Decadent & Unpretentious

Dining and drinking lavishly in the evening is expected. Doing so in broad daylight is borderline delinquent, and that much more pleasurable. I had the luxury to experience a decadent lunch with a friend at The Foxy Brown in Fort Lauderdale, which set the stage for the rest of my week.

Image
Patio

I was drawn in at the sound of half priced wine bottles. We made our way to the Broward Boulevard niche, and called so because one is not quite sure of the purpose of the locale, with a drive by. Although the title was clearly stated and the restaurant sat on a highly trafficked road, it did not scream fine dining at first glance. There was also a sign on the sidewalk, reminding passer byes that it was open for lunch or dinner, but again, the facade was perplexing. In any case, upon arrival, we chose to sit outdoors, in a patio adorned with plants, yet facing the parking lot. The humble décor and intimate setting were fitting for lunch, but lacked personality. There was ample opportunity to liven the ambiance in an individual manner. However, the interior softened the look, by playing with oranges and browns, providing warmth. Overall, the décor emitted comfort and simplicity, which translated to the menu.

Image
Mussels

The choices were not extensive, but I wanted to order almost every item. We began with the mussels, cooked in a garlic curry sauce, topped with sautéed spinach and served with fresh garlic bread. Again the simplicity shined through, but as did the succulence. The garlic was used with rage, yet the flavor came through subtly. The sauce was not described on the menu, therefore it was a pleasant surprise, as I anticipated a traditional tomato broth. If it had been served with a spoon, we would have turned the sauce into a soup. Woops!

Image
Med. Dry Riesling

In the meantime, we had the opportunity to order a bottle of Riesling to share, at an unreasonably low price. The wine list in total was not extensive either, and the choices listed were not to please a connoisseur. I am no acclaimed sommelier, but most diners would find a wine to appropriately pair their meal with. Again, the beauty lied in its modesty.

Image
Lump Crab Cakes

Pour la piece de resistance, we shared the lump crab cakes with a five grain mustard sauce, and served with more sautéed spinach. The cakes were generous in size, in quality, and in decadence. The breadcrumbs were minimal, yet the cakes held together nicely. In addition, the buttery sauce further softened them, and rose the bar for lunches served everywhere in South Florida. Such a velvety dish typically emerges after sundown, but the boldness was much appreciated. As for the spinach, it was dressed with salt and pepper mostly, and lightly sautéed. Frankly, I was unimpressed by the side dish, but in a world of such rich foods, it felt right to eat my vegetables.

Image
Mac & Cheese

Speaking of richness, we also ordered a side of mac & cheese. It was baked and served in the baking dish, while toped with breadcrumbs. The yellow cheddar was distributed evenly and the use of elbow macaroni was appropriate. I had hoped for a white cheddar dish instead, but the mac & cheese complimented the crab cakes perfectly. The combination of these creamy dishes emphasized The Foxy Brown’s role as a comfort food kitchen, and at that, they had succeeded. I was comforted, if you will.

Image
White Chocolate Bread Pudding

To end things on a good note, dessert was a must. Our server recommended the white chocolate bread pudding, served warm. I am normally not a fanatic of bread pudding due to the texture, but to my surprise, this pudding was firm enough, yet tender enough. It was also topped with vanilla bean ice cream, caramel and crunchy pecans. The ice cream’s grade needed improvement; however the dessert as a whole was a perfect ending to our comfort meal. The white chocolate did not overpower, and the contrast in temperatures stressed the opulence. Lying on a hammock, following our meal, would have made it ideal!

In reference to endings, the check was absurdly low and the service had been delightfully attentive, which may serve as encouragement in becoming a regular patron. After the experience, I was able to connect the dots, in terms of the restaurant’s image. Perhaps the unassuming facade was deliberate, as were the color scheme and simplistic menu. Perhaps the unpretentious atmosphere was apart of the adventure, as were the balance in rich and healthy items. Definitely. Our meal had been so enjoyable that it came close to some of life’s dearest pleasures. It had brought joy to our hearts and a perpetual smile to our lips. It transformed our notion of lunch, emotionally and gastronomically.

Cocktail Library 

Cocktail Library

In college, many of us headed to the library, at times not only to study, but to do our work around a certain group of people, perhaps meet new ones during coffee breaks.  We go for the ambiance. Well, imagine a library strictly reserved for those coffee break moments, while replacing coffee with cocktails. That place is The Corner.

Image

The Corner is a neighborhood bar in downtown Miami, and a gem if I may. So much so, that it deserves an issue of its own, dedicated to one cocktail.  Although The Corner does serve an assortment of salads, sandwiches and snacks, the bar in particular, deserves homage. Despite its small size, every corner of the location is crafted with care. The bar back resembles a library out of Harry Potter, especially due to the sliding ladder. Not to fear, the books have all been exchanged for liquor. The staff also uses fresh fruits and herbs to amplify their original drinks. A small kitchen hides on the left, sitting across from a communal bar with stools, where guests can savor snacks and drinks of course; while the walls are adorned with original cloth wallpaper with a blue tint. Despite the dark look, the dimming lights definitely set a welcoming scene, and the live band adds to it. To clarify, the band only played for a short period. The Corner is a place where you can have a true conversation, with bartenders, friends and strangers alike. The pretension goes out the window, in spite of its location at the core of Miami. Speaking of windows, a small frame hides behind the bar, to easily serve guests sitting outdoors. It is so convenient and laid back, that I felt as if my heels did not belong.

Image

The crowd mixes various age groups effortlessly, along with different styles: trendy, hipster, fratty etc… But most guests have one thing in common: they came to have a good time without the bullshit. I was surprised by how comfortable I felt with strangers. For those who know me personally, I typically speak to strangers on the regular, but at a bar, one must be a little more careful, no? At The Corner, that wall breaks down, not only for me, but for most. In short, gentlemen of Miami, go meet girls there! They should not give you a hard time.

Image

Now let us discuss taste and service. The bartenders are bartenders in the true sense of the word. They understand flavors and know their product well. They make thoughtful recommendations based on your preferences, from the extensive beer list to the colorful cocktail menu.  They do not stir up a concoction and add a leaf to it, asking you to choke it down. Rather, they slowly mix ingredients with love, strain any pulp from the fruit, taste each glass they produce, before handing it to you with a smile. This much love in each cup does take a little time, so your patience is appreciated, but you will not be disappointed. Be sure to ask for Desiree; she was not only talented but also pleasant.

Image
Cham- Wow

Cham- Wow! That was the drink of the hour. It is a mixture of fresh raspberries, citrus, Ketel One and sparkling wine, served in a flute. Again, anyone can mix these ingredients, but remember, the care used at The Corner makes the difference. Watching the preparation is half the fun. The freshness and passion are evident. What blew me away, was that the bartender would triple strain and double taste, until the drink was perfect. Of course, she did so in a sanitary manner. But treating the cocktail so well, turned the bartender into a chef, which is why I was inspired. I enjoyed it so, that I was compelled to order another, but at each occasion, I did not remember to photograph it, before bringing it to my lips. I am sorry but the anticipation was killing me. However, I am sure you will have an idea of the Cham- Wow from the photo provided.

From a cost perspective, the drinks were reasonably priced, considering the taste and care, but I would have paid more if they had asked, in light of my satisfaction. Again, the downside is the wait time required before enjoying each drink; but as I converted the bartender, consider that we wait for gourmet foods, why not also wait a bit for gourmet drinks?

Kris