Dried blossoms lean against crystal vases on white tablecloths; ornate chandeliers bathe the high-ceilinged hall in an amber glow; and scents of fenugreek, cumin, and other spices from northern and southern Indian recipes waft from Madras Exotic Indian Cuisine kitchen. The cooking staff bakes tandoori chicken, lamb, and vegetables in an authentic clay tandoor oven, and trains vegetables to assume formations atop flavored basmati-rice platters in the biryani tradition. Chefs also prepare meals to halal standards, and craft additional culinary fusions with Desi Chinese dishes. The culinary crew can pair mains with an array of sides such as six varieties of fresh-baked naan and other breads, and serve desserts in brass, footed vessels for a more delicious finale than samosa-shaped fireworks. Chefs lay out a wider range of their creations at Sunday buffets, when heated chrome containers perched atop linen-draped tables hold steaming meats, seafood, and vegetarian stews.
You can't get a sandwich in under 60 seconds at Munch & Chat. That's because the staff want their café to be the opposite of fast food, both in the healthiness of their dishes and the mentality of guests walking through the doors. They don't prepare anything before it's ordered, ensuring that each handmade prosciutto and mozzarella sandwich, lamb burger, and chicken empanada is fresh and flavorful. While they toss salads with tuna, black olives, and green peppers or blend up lattes, they encourage guests to take a seat, enjoy the company of others, and browse the pastry selection. The bakers craft both American sweets—such as sugar-free cheesecake and bald eagles made out of fondant—as well as Argentinean specialties such as passionfruit mousse and milhojas, a puff pastry filled with dulce de leche.
To the chefs at Isabella's Italian Restaurant, clasic Italian cuisine is perfect just the way it is. So the culinary team sticks to a mostly traditional lineup of Italian eats, from chicken marsala to veal piccata. On the seafood front, lobster sauce coats crabmeat-stuffed ravioli, while shrimp, scallops, mussels, and clams join squid-ink linguini coated in far diavolo sauce. For vegetarians, meanwhile, Isabella's extensive menu sports everything from caprese salads with grilled eggplant to pastas filled with cheese, pears, and creamy truffle sauce. Beer and house wine complement in-house feasts, though Isabella's also happily delivers any day of the week.
The culinary crafters at French Quarter Bar & Grill curtail spells of hunger with a menu of New Orleans cuisine derived from Cajun and French influences. Open a festival of flavor with an appetizer of flame-grilled black-and-blue oysters, which are sprinkled with a Cajun seasoning and crumbled blue cheese ($9.95), while sipping a tasty libation, such as an Argentinean malbec ($6). Entree options range from the spicy shrimp creole ($14.95) to the lightly breaded, thin-cut fried catfish ($13.95). The Canal Street burger ($9.95), fused with Cajun and barbecue seasoning, corn salsa, a pair of bacon slices, melted cheddar, and a duo of onion rings suitable to be worn on a thick or gloved finger, can be augmented with a plaudit-worthy Kendall Jackson chardonnay ($10).
In 1993, the basement of a Minneapolis apartment building was transformed into an Italian restaurant, becoming the first Buca di Beppo. The owners soon found themselves riding a wave of popularity and marinara sauce as they opened new restaurants across the nation. Today, the eatery occupies 97 locations nationwide, from San Francisco to Times Square.
At each location, chefs maintain the northern and southern Italian flavors that made the original so popular, with a few American twists. Then they serve it up in massive, family-style portions, making Buca di Beppo a favorite place for hungry families and groups of friends.
For starters, the chefs bake up batches of Cheesy Bread Florentine, a colorful combo of spinach, roma tomatoes, and garlic sprinkled over Italian bread and sealed in place with fresh, melted cheeses. Entr?es are prepared with an eye toward quality and quantity, both of size and selection, complete with Veal Parmigiana, Baked Ziti, and classic Italian-American staples like Ravioli and Lasagna. And in keeping with the convivial atmosphere, they also serve truly decadent desserts. The Mt. Vesuvius Dark Chocolate Cake erupts with melted chocolate, and the Colossal Brownie Sundae towers above other sweets with six scoops of ice cream and tiers of sundae trimmings.
There are many words you could use to describe Checkers Old Munchen?"warm," "welcoming," and "boisterous" come to mind?but "quiet" certainly isn't one of them. The lively German watering hole resounds with oom-pah tunes and friendly chatter from open to close. Diners sit at weathered wooden tables, clinking massive boot-shaped steins and sharing plates of schnitzel. Cheerful servers command the full length of the bar, doling out pours from a selection of more than 30 German beers?from crisp pilsners to sweet hefeweizens to malty bocks.
In the kitchen, plump bratwurst sausages sizzle in pans, pots of goulash bubble on the stove, and hissing kettles whisper German fairy tales. It's in this bustling space that chef Andre Zanith whips up traditional German dishes lauded as brilliant recreations by the Broward Palm Beach New Times. Zanith's favorite dish on the menu is the wiener schnitzel?a tender veal cutlet sauteed in creamy lemon butter and topped with homemade gravy. Traditional sides include red cabbage, potato dumplings, and spaetzel noodles.