Where's the Best Cuban Walk-Up Window?

Categories: Review Debut
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Before the holidays, I focused on trying as many Cuban restaurants as I could north of Miami. I wanted to be literate in the area's offerings, but I also wanted to get a sense of two things. The first is why we're seeing a mini Cuban restaurant boom in the 'burbs, with the opening of two Havana's Restaurants and one Las Vegas Cuban Cuisine in Wilton Manors. The second, is what's the story with the walk-up window in our car-dominated culture?

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Tapped Patience at Tap 42

Categories: Review Debut
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As a former high school teacher, I often think of a restaurant a little like a school. The chef is the principal or a president, and the servers are kinda like students. Their tasks might be to know the cuisine, to promote the priorities of the restaurant, and to make people feel welcome. It's a more complicated dance than you'd think.

When we criticize servers, it can be an equivalent of calling students inept in a teacherless classroom. If a school did not have teachers, no one would be surprised if students could not perform tasks well or did not learn a subject. People need constant reinforcement whether they're 15 or 50. And it's not the principal's realm to teach English and Math while she's running the school.

That is why the general manager's job is so important.

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Tap 42

The Food Of A Place

Categories: Review Debut
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One of the things I like about this gig is observing how a region's food culture reflects the demographics, education, priorities, and values of the people who call it home. So when I was asked to write this week's review as a companion piece to Lee Klein's reflection on Miami, my response was the result of this question:
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An Eclectic Asian Oasis in Lauderhill

Categories: Review Debut
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"We can shoot guns after dinner," I said to my friend J.J. in the parking lot of the strip mall that houses Silver Pond in Lauderhill, the subject of this week's review. In the window, a man gearing up for target practice wore a long-sleeved shirt with Mickey Mouse on the back. 

In addition to a shooting range, Oakland Shopping Center houses a handful of interesting shops such as a Bible store and an herbalist who practices acupuncture. But primarily, it's a culinary destination. There's Gou Lou Cheung's Chinese Barbecue for Chinese-style roasted meats. Next door to Silver Pond is Maxin Oriental Bakery, a wan looking place that offers for some of the most delicious pork bao I've had in a while, for under $2 each.

On the other side is Saigon City Vietnamese, for terrific spring rolls and banh mi: roasted pork on a crusty, demi-baguette, served with cucumber, pickled carrots, jalapenos, fish sauce, and cilantro. Some of the fun of going to a Vietnamese place is playing with condiments to achieve that harmony of spicy, sweet, salty, and savory.

Silver Pond Cantonese Restaurant is a destination unto itself.

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Kapow! Noodle Bar's Chef Roy Villacrusis Has Got A Problem

Categories: Review Debut
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The wood-framed interior and an ocean of mural give the illusion of being on an old ship.
"I think I have a problem," said chef Roy Villacrusis of Kapow! Noodle Bar, the subject of this week's review. "I don't care what people think."

He's not just talking about the menu the Mizner Park noodle house that's the most recent restaurant from Rodney Mayo, Scott Frielich, and newer partner Vaughan Lazar. It's his attitude about cooking. I can't quite tell if he's serious when he says it.

"People here like what they like," he said of the area." My menu and what people like don't always match."

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Is Gilt the Next Living Social?

Categories: Review Debut
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Founded in 2007 by former execs from DoubleClick, eBay, and Louis Vuitton, e-commerce site Gilt.com has been called "the darling of luxury-obsessed shoppers" by Fast Company. How does it relate to food? Gourmands with expensive tastes who become members shop for high-end seafood, meat, cheeses, drinks, condiments, you name it -- at a value, like a sample sale.

The site has also lured some top names in food writing to pen content. Under the Stories banner, you'll find editorial from former Gourmet editor Ruth Reichl, writer Francis Lam, New York Times writer Melissa Clark, and Barry Estabrook, author of Tomatoland.

Keep perusing Gilt.com and you'll find a section for cities. This is where it's relevant to diners in New York, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, San Francisco, D.C., and our own market.

On Gilt Miami today, for example, $60 worth of stone crabs delivery for $30 is a waitlisted item. The site also affords access to events like the sold-out Palm Beach Food and Wine Grand Chef Tasting tonight, a $150 ticket event hosted by the Food Network's Scott Conant.

They're a blip now, but Gilt dining events could become as buzzy as the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. By hiring the festival's founder, Lee Schrager, as "chief lifestyle advisor," Gilt's city sites are poised to become dynamos of the discount dining scene. South Florida and New York are the first metro areas of focus because of Schrager's affiliation with them. Other city's plans will roll out in the coming year.

For this week's review, I decided to see what Gilt is all about by attending one of the first staged in Fort Lauderdale, at East End Brasserie. While researching, I spoke with Schrager on his thoughts about Gilt city sites and his role for the website.

Were you a Gilt member before you partnered with it in April?

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Most Manly Restaurant in America Found in Fort Lauderdale

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Men's Health announced today the most manly restaurants in America. And according to the results, the criteria are the following: 

1. To be a manly restaurant, the place must feature foods that don't require utensils, except when it comes to barbecue. 
2. If the restaurant isn't named after a man -- Jack, Tom, Joe, or Jethro -- it should be named for a bold ingredient, like salt or steak. 
3. It must be meatcentric.
4. Like utensils, seating is optional. 

Which restaurant is the winner?

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