July 31, 2014

Dining with Tolf

Meat Market

Florida stakes its claim as a hotbed of fine steakhouses.

Robert W. Tolf | 2/1/2005
Red meat cravings are still the craze in this country, and there's no end in sight to the army of steakhouses catering to the demand for beef, beef, beef. Florida and the South Atlantic states consume close to a fifth of the national total -- more than a fifth of the steaks -- and they're served in a great variety of settings. Chains and collections of all sizes and substance, from the top-of-the-line Ruth's Chris and Morton's to such sport celebrateurs as Shula's and sword-swirling Samurais down to the straightforward, budget-stretching Golden Corral. Then there's the one and only Bern's Steak House. It set the standards, the highest of standards, for constant care and control, establishing wine as a vital accompaniment. It's still on the summit, but there is definitely life after Bern's.
Barrymore's / Jupiter
4050 S. U.S. 1 (Bluffs Square)
561/625-3757
Management at the recently shuttered and short-lived Angelo & Maxie's Steakhouse at CityPlace should have studied this simple but solid little success, so pleasantly served and efficiently run, with a fine inventory of prime steaks and chops, ranging from $22 for a small cut of prime rib to $60 for 10 ounces of filet mignon and South African lobster tail surf and turf combination. Dinner served nightly.

The Capital Grille /
Fort Lauderdale
2430 E. Sunrise Blvd. (Galleria Mall)
954/446-2000
444 Brickell Ave. / Miami
305/374-4500
Blasting off last fall after its success in Miami, and 18 other locations from Boston to Phoenix, the Fort Lauderdale link in the highly regarded assemblage of sophisticated steak servers approaches perfection -- in the remarkable service, the selection and execution of the menu, the stocking of superb wines (you can have your own cabinet for storage) and the plushness of the setting.

Fifth Avenue Grill /
Delray Beach
821 Federal Hwy. 561/265-0122
The menu boasts they are "Serving the Finest Aged Steaks," and I found little to quibble about after several visits, but then the same team that put the nearby Banana Boat on the map and then Old Calypso obviously knows how to succeed in business by really trying, motivating managers and keeping a talented, smiling staff, stocking an excellent cellar and using Chicago's Stock Yards Packing as source for the nine steaks on their menu, $19.95 to $36.95, served daily noon and night.

Harrison's Steakhouse / Miami Beach
411 Washington Ave. 305/672-4600
In a space previously occupied by the French and before them the Russians, chef Will Biscoe of Bobby Van's Steakhouse in Washington, D.C., has opened our newest beef-feeder with Kobe beef on the menu along with the usual steakhouse offerings ranging from $37 for double-cut lamb chops to $42 for porterhouses. Ninety dollars buys the 10-ounce Kobe filet.

Mario's Tuscan Grill / Boca Raton
1450 N. Federal Hwy.561/362-7407
Accurately reading the pulse of its public, this Tuscan triumph added prime steaks and chops to its menu, importing the filet mignons and New York strip steaks, $32 to $40, from Allen Brothers in Chicago.

Porter's Steakhouse / Boca Raton
2000 N.W. 19th St. (Renaissance Boca Raton Hotel) 561/368-5252
A bistro-style afterthought off the lobby with a good selection of steaks and chops, $23 to $29, including a "Signature Marinated Tenderloin of Beef Rubbed with Peppercorn, Rock Salt and Bay Leaves" and labeled "World Famous" on the menu cover. That's a bit of a stretch.

Smith & Wollensky / Miami Beach
1 Washington Ave.305/673-2800
Florida's very own spinoff from the famous steakhouse of the same name in New York and featuring the same kind of caring, professional service pleasing the steak-loving, steak-knowledgeable crowds, using the same kind of care as Bern's in the selection, cutting and aging of prime meats, offering a superb selection of wines. Lunch and dinner are served daily, with entrees in the $25-to-$38 range.

Texas De Brazil / Orlando
5259 International Drive 407/355-0355
Dolphin Mall / Miami
11401 N.W. 12th St.305/599-7729
A pair of authentic Brazilian churrascaria steakhouses featuring a non-stop parade of gauchos delivering specially seasoned skewered meats fresh from the open-air flaming behind a knockout 40-item salad bar with roasted veggies and other sides, all in a white tablecloth setting in super-sized rooms. It started in Addison, Texas, and spread to Dallas and Fort Worth and then to Memphis, Aruba and Florida. Lunch -- only at the Miami location -- is served Monday through Friday. Dinner, with prices starting at $38.50, is served nightly. Weekend brunch is the same price, and salad bar alone is $20.

Tags: Dining & Travel, Around Florida

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