Archive for the ‘RESTAURANTS’ Category

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

Longhorn Steakhouse–restaurant review   1 comment

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I hadn’t been to a Longhorn since the one on Federal Highway (I think between Sunrise & Oakland–been a long time!) and since we were going to the Regal and I had a coupon for the Longhorn I decided instead of the usual good Sweet Tomatoes and the great Cabo Blanco we would give it a try.

Started off bad with waiting 5 minutes to be seated and even though 3 employees saw us none acknowledged us let alone say something to the effect that they would be right with us. After finally getting seated we once again had to wait about 5 minutes to be greeted by our server. Is it asking too much to at least let us know you are aware we are sitting on your station? After that the service was fine but wish we could say the same thing about the food.

We had a Firecracker Appetizer($9.99)  which was pre-made and probably had been frozen but was okay. Allen had the 12-ounce strip with a salad ($21.49) and a side of Cauliflower Au Gratin ($1.99) which I don’t think he knew was extra but thought counted as one of the sides with the steak. I had the BBQ Bacon Cheddar Burger ($14.49) with the seasoned fries (which were not seasoned as I had requested). We both had water to drink.

Allen didn’t say anything about the steak but thought the cauliflower could have used a little seasoning. The burger I had a  bun that tasted stale and was stacked on one side instead of the middle. Possibly there was a mistake either on my or the server’s part but I am sure I ordered the “$12.99 830 cal , Steakhouse Bacon Cheeseburger* Thick, juicy and expertly grilled, topped with applewood smoked bacon and your choice of cheese on a toasted potato bun.”  but I don’t see the BBQ Bacon on the web menu nor do I see a $14.49 burger! Also, mine came with fried breaded onion strips which I would never order ON a burger. Though I don’t think so I’ll take the blame for the order, something I would never order again.

For dessert Allen had the Chocolate Stampede ($9.49) and the server did say it served two but I decided not to have dessert (see the halo over my head?) even when she brought 2 plates and silverware! He didn’t make any comment good or bad about it.

With 2 discounts our check came to $45.44 including tax plus we left a $12 tip.

Next time we go to the Regal movie theatre we will go to Cabo Blanco or Sweet Tomatoes afterward. Also, comparing chain steak restaurants I would rather go to the Outback for a burger or steak when cost enters the equation.

Posted May 18, 2019 by greatmartin in RESTAURANTS, REVIEWS, Uncategorized

Croissant Time French Bakery   1 comment

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I have a ‘thing’–well a few things–when it comes to restaurants such as I like a scoop of vanilla ice cream after spicy foods or  if I find a restaurant I like I will continue going even if, for whatever reasons, something goes wrong ONCE, twice I won’t go back. I, also, will tell an owner or manager, in a place I am familiar with what went wrong and in many cases, they want to pick up the check or take the item off the menu but I won’t allow it if I ate the food or accidents–like a drink spilled on clothes–didn’t happen.
Just as an aside: if anyone went out of their way I will also tell the manager/owner that as they like to hear the good things along with the bad especially they usually get a lot more of the latter.
Okay, what’s this all about? After eating at Fat Boyz BBQ I wanted something sweet, preferably ice cream. By the way, the last 4 restaurants we ate in the area didn’t have ice cream(!) and between where we were and the Broward Performing Arts Center except for a DD and Baskin Robbins store there isn’t an ‘ice cream’ store unless you want to fight the hassle of going, parking and enjoying Kilwin’s before going to the theatre and even at the BPAC they serve all kinds of snacks in lobby but no ice cream! We decided to go to Croissant Time though it isn’t the easiest place to get to from the BBQ restaurant. 
Walking in the center part of the store you can be overwhelmed by the sights of French pastry in all sizes, colors and aromas but to the left is a small ice cream section. Allen headed to the pastries and I headed for the ice creams. It turned out there were 6 flavors of sorbet (makes sense in a French place) and 2 ice creams. The ice cream choice was easy for me as 1 was coffee and as much coffee every day I don’t like coffee ice cream. As it is I don’t even remember the flavor though looking at the picture I want to say that is butter pecan under the wild black currant sorbet. Allen had 2 pastries with his sorbet.
Two things made my order a disaster! The first was how hard the ice cream and sorbet was and I mean HARD!! I seriously thought the poor guy scooping it out would not only break the scoop but his wrist also. It was understandable that the scoops were very small but the butter pecan was like ice–not ice cream–and the sorbet was gritty.
I will definitely go back to Croissant Time but will stay in the center of the store!
Any easy to get to places in the downtown area for a good ice cream treat?

Posted April 30, 2019 by greatmartin in FOOD, FORT LAUDERDALE, RESTAURANTS, Uncategorized

Another one of my favorite things!   1 comment

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When I was able to afford it I ate out a minimum of 14 meals. As much as I use to love to cook, and did, I love eating out more. Unfortunately, restaurant prices have gone up way more than my income has so I usually am confined to 2 meals a week dining out, except when I have a show to go to and then it is an extra, usually at the Quarterdeck in Fort Lauderdale for their great Jambalaya and Denny’s in Miami because of time and I-95! There are very few foods I won’t eat so I can be as happy in a 5-star restaurant as I can in a fast food place though I admit I prefer a full-service place after 38 years as a waiter.
Of the 5 places above my favorite is the Peruvian Cabo Blanco that has an excellent Shrimp with onions and peppers over noodles made in a soya sauce for $11.95 at lunch and they are not stingy with the shrimp! Plus they serve some homemade soup as part of the meal. Groupon and/or localflavor usually have a 2-4-1 coupon. By the way, they have about 30 specials for lunch of which I have tried 20 and  have not had a bad yet.
For Mexican food I will either go to Tequila Sunrise or Tipico, both having very good Fajitas at reasonable prices, and this past week we went to the former where I had their lunch special of Seafood Medley with Mahi, shrimp, scallops calamari on rice which was more than tasty.
Though a chain I do enjoy Outback for their steak, ribs and bread. Then there is IHOP which I have been going to for decades for their cheese omelet with a short stack of pancakes if not one of their ‘breakfast’ combinations or sometimes a cheeseburger.
I, also, enjoy trying new places and not knowing the owners of the Quarterdeck were branching out and started the Good Spirits I did get a 2-4-1 coupon so we tried it. I would rather go to Quarterdeck!
Due to the fact that restaurants are too expensive, I usually look for coupons for those I go to and new ones. Of the 5 above I had coupons for 3 of them and regarding the Quarterdeck though I didn’t have a coupon I do have one of their reward cards and we will get a free dinner after buying a certain amount, which we would have done anyway (but don’t tell them!)
Will be going to see “Anastasia” on Tuesday and where we would normally go to the Quarterdeck we won’t this time as they are building a new restaurant and their old one will be closed. All I can hope is that their prices don’t jump up because of the new location and what it costs them to build it!
Might try a new bbq place that is opening this weekend though if a place is jinxed it might be that location where they have had 5 restaurants that failed and that plaza has had a few more failures but, being an optimist, this one will prove to be an exception!

Posted April 21, 2019 by greatmartin in FOOD, RESTAURANTS, Uncategorized

Big Louie’srestaurant—again—review–again!   1 comment

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Big Louie’s is one of my favorite restaurants in Fort Lauderdale and everyone I take there, whether local or visitor, agrees it is a good place to eat!
Allen and I went there this afternoon with his having Penne with Meatballs and I had Veal Parm with Baked Ziti along with 6 garlic rolls and we left completely satisfied.
Full disclosure for those who may not know: My last, and one of my best jobs, as a waiter was at Big Louie’s for 3-4 years before I retired and it is one of the very few restaurants that I returned to eat after I stopped working there.
There will always be arguments about where to get the best pizza plus arguments of New York versus Chicago versus Neopolitian versus whatever but I will take Big Louie’s New York style pizza with a good thick crust, a lot of sauce and cheese and varied toppings over the thin, ‘burnt’, tasteless ones made at nameless places.
Big Louie’s has been a neighborhood restaurant now for over 30 years and its longevity attests to good food at reasonable prices.

P.S. Sheila was the manager when I worked there and was very good at her job and now that I left she is the best server there! LOL

Bahama Breeze–restaurant review   1 comment

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Bahama Breeze’s new location on Federal Highway is brightly decorated, has a lot of parking, though the sidewalk opposite handicap parking is a little bit off with the low sidewalk far from the entrance, a young staff does their best but like the rest of the Darden restaurant group it just doesn’t work completely.
There seem to be two reception desks and yet even though with 2 employees at each we didn’t get a greeting and had to let them know we wanted a table though it was obvious we weren’t there to rent a canoe!
After being seated we were approached by a waiter who took our drink order, explained that the menu is big (it is–in size and quantity), to take our time and if we had any questions to be sure to ask. We were certainly off to a good start with him only for him to come over a few minutes later to tell us he had just been told to go on break as he had to work the dinner shift and that our new server would be right over and she did with a big smile.
We had asked for water and after ordering we waited 10-15 minutes for our main course which is all we got! When you are paying $20-25 for a lunch it might be nice to get some “Bahmanien” type of bread or something while waiting for the main course or maybe a complimentary cup of soup or salad.
Allen ordered the Top Sirloin Steak ($17.49) medium but it came medium rare. I had the Seafood Paella ($18.99) which immediately reminded me of the Olive Garden in the sense that is supposed to be Italian food but is very bland. The Paella did have a good variety of seafood, plenty of it and a good portion of rice but there was no ‘kick’, no real spices to give it all taste. I did have a $6 off coupon I had gotten in an email so maybe if I had paid full price I would have gotten some taste.
Allen had the Chocolate Island ($7.49) for dessert which he liked.
The service was slow and I didn’t know whether that was because the server had too many tables, didn’t know how to coordinate serving or possibly the kitchen was slow so I gave her the benefit of a doubt as I never blame servers unless it is obvious.
The check minus the $6 coupon plus tax and tip came to $50 and for lunch for just a main course and a glass of water is a bit high for my budget.
I’m glad I went, gave it a try but it is not a place I would return to as I find most Darden Group restaurants, except for their Steakhouse, just miss that ‘thing’ that makes a restaurant good.

Posted March 7, 2019 by greatmartin in RESTAURANTS, REVIEWS, Uncategorized

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