East Coast Florida Chow report
My sweetie and I just finished a Florida visit and thought I would give a report:
Havana - West Palm Beach: Cuban. We hit this place for lunch after our flight landed and loved it. I had the #16 the chunks of marinated pork deep fried w/ onions. Yummy and I'm not really a pork fan. My friend loved her Cuban sandwich. A few days later we went to the Norton museum and planned to hit a BBQ place. After seeing Georgia O'Keeffe, we figured we can get BBQ anywhere and decided to go back to Havana. We got the lamb shank and the chicken breast with bacon in Spanish sauce. Just as good. If I lived in town I would be a regular. Nice staff, too.
Columbia - St. Augustine: Spanish. A disappointment. Since we were in a town with a long Spanish heritage we decided to hit this Spanish place that just celebrated it's 100th anniversary. We ordered the paella. I was pretty shocked. It paled in comparison to the paella I get in Hartford at Costa del Sol. Overcooked meat, undercooked rice. Nice place to look at, too bad it stunk. Loved the gelato at the place across the street, though.
Lulu's Bait Shack - Ft. Lauderdale: Cajun. We got into town late and it was pouring out so we stayed close to the hotel. Cajun sounded good so we went to Lulu's after seeing the write-up in hotel mag. This place is just a beer hall. We left half the food on the plate (gumbo, etoffe, BBQ pork). Seemed like it might be a fun place to down a few pitchers, but eat somewhere else.
Himmershee Bar & Grill - Ft. Lauderdale: American. We made a reservation here based on several Chowhound recs as a place to go before a show at the Broward Arts Center. The experience got off to a rocky start on arrival. When we walked in, we were the ONLY people in the dining room. Nevertheless, the young hostess marched us all the way to the back and stuck us at the lousy table that was right between the service bar and the hallway to the kitchen. I said that wasn't going to do, there has to be something a little better. She gave me a look, but moved us to a normal table in the middle of the room. I got a little worried when I looked at the menu and saw all of the entrees in the mid to high $20's. At a bar and grill? But once our server came over, things got better in seconds. We started with a nice cocktail and the unique bread basket with garlic and basil spreadables. Had an order of yummy Chorizo taquitos for an appetizer. They change the menu everyday here. The entrees were awesome. I had the crusted salmon with a creme freche sauce with potatoes. It was beautiful. There was a lot of things going on yet nothing overwhelming, just tasty and nice. The salmon was cooked perfectly to me, medium rare I'd say. My friend had the jerk dolphin fish. We didn't leave a speck on the plate. Just top notch. As we left, we noticed that the hostess had replaced by a grown-up and that back table was being used to stage menus. The best meal on our trip, well worth the price.
Dolphin Bar - Jensen Beach: Seafood. The food here was OK, not great but a fun place to eat on the water. I mention it because it has quite an early bird special. For about $16. bucks you get everything including coffee and dessert. Big portions. The crab & lobster bisque is a must. It's delicious and they put a bottle of cream sherry on your table while you eat it.
Seafood Shack - Jensen Beach: Seafood. I consider this place a "find". The place is tucked in a little strip mall next to the CVS on Hutchenson Island. It's one of those places where the location belies the food coming out of the kitchen. Our one hiccup was that our entrees came out about 2 minutes after we got our apps. Someone screwed up, but everyone was so happy with what they were eating they were forgiven. They have many different and unusual salads that you can have served with your grilled fish on top. Also, they don't have a liquor license so they give away beer and wine with dinner! First time I've seen that!
Wish you had asked before you went to Columbia in St. Augustine. The one in Ybor City is fantastic and I've heard the one in Celebration is very good also. The one in St. Augustine seems to suffer from lack of decent service. Most of the wait staff are from the college down the block and the management hasn't seen fit to train them properly. Also, it's way too touristy.