epidemic!)

Now just waiting for the touring Broadway shows to return to Miami and Broward and my life will be normal plus I can start looking for a new, good restaurant to plan my 22nd Leap Year birthday on Thursday, February 29, 2024!

Posted May 29, 2021 by greatmartin in LIFE, LIFE EVENTS, MOVIES, RESTAURANTS

Back to Big Louie’s!   Leave a comment

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I don’t know exactly how long it has been since I was last at Big Louie’s but it was before February as I remember being surprised that Chuck and Terry picked the Thai place instead to have dinner and then COVID-19 came to town when they left (not that I am inferring anything!)

In any case, after shopping at Dollar Tree and Winn-Dixie I suggested we go and have a pizza so we did. This has been the 4th restaurant we have been to since we had lunch at the Outback on March 12 and the restaurants were shut down. I was hesitant about eating out when they reopened but eventually, in August we went to Cafe Vico and though I wasn’t 100% comfortable Marco follows all the regulations and the food, as always, was excellent.

A week or 2 later, having gift cards, we went to The Cheesecake Factory and though they offer outside dining in August in Fort Lauderdale you don’t eat outside. The dining room was spacious so distances between tables wasn’t a problem and all the staff wore masks.

The following week we went to The Quarterdeck and it being a ‘feel like’ temperature of 101 degrees we ate inside. In addition to spacing tables and staff wearing masks they also took customer’s temperatures when they came in.

We immediately saw a few changes at Big Louie’s including a ‘chef’ statue outside with a sign saying “We are open”. The front dining room was completely redone not only regarding tables but with the decoration also. I loved the woodwork and sign that Marcello’s wife made–look at the bottom left picture. Also, it was great seeing Sheila was still working as a server. She had been the server/assistant manager when I worked there in 1999. We had a pizza which was g-o-o-o-o-o-o-d!

Looks like we will be getting back to having lunch out on Thursdays which I missed!

Posted September 13, 2020 by greatmartin in RESTAURANTS

The Cheesecake Factory VS. the COVID-19 Virus!!   1 comment

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Last Thursday we went for lunch at The Cheesecake Factory and the Godiva cheesecake is as smooth as ever but now I understand why I have money!! Just by not eating out every Thursday for 6 months and/or paying $35 per person, including tip, for a lunch, even just once a week, plus not going to the movies, legit theatre, in other words enjoying life, saves money BUT it is not living!

It’s summer so even normally Los Olas is on the quiet side but with the virus it is dead as was The Cheesecake Factory. There were maybe about 4 tables taken inside and 2 outside so I am sure the servers weren’t making a living but the service was not the best. As a used to be server I can understand this because when a place is busy you get a rhythm going and work faster/better while when it is slow, and you aren’t making money, right or wrong a ‘so what’ attitude takes over.

This is the second time I have eaten out since the COVID-19 virus hit the Fort Lauderdale area in April and, in both cases, the restaurants seem to be following the ‘new rules’ but one never knows what is going on behind the scenes.

Mmmmmm–was the cheesecake worth the gamble? I’ll let you know in a few weeks!

Posted August 11, 2020 by greatmartin in RESTAURANTS, Virus

No movie?? Okay, then Cabo Blanco & Dairy Queen!!   1 comment

Cabo Blanco and Diary Queen Oct 11 2019
“Gemimi”–no thank you! “Lucy In The Sky”–I am not a fan of Natalie Portman and word of mouth hasn’t been too good. “The Addams Family”? PUHLEEZE! “Jexi”? Sounds like a TV rom/com, maybe Tuesday. Okay, I have found out that if I don’t go to a movie on Friday the world doesn’t come to an end. Allen wasn’t in any particular mood to see a movie so I suggested–sometimes I am brilliant!–that we go have lunch at Cabo Blanco for which I had a groupon for and we hadn’t been there in awhile.
 Cabo Blanco is one of my favorite restaurants and the best of the dozen or so Peruvian restaurants that have opened in the past decade. When we first went I tried all 29 lunch specials they had (no, not at one time!!) and there wasn’t a bad one in the group but there was definitely a standout dish: Camarones Saltados, about 12 sauteed shrimp with onions and tomatoes on a pasta in a dark sauce, which I think is soy based but not sure. I do know it is delicious and the price, $11.99, ridiculously low for such a meticulous made dish plus they serve a freshly made chicken soup and a side of various sauces. They use to serve bread with the latter which they no longer do so I don’t know what the sauces are for because the shrimp sauce is great as is! I have had this dish about 20 times and LOVE it!
Afterwards I was moaning that they don’t have plain vanilla ice cream which is something I like to have after a slightly spicy meal and Allen came up with a brilliant idea of going to Dairy Queen in Wilton Manors for dessert! He had a chocolate and I had a vanilla Blizzard! Now that’s what friends are for!
Trust me, the lunch and dessert was better than any movie I could have seen!

Eating out!   Leave a comment

Eating out Sept 2019 Part 1

It is no secret that I love to eat out but, unfortunately, my budget constantly says “NO!” I sort of have it under control in keeping it to Thursdays and Fridays while during ‘theatre season’ Tuesday is added to the list.
On Thursdays, after shopping at the $ Tree and before going to Winn-Dixie, plus the Tuesday nights when we go the theatre in Broward, we sort of eat at a ‘better’ restaurant such as the Outback, Big Louie’s and La Bonne Crepe, while theatre nights it is either the Quarterdeck or Cafe Vico.
Fridays, after the movies, and Tuesdays when we go to the theatre in Miami it is Denny’s at the latter and Subways or Arby’s after the former.
From a dessert crepe made of strawberries, bananas, vanilla ice cream topped with chocolate syrup to a turkey foot-long on herb-garlic cheese and adding cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and onions plus mustard, plus a pizza at Big Louie’s to steak and all the shrimp you can eat at Outback and a Rueban at  Arby’s I do have a varied menu of meals.
Oh, yes, I gave up carbonated sodas about 7 months ago so now I have lemonade at fast food places and late dinners while real coffee at lunch meals at full service restaurants.
The other 4-5 days I am a pretty good boy when I eat at home–well, most times!! I do make my dinners in advance on Saturdays with a basic fish or chicken dish with 2 veggies, a salad, 2 cups of yogurt and an apple. (No, we won’t talk about the carrots cakes, etc.)

Posted September 26, 2019 by greatmartin in DINING REVIEW, FOOD, RESTAURANTS

I know YOU are a BIG tipper but…   1 comment

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Please read this first (in today’s Sun-Sentinel)

I was in the restaurant business for 38 years of my 50 working years, 30 of them in South Florida from 5 star restaurants to joints and I loved being a server turning down many manager offers or opening my own place.

This article makes it seems like this is a new part of restaurant business–it isn’t–going back to 1956 I can name names of where these practices took place and some not even mentioned like ‘paying’ servers to come in and clean the restaurant from top to bottom and being paid with a ‘meal’.

“If you don’t like the job, leave” is easier said than done.

Posted August 18, 2019 by greatmartin in RESTAURANTS

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