Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Restaurant Review: Market 17 (Ft. Lauderdale)

Market 17
When I first arrived to Ft. Lauderdale, while in the taxi headed for our resort, I noticed a restaurant by the name of Market 17.  It looked like a quaint little place and there was a sign saying it had just opened in October.  In DC, I always love trying places within the first few weeks of their opening so I jumped at the opportunity of trying this new restaurant.

Later that evening, I Googled them and was glad to see they had a clean, fully-functioning website, which seems to be rare among newer restaurants for some reason.  Since, I'd already made reservations that evening for YOLO, I decided to schedule something for the next day.

We arrived around 8:00PM to a scene that was the total opposite of YOLO the night before.   It was very low-key, not at all crowded.

Within moments of being seated we were warmly greeted by our waiter.  He explained to us that the restaurant was based on a "farm to table" concept which meant they dealt with local farmers for everything from the vegetables to chicken, beef, fish, etc.  There were so many options, and each of them was paired with an interesting selection of ingredients which made the decision even harder.

I would have to say I was most surprised by their extensive wine list, they have over 350 different varieties.  I really liked the fact they offered their wine by the glass in 1/2 glasses which made it extremely affordable  to try out a few, my first glass was only $4.50 which is unheard of in DC, even during happy hour.

When it was time to order our waiter came over and I still had no idea what to choose since everything on the menu looked so yummy.  I ended up starting with ceviche, because I  love it and when I read that was custom-made, I knew it was something I had to try.  What an experience! The snapper and shrimp I chose were so fresh, they could've been caught that same day and I wouldn't have been surprised.  The other ingredients created such an excitement in my mouth, I ohhed and ahhed the entire time.  I can still taste it.

I ended up ordering the chicken breast with potato risotto, mushrooms, onions, walnuts and a sherry vinegar pan sauce.  When it came out I didn't even want to touch it.  I have a thing for meals that are nicely plated.  When I took my first bite of the chicken and risotto, it tasted as beautiful as it looked.  It was tender, juicy and seasoned to perfection.  My coworker had the poached Maine lobster served in a rich basil and cream sauce with collard greens.  I took a small bite of her lobster and I'd have to say it was amazing.

Lastly, I was full but had to try some dessert.  They had chocolate cake on the menu and it came highly recommended by our server so of course I had to try it.  Like the other dishes the dessert came out so beautifully plated I didn't know where to start.  The cake was coated with a cylindrical layer of milk chocolate, topped with cream and chocolate shavings.  That dessert was so good, I could have easily demolished the entire thing but I was so full, I settled for eating the cake but leaving the chocolate coating.  Our server commented on it but I was find with it, it was just enough to keep me satisfied.

After dinner our server gave us a tour of their "Dining in the Dark" room a concept that apparently is big in Europe and has a small following of restaurants in LA and South Beach (Miami).  It was a small glass enclosed room with large, curtains to keep all light out.  Those who dine in the room as seated at one of the 3 tables and serves from a tasting menu.  The trick to it is you eat completely in the dark which is supposed to heighten your sense of taste.  I need to check around and see if they have any places like that in the DC area because it's definitely something I'd love to try.

Although I don't live in Ft. Lauderdale, I have a feeling Market 17 could definitely be one of the city's Hidden Gems.  The food was amazing and the service could not have been better.  Hopefully, I'll make it back down that way soon!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Restaurant Review: YOLO (Ft. Lauderdale)

Last week, I spent several days in Ft. Lauderdale for a mix of business and pleasure.  We stayed at the Marriott Harbor Beach which is a fabulous oceanfront resort with several restaurants and plenty of outdoor activities.  Although the resort is designed to provide its guests with everything they needed, we decided to venture out to a few local restaurants.

Our first stop was at a restaurant called YOLO. (YOLO stands for "You Only Live Once")  We pulled up to the restaurant at 7:00PM on a Wednesday to a vibrant scene.  The driveway leading to the entrance hosted several high-end vehicles including a Maserati and a Bentley.  When I saw this I knew I'd chosen a great place.  The weather was beautiful so we asked to be seated outside.  I was so glad I made reservations well in advance because we would never have gotten a seat.

We were seated and immediately our waitress came over and informed us of the specials and took our drink orders.  I ordered The Devil's Hammer, a drink that contained Patron Tequila and Bourbon infused cherries.  What drew me to it, besides the fact I'm a lover of Patron, was because on the menu it said in bold "Limit 3". If they had a limit, I figured it had to be good and it was. 

We began by ordering the meatball sliders topped with blue cheese.  While, I'm usually not a fan of blue cheese, these sliders were absolutely delicious.  The cheese was very mild so it complemented the sauce on the meatball very well.  The meatballs were so tender and juicy, they just melted in my mouth.  Next we had the YOLO chips, which were handmade, thick-cut potato chips with blue cheese, bacon pieces, and truffles. They were also very tasty and filling.

By the time my entree arrived I was already pretty full but of course I made room for crabcakes. They were lightly breaded, just the way I like them, and the portions were huge, I didn't even know where to start.  The only thing I didn't like was they were very heavy-handed on the sauce.  The crabcakes already had a different kind of topping, the sauce they were sitting in was overkill.  It came with a huge side of shoestring french fries and green apple slaw.  Both were great but again the portions were huge so I barely ate half of the plate.
Overall, I enjoyed the food, drinks, and the atmosphere.  It definitely seemed more trendy like something  you'd find on South Beach or even LA, not Ft. Lauderdale at all.  It was definitely a welcomed surprise.


YOLO Restaurant - You Only Live Once
333 E. Las Olas Blvd
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301-2259
(954) 523-1000

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Savvy Deals: Village Vines

Recently, I learned about a new website called Village Vines.  Village Vines is somewhat like a OpenTable.com meets Groupon.  Members join for FREE and have a chance to get great discounts on a number of popular restaurants.  You book your reservation online, pay a $10 fee, and you'll receive 30% off of food and beverages. 

The biggest advantage is you do not need to bring a coupon or print out with you, the discount will come off automatically on your bill.  (Hint: Fellas if you want to save a few dollars on your next date, this is the perfect way to do it.)

Village Vines provides discounts to popular restaurants in Washington, DC, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.

The statement below was taken from their website.
VillageVines gives food lovers access to preferred pricing with their city's most popular restaurants. We make your dining experiences more convenient and more affordable, and we do so by partnering with the best dining establishments – from the restaurant icons to the up and coming gems.

If you haven't tried VillageVines, give it a try for FREE.  Please accept my invitation below:

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Heineken Inspire Tour Hits DC

Last week I was forwarded an email about an upcoming event hosted by Heineken.  Although, I'm not much of a beer drinker it seemed to be an interesting event that I had to be a part of.

The email describing the event said something to the effect that it was for influential Washingtonians and they we were being invited to attend a (complimentary) 3 course dinner at Acadiana as part of the Heineken Inspire Tour.  I love the food at Acadiana and I'm all about networking so I quickly sent in my RSVP.

On Thursday morning, I finally received a response saying I'd been confirmed for attendance.  When I followed up with the other young ladies, including the one who originally sent me the email, I found out I was the only one who had received confirmation.  At first I was a little bummed because I really didn't want to go by myself since it seemed kind of exclusive but I figured hey why not.

The invite noted early arrival was suggested and the dinner would start promptly at 7:30.  Due to traffic caused by Howard Homecoming and people in town for the Stephen Colbert & Jon Stewart Rally, it took me nearly 30 minutes to get there from right down the street. 

When I arrived, I was told the event was being held in a private room and proceeded to the back of the restaurant.  After making my way through the crowd of 50 or so young professionals, I realized I didn't see a one person I knew which is strange for me considering DC is so small.  Soon I ended up making eye contact with a gentleman who I later found out was on the production crew for the night's events and he provided a little more insight as to what to expect for the evening.  He also introduced me to his coworker who produced Erykah Badu's Window Seat video. 

They were serious about the event being for the influential and some of DC's movers and shakers.  I met a variety of people from Heineken's Director of Corporate Responsibility (a field I'm looking to get in to) to the chief of staff for a well-known Congresswoman.  We were treated to a lavish dinner which included 3 choices of entrees, shrimp and grits, duck, or steak.  Dinner was rounded out with a dessert topped with Heineken, I had to pass.  All in all, it was a great networking event.  Apparently, it was the last stop for this year, glad they decided to save the best for last!

On Saturday, Heineken hosted a day party at LOVE night club that featured Rick Ross, The Clipse, Wale and special guest Erykad Badu.  Unfortunately, I didn't get to use the 2 free tickets (they gave each of the dinner guests) but I heard a great time was hard by all.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Things to Do: Spy at Night Tour

One of the best parts of living in the Washington, DC area is being surrounded by so many forms of cultural entertainment, most widely-known are the museums.  Everyone has heard of the Smithsonian Institution and their collection of museums and art galleries, all of which are free and open to the public.

In addition to the Smithsonian, we have several others but some of my favorites are the Newseum, the National Museum of Crime & Punishment and The International Spy Museum.  Although these three are not free, they are definitely worth the cost of admission.

The Spy Museum is one of my favorites because I'm very inquisitive and I love a challenge. I'd been the Spy Museum before but it wasn't until recently that I found out they have so much more to offer than just general admission and self-guided tours. They also have several other "experiences" including Spy in the City, Spy at Night, Operation Spy and Spy City Tour (which is a scavenger hunt that takes you around Washington, DC).

Recently, I went on a date and he decided on the Spy at Night / Operation Spy package.  I thought it was a great idea so I was game.  We arrived there a little earlier than the scheduled time and they allowed us to walk around inside of the museum for about 30 minutes before our scheduled start time.  They have many intriguing exhibits and the museum features the many espionage tools that exist, past and present. 

Fast forward to the tour,  It began with a small group of about 14 of us being briefed by a "spy". We were told we had a mission to complete and throughout the hour long journey, we operated cameras, listened to wire taps, disarmed bombs, and even did a little running.  I won't go into much more but it was a lot of fun and made for a great date.  At the end, they give you a refreshing a cocktail prepared by one of the bartenders from Zola, their neighboring restaurant. 

If you're looking for something fun to do in the city on a Friday or Saturday, make sure you check out the Spy at Night tour.

International Spy Museum
800 F Street, NW
Washington DC 20004