Executive Lifestyles - Dining & Spirits
Unlike so many fashion foods, barbecue is here to stay — and, thankfully, expanding.
SMOKIN': Darden Restaurants launched Smokey Bones in 1999. Nineteen of the chain's 110 restaurants are in Florida.
The prices are right: BBQ platters, including smoked beef brisket, turkey breast, barbecue chicken and pulled pork smoked up to a dozen hours and pulled by hand, are $8.99 to $10.49; ribs, smoked St. Louis style and baby backs, are $11.29 and $13.49 for half racks and $15.99 to $18.49 for the full. Barbecue chicken with fresh citrus and herb vinaigrette or Balsamic vinaigrette, cilantro, cucumber salsa, sunflower seeds and dried cranberries or with grilled shrimp -- accompanied by grilled flatbread -- is $9.99 to $12.29. The honey-glazed North Atlantic salmon with grilled flatbread is $13.49, while the beer-battered fish platter goes for $6.49. Soup and sandwich combos are $8.49, and there are five salads, $4.69 to $8.69. Lunch sandwiches with grilled chicken, smoked beef brisket or smoked turkey, served hot with Swiss cheese and rosemary-spiked mayo, are $6.69 to $7.69. Angus and buffalo burgers are $6.69 and $8.69.
Then there's the top of the tariffs steak selection, USDA Choice top sirloin and New York strip, $12.49 to $15.29, which come with a choice of two sides -- in the best barbecue tradition -- cinnamon-spiked sliced apples, barbecue baked beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, creamy cole slaw and fresh steamed broccoli. For another 99 cents you can order fresh steamed asparagus and corn on the cob in season. Broccoli and steamed asparagus -- in a barbecue!
Park Avenue BBQ & Grille
4796 Congress Ave.
969 SE 5th Ave.
2401 N. Dixie Highway
525 U.S. 1
North Palm Beach
769 N. Federal Highway
236 U.S. 1 (dba Rib King)
13897 Wellington Trace
2215 Palm Beach Lakes Blvd. (dba Rib King)
West Palm Beach
Another chain whose popularity has meant a steady expansion is south Florida's Park Avenue BBQ & Grille. Considerably more modest in scope than Smokey Bones with an active take-out business. Barbecue dinners range from $4.99 for a quarter barbecue chicken to $16.99 for a full rack of baby back ribs and $14.49 for a full rack of St. Louis ribs. Half racks are $9.99 and $8.99. A 12-ounce New York strip is $15.99. There are also seafood selections, a cod platter for $6.99, sea scallops for $8.99 and a combo platter for $12.99. There's a choice of two sides and a choice of eight sites.
625 E. Las Olas Blvd.
Then there's "The New Q," a novel and nouvelle approach to the saucing and stimulation of good ol' 'cue, introduced of late by Johnny Vinczencz, that master of innovation who stormed on the south Florida scene a few years. He now has his own digs in Fort Lauderdale, Johnny V, one of this year's Golden Spoon Top Newcomers.
"The New Q" calls for such starters as skillet-seared barbecued super jumbo shrimp with chipotle cocktail sauce ($15) and leg of duck confit cakes with mango cole slaw ($10). For the main event, barbecue glazed fresh salmon with apple caramelized onion chutney ($23), ancho cinnamon grilled pork tenderloin with sweet potato hash and papaya-mango sauce ($25) and barbecue-spiked filet mignon with fire-grilled tomato ($32).
Finding the right wine to go with good ol' 'cue is a challenge for some but not for grape nut Johnny V, owner of his eponymous place in Fort Lauderdale. He has a list of some 600 choices selected by ace sommelier Steffen Rau. With all the flavors, tastes and textures Johnny dreams up in the kitchen, serious attention should be paid to the possible pairings.
With all the strong flavors of barbecue, with vinegar usually lurking somewhere among the tomatoes, chilis and mustard, a red is required. Not a cerebral Bordeaux or something noteworthy from Burgundy but a far less complex bottle, what Smokey Bones has on its list -- an Australian Yellow Tail Shiraz for $4.95 a glass, Robert Mondavi's Woodbridge Merlot ($5.25), Beringer Estate Cabernet Sauvignon ($5.95) or the Sterling Vintner's Collection Merlot for a dollar more.