A Perfect Partnership: The Cook & the Cork Delivers Creative Comfort Fare in Coral Springs

Categories: Review

Photo by Candace West
The Cook & the Cork co-owners Dena Lowell and Keith Blauschild.
Boy meets girl. They fall in love. They live happily ever after.

At the Cook & the Cork in Coral Springs, the tale goes a little differently. Chef meets event planner. They build a successful catering empire. They open a restaurant.

Parkland Catering owners Keith Blauschild and Dena Lowell are now partners in life as well as business. While managing staff, shuffling dishes, and filing invoices seven days a week might ruin the magic for some couples, for these two, the food business only seems to fuel their passion. They stare madly into each others' eyes as they inventory crates of tomatoes and stack boxes of noodles. Both agree that their businesses -- and the food they create -- wouldn't exist without their union.

See also: Closer Look: Cook & the Cork in Coral Springs

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Perfect Balancing Act: Thai and Sushi at Tamarind in Deerfield Beach

Categories: Review

All photos by Candace West
Tamarind executive chef Jaruwat "Tom" Nanogkhai.
From Chiang Mai special noodle soup to spice-packed curries, Thai food is anything but simple. It's a complicated choreography of ingredients like fish sauce, dried shrimp paste, and lemongrass combined with seemingly incongruous spices such as coriander, basil, garlic, ginger, cumin, cardamom, and cinnamon. But the heart of this cuisine is about balance, a chef mastering the full spectrum of flavors and creating a single, harmonious finish.

At Tamarind Asian Grill and Sushi Bar, a long-established Thai eatery in Deerfield Beach, that balance has been achieved by owner Khruawan Russmetes. From Thailand, she first came to the U.S. in the 1970s by way of New York, opening her first restaurant soon after. Missing her native country's warmer climes, Russmetes relocated to South Florida in 1982, selling her New England establishment and opening a second, Hialeah's Thai House. It was the first of a string of Thai eateries -- one closing here, another opening there -- as far south as Miami Beach. Several, including Thai House II in North Miami Beach and Thai House South Beach, are still in operation, albeit under new ownerships.

One thing they all had in common, however, is sushi.

See also: Pizzeria Oceano's Dak Kerprich Opening Swell Pizza in Delray Beach

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Madras Café Is Short on Service but Delivers Where It Counts: On Your Plate

Categories: Review

Candace West
Owner Soye Thomas

A country of vast cultural dimension, tradition, and ethnic diversity -- and the fact that its people speak up to 17 languages and close to 1,000 dialects -- India is living proof variety is the spice of life.

In no facet of Indian life is this more true that in its gastronomy, which offers a wide range of diversity as you travel from north to south. And yet, here in the States, many Indian restaurants serve only the rich, buttery dishes of northern India, or Punjabi-style fare, never attempting the more exotic fare of the southern climes.

At Madras Café in Pompano Beach, the specialty is South Indian cuisine, a distinctly different set of dishes. If tikka masala and tandoori are all you've ever known, the menu at Madras is a welcome departure from the usual.

See also: Madras Cafe in Pompano Beach (Photos)

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Temple Street Eatery Offers Asian Fusion That Is Anything but Traditional

Categories: Review

In the main dining room: Alex Kuk (general manager and co-owner) and Diego Ng (chef and co-owner).
Alex Kuk grew up in a restaurant family.

When other kids were out playing after school, Kuk was at work. While his friends celebrated holidays, he and his family were busy waiting on festive diners.

"It's not your typical lifestyle," says Kuk. "Family time is creative. Dinner may be at midnight at the restaurant. It all comes with the territory; it's not your standard 9 to 5."

Kuk, the grandson of a Miami restaurateur and nephew of Christina Wan (of the eponymous Mandarin House), and his family have owned dining establishments throughout South Florida since 1966.

And his Temple Street Eatery is the latest addition to the Wan family's roster.

See also: Temple Street Eatery in Fort Lauderdale (Photos)

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C-Viche Offers Peruvian Fusion in Pembroke Pines

Categories: Review

Chef Miguel Rios and the Camarones Jumbo C-Viche: Sauteed Jumbo Shrimp with hot aji Amarillo sauce cognac and spices served with Piura style rice.
Gastronomically speaking, Peru is a kaleidoscope of culture, the culmination of a nearly 500-year melting pot of Spanish, African, Japanese, and Chinese soldered together by the country's own indigenous cuisine.

Quintessentially simple, many of the country's best dishes are peasants' fare: whole fish pulled from the Atlantic Ocean and cut and served raw, or rice and bean-based platters accented with pit-roasted meats.

While you can find pollo a la brasa on nearly any South Florida street corner, archetypical Peruvian fare like anticuchos (grilled skewers of meat and shellfish) or arroz chaufa (Peruvian-Chinese fried rice) can be harder to find.

In Pembroke Pines, however, you have some options thanks to a number of restaurants spread over a few miles west of I-95 along a Peruvian-inflected strip of Pines Boulevard.
This is where you will find C-Viche Restaurant, which joined the ranks of the area's small, family-run establishments about six months ago with little fanfare. Located in a strip mall best-known for the lure of craft doughnuts (Mojo Doughnuts is next door), the restaurant is easy to overlook despite a bold red sign.

See also: Old Heidelberg Serves an Authentic Bavarian Feast for Oktoberfest

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Old Heidelberg Serves an Authentic Bavarian Feast for Oktoberfest

Categories: Review

Few cultural festivals are more internationally celebrated than Oktoberfest, but odds are you have no idea how it came to be. It all started with a royal wedding.

On October 12, 1810, Crown Prince Ludwig was married to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen in Munich. As was the case with any proper sovereign event, the area's commoners were invited to join in the affair. Festivities were set up on the fields next to the city's front gates. (The field picked up the moniker Theresienwiesse, or Therese's field, named for the princess.) The events culminated with a horserace, attended by the royals, several days later, on October 17. The following year, the horserace was repeated, resulting in the development of the tradition. Also, an agricultural show, intended to promote Bavarian agriculture, was added to the roster.

Over the past couple of centuries, much has changed. Carousel and games were incorporated. The dates were moved to late September to take advantage of better weather. And most important, a few beer stands with the backing of the local breweries, expanded to include massive tents and halls.

Once a local Bavarian festival, the two-plus week event now attracts more than 6 million visitors from around the globe. The pilgrimage, however, is no cheap thrill. So German bars, restaurants, beer halls, and cultural centers around the world honor the tradition in their own way.

Old Heidelberg Restaurant, New Times' 2014 pick for Best German Restaurant, is one of many.

See also: Rolling Into Pembroke Pines: Latin House Grill Proves Mobile Kitchens Have Staying Power

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Rolling Into Pembroke Pines: Latin House Grill Proves Mobile Kitchens Have Staying Power

Categories: Review

Owner and Chef Michell "Chef M" Sanchez.
When the economy tanked in late 2008, Cuban-born Michell Sanchez ended up like many others -- down on his luck. After his business buying and selling gold crumbled, he went from a life of luxury and globetrotting to nothing.

"I lost everything: my car, my condo," recalls Sanchez, who looks a little like a Latin Guy Fieri. "I moved into an efficiency apartment next door to my mom. It was a perfect storm. I knew I had to do something, but the last thing I wanted to do was cook. It was embarrassing. I didn't want to go from making a lot of money to flipping tacos."
Then he met his future wife, Bella, a Mexican beauty enthralled by the spices and cuisine of her homeland. Inspired by both Bella and his mother, Teresa, who had worked as a bakery manager at Miami's fabled Versailles Cuban Restaurant, Sanchez began sketching out a plan for a food truck.

In 2010, the trio bought a used truck from Orlando and rolled out Latin House Grill alongside just a handful of mobile kitchens. The truck was one of the first to hit the streets of South Florida. It set up shop at the corner of Bird Road and SW 83rd Street, selling burgers and tacos. Bella took orders at the window, while Teresa helped work the flat-top and fryer. Even his 84-year-old grandmother got involved, sitting outside the truck to pose as a hungry patron.

They made $27 on their first day of business.

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Chic, Upscale Tsukuro Is a Sign That Rowdy Fort Lauderdale Beach Is Ready to Grow Up

Categories: Review

All photos CandaceWest.com
It's come a long way over the past couple of decades, but Fort Lauderdale Beach is still most widely known for its absurd spring-break antics from its heyday. Perms, short shorts, copious amounts of cheap booze: The beach was once a veritable frat house on steroids.

In the late '80s, that all started to change as the powers that be sought to discourage the rowdy riffraff and encourage better-behaved (and more lucrative) tourists. The strip is now interspersed with high-end resorts and eateries.

Even so, a fragment of the "glory days" still hangs on in the historic intersection of Las Olas Boulevard and A1A, with the ever-present Elbo Room and other bars clinging to cheap drinks and catering to tourists and local beach bums looking to get rowdy.

Tsukuro owner A.J. Yaari, who is the proprietor of many of the strip's bars and restaurants -- Spazio, Sangrias, Rock Bar, St. Barts Coffee Co., and the infamous watering hole Dirty Blondes -- has experienced the transitions firsthand; he started working on the beach making six bucks an hour at the tail end of the spring-break days.

"When the college students stopped coming, the business owners looked at it like a failure," says Yaari. "I saw an opportunity to start a business."

See also: Tsukuro on Fort Lauderdale Beach (Photos)

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Jimmie's Cafe 47 Descended From a Chocolate Shop to Serve Caribbean-Inspired Tapas

Categories: Review

Rob Granado, the General Manager and Chef at Jimmie's Cafe.
Only in South Florida could an iconic chocolate shop give birth to a Caribbean-inspired tapas restaurant.

In 1946, Jimmie Vonglis and his family escaped war-torn Europe for a new life in the States. A year later, he opened the doors to Jimmie's Chocolates in Dania Beach.

Vonglis is long gone, and the shop has changed hands several times since then, but his legacy lives on at his original storefront, which is hailed as the longest-running chocolate shop in the state.

Owners Rodney Harrison and Ken Smith took over the property in the late '90s. While the pair were originally interested only in the real estate, when they approached the former owner, he implored them to carry on the legacy of the historic business.

Call it faith, stupidity, or just a spark of intuition; the two businessmen decided to take a chance and revive the chocolate shop.

See also: Jimmie's Cafe 47 in Dania Beach (Slideshow)

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Noodle Nirvana: Hollywood's GoBistro Is a Ramen Lover's Dream

Categories: Review

All photos by CandaceWest.com
We've all had ramen. For most Americans, it comes from styrofoam cups in flavors like "oriental" and "seafood." We eat it when we are short on time, hungover, broke, or living in a dorm.

The Japanese would shake their heads at this; for them, ramen is something of a national dish. More than just broth and noodles, it's an art form in itself, with museums and restaurants dedicated to its craft, some so narrowly focused as to concentrate on just one style, flavor, and noodle.

See also: GoBistro in Hollywood (Photos)

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