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YOLO Restaurant Review

Category : American, Salads, Sandwiches

Yolo - view from outsideIf downtown Fort Lauderdale had a flag signaling the center and heart of the city, a restaurant named YOLO would have that flag on its property.  Perhaps the best view around, YOLO is nestled in between the largest high rises and office buildings around in what makes up a small promenade for Fort Lauderdale, right on Las Olas Boulevard.

You only live once, right?  Well that’s what YOLO stands for, and they certainly deliver the experience in what is one of downtown’s most exclusive hot-spot hangouts.  Whether you are here for lunch, dinner or a fun evening with friends, this is the place to be.

TasteCritics Todd and Brandon venture to the local eatery for lunch and enjoy a beautiful view of downtown on a hot Florida day.  Passing Ferrari’s and Lamborghini’s in the parking lot we wait for a table as Wayne Huizenga gets seated right before we do.  The clientèle is certainly the executives of the city as its business suits, shirts and ties everywhere you look.

Pricing for lunch is quite good considering the excellent ambiance, views of the city and fancy menu selections.  Getting seated at noon is no problem at all, but if you come 20 minutes after noon practically every table was taken.

Todd’s review of the Prime Rib Sandwich:

Yolo - Prime Rib SandwichWhile a little pricey ($16.50), the Prime Rib sandwich sort of jumped off the menu as something tasty.  The waitress gave it accolades as well, so I figured what the heck.

The menu says that the Prime Rib is served on a Garlic Toasted Ciabatta, with melted swiss and caramelized onions, served with thin cut fries.   When it arrived, it was served with a side of au jus sauce.

The Prime Rib is sliced and extremely tender and juicy, cooked perfectly.  The sandwich was abundant with caramelized onions which added a unique sweetness.  A nice amount of warm melted swiss cheese fused the sandwich together to make for a spectacular meal.  The Ciabatta bread made for the perfect compliment accessory since it was soft and thin.  All in all, the sandwich shined as a winner.

The fries were thin shoestring style which is not my favorite presentation for french fries.  It feels like you have to work to hard to get a good amount in your hands.  Also, the au jus sauce was a little on the weak side.  Had it been more robust and seasoned, it would have made for an all-star combination.  While excellent, there is one other Prime Rib Sandwich that scored a higher score, and that’s one from The Cove Restaurant in Deerfield Beach.

This meal is a dinner in a lunches clothing.  You could easily feed two people with the generous portions this meal provides.  Top it off with quality and a killer downtown view, and you’ve got a wonderful lunch that will satisfy all.  I can see why the executives flock to YOLO… to guarantee an experience, not just a lunch.

Todd’s score: 90/100
Pros: Excellent sandwich that is tender and juicy, large portions, killer downtown views, great ambiance
Cons: A little pricey ($16.50), but not bad considering the pros.

Yolo - Outdoor Fire-pit and cocktail lounge Yolo - indoor dining is elegant and classy Yolo - intimate outdoor seating with day-night tiki torches Yolo - even the bathroom kicks butt!

Big City Tavern Review

Category : American, Pizza, Salads, Sandwiches

Big City Tavern - view from Las Olas BlvdBig City Tavern is one of dozens of restaurants lining the street of Las Olas Boulevard, just east of downtown Fort Lauderdale.  If you are visiting Fort Lauderdale and looking for a hotspot, this stretch of Las Olas Blvd would be one of the places you’d want to visit.  Exquisite shops and restaurants to match, Big City Tavern seems to fit right in.

For this review we stop by at lunch time during a perfect Florida day.  Looking for a seat with a view and great food is the mission.  Walking up to the restaurant you can see about a dozen tables that are technically outside, but under a canopy.  There door walls are open allowing the indoor tables to get a feel of the outside.  This reminds me of Little Italy in New York. :)

Pricing is a notch higher than typical restaurant in the area, but it fits right in for the restaurants in this particular stretch of Las Olas Blvd.  Most dishes start around $10 and go up.  Aesthetically, the restaurant is very pleasing with rich detail and warm colors.

Todd’s review of the Sirloin Gorgonzola Burger with Ceasar Salad

Big City Tavern - Gorgonzola burger and ceasar saladBrowsing the menu I was delighted to see a nice mix of entrees with several unique sounding items to try.  There was a bunch of pizza, salad and other specialty dishes, but me being me… I was in the mood for a mans lunch, so I chose the Sirloin Gorgonzola Burger.  It comes with a Caesar salad and burger condiments for $12.

When it arrived at the table it did look unique.  It is served open faced and the burger looks quite large.  It was literally the size of a tube of socks rolled up.  I wondered why it was this shape; but after cutting into it it was obvious.  The burger was rolled into this shape with the Gorgonzola cheese trapped on the inside prior to cooking.  It’s like a beef twinky, with Gorgonzola cheese instead of frosting.

It really is quite delicious.  The warm Gorgonzola cheese was smooth and rich and complimented the burger very well.  Though it came with onion, tomato and lettuce, this ‘burger’ didn’t need anything other than a knife and fork (and a little ketchup).  The Caesar salad however was a little lacking.  It seemed as if little effort went into this.  The salad was very light on dressing and therefor lacked flavor.  Perhaps 4 or 5 croutons were in included, otherwise it would almost literally be a handful of lettuce .  Perhaps ask for dressing on the side so you can add more to kick up the taste.

While the food scored some points, the service was lacking.  Our waiter forgot to give us silverware (when the food arrived we had to lean over to another table and get it ourselves), forgot that Brandon ordered a coke (never brough it) and had to be visually queued to refill our drinks.  I saw the owner/manager making his rounds to various tables to see how things were going, but ironically, he skipped “the reviewers” table twice, even after I made direct eye contact with him, inviting him to ask.  I find this amusing because here I am reviewing the restaurant and he just walks on by.  It was a nice touch though for the majority of patrons he did stop to greet.

The Big City Tavern has a executive/snooty feel to it with most of the people dining in being men in shirts and ties.  The view of Las Olas was excellent and the restaurant as a whole has a upper class feel and high end decorated look.  With several dished coming in between $10 and $15 I can recommend this place for a treat.

Todd’s score: 86/100
Pros:
Burger itself was delicious, very unique and of good size.  Ambiance was great. Nice outdoor seating options.
Cons: Ceasar salad was ho hum and the service was severely lacking. Some items on menu are expensive.

Brandon’s review of the Grilled Chicken Baguette with Mozzarella, Romesco Sauce and Fries

Big City Tavern - chicken sandwichI’ve eaten at Big City Tavern many times in the past but usually I order the special (generally a salmon dish) which is always very good. This time I decided to try something and went with the grilled chicken baguette with mozzarella and romesco sauce. I think it was the romesco sauce that piqued my curiosity – I wasn’t sure exactly what it was, but that was quickly rectified by a quick search on Wikipedia via my iPhone. For those of you also unfamiliar with Romesco sauce, here is the description straight from Wikipedia:  “Romesco is a sauce originating in Tarragona, Catalonia, that is typically made from almonds, pine nuts, and/or hazelnuts, roasted garlic, olive oil and nyores – a smaller, sweet, dried variety of red bell pepper. Other common ingredients include roasted tomatoes, red wine vinegar and onion.”

When delivered, the sandwich looked quite appetizing and by the time it arrived I was quite hungry.  In general I am burnt out on sandwiches since that seems to be a frequently purchased item by myself and Todd given all the sandwich places in the Fort Lauderdale area. However I must say that this sandwich was quite delicious. It was a bit different given the Romesco and large, thick slices of mozzarella cheese. The chicken was grilled to perfection and it was all tied together nicely on a flavorful baguette. It took me a few bites to realize how much I was actually enjoying the sandwich and it wasn’t long before I had polished off the entire thing.

The accompanying french fries were also quite good (though not as good as those at Argentelle Cafe).  All in all it was a delicious lunch and I can’t really think of anything negative other than the subpar service as Todd described earlier.  Regardless, I will be here again and I will definitely be ordering up this sandwich!

Brandon’s score: 89/100
Pros:
Different but delicious chicken sandwich; Overall meal was very satisfying and atmosphere was quite pleasant.
Cons: Price is a bit high (compared to what we are used to) and service could have been better.

Big City Tavern - menu and a nice shadow of my iphone Big City Tavern - indoor seating with an outdoor view Big City Tavern - indoor dining area

Offerdahl’s Cafe Grill Review

Category : American, Salads, Sandwiches

Offerdahls Cafe Grill - view from outsideOfferdahl’s Cafe Grill is located on the first floor plaza of a large office building on 5th avenue in the heart of downtown Fort Lauderdale.  There are 7 Offerdahl’s locations within 15 miles of  the downtown area.  For workers downtown however, it doesn’t get much easier than this to visit.

Offerdahl’s Cafe Grill has a unique menu of relatively healthy offerings including bagels (for breakfast) and lunch/dinner offerings including salads, sandwiches, soups and their signature entrees consisting of ‘chop bowls’ which are basically a chicken/salmon/beef diced on top of chopped veggies/rice/slaw.

The only parking available are a handful of metered spots along 5th avenue and some parking garages that are nearby.  Lunch pricing is a little higher than some of the local eateries, but their unique offerings help compensate for that.

Todd’s Review of the Ginger Thai Bowl with Grilled Salmon

Offerdahls Cafe Grill - Ginger Thai with SalmonIt seems as if there are a million sandwich shops in the area, so when I come to Offerdahl’s I get what makes them unique.  Their chop bowls entrees offer unique flavors and relatively guilt free eating because of all the fresh ingredients.

The Ginger Thai bowl comes with rice, diced cucumber, ginger slaw (which is great), scallions and peanuts.  It is then topped with just off the grill diced chicken.  You can however (at no extra charge) swap out the chicken for either beef or salmon.  They include a side container of Thai peanut dressing and a bread stick.

The photo above is of the ‘regular’ sized bowl which comes in at $8.99.  You can get a large bowl for only a dollar more, but in all honesty, the regular is plenty large for a single eater.  Paying the extra dollar will likely mean you have leftovers for tomorrow.

The meal itself is very good.  It is sort of difficult to find meals downtown that you could consider healthy, but this is one that falls in that category.  The Thai dressing ties together all the ingredients perfectly.  Normally I am not a big fan of coleslaw, but their ‘ginger slaw’ is one of the best parts of the meal.  It’s an American dish with a strong Thai influence.

You may want to ask for an extra container of sauce though.  The one they give you is just enough, and a little extra means you have something to dip that breadstick into.

Todd’s Score: 84/100
Pros:
Nice Healthy Option, Good taste, portions are about perfect for the regular size
Cons:$9.53 (after tax) is a little pricey for a lunch, orders are not always delivered quickly

Todd’s Review of the Spicy Shrimp Bowl:

Offerdahl’s Cafe Grill - Spicy Shrimp BowlOverpriced Garbage!

I’ve wondered when I would write a review when I found a meal I actually did NOT like, well that review is this review.

When I walked into Offerdahl’s today they had a big sign advertising this bowl.  The photo I took looks quite wonderful, as wonderful as the photo they took.   However, when it came time to eating it, things went downhill rapidly.

The sauce that came with it was more like a mild mustard than anything.  It was not spicy and it was just okay enough to make about 30% of the meal edible.  Once poured on top of the bowl I began to eat.  The bowl actually has a good mix of veggies including broccoli, cucumbers, carrots, rice and of course the shrimp.  The sauce did very little to add flavor to the meal though, and I found myself eating large mouthfuls of flavorless mass.  It reminded me of cows when they chew on hay bails. chew chew chew… but nothing of any importance.

The Ginger Thai bowl I review above is quite tasty, however this meal is a $9.53 mistake. Avoid it at all costs.  To add insult to injury, I had to ask for the bread stick.  For some reason, the free bread stick you are entitled to must be ASKED FOR in order to receive.  Kind of dumb.

Todd’s score: 42/100
Pros: The grilled shrimp was actually good
Cons: The sauce is horrible and the entire meal is flavorless.  My as well eat straw.  $9 for nothing.

Offerdahls Cafe Grill - dining area Offerdahls Cafe Grill - placing an order Offerdahls Cafe Grill - Menu Board