If you have curry-infused dreams like I do then you should head over to Marcus Samuelsson’s blog and check out my post and recipe for this paneer curry with peas, cauliflower and tomato-chili sauce!

I’m also going to do something I don’t normally do here, which is restaurant reviews.  I thought it might be helpful to anyone thinking of traveling to the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood area if I talked about the places we ate while there…the good, the bad, and the gag-reflex-inducing.

The Broadwalk – Simply put, I hated the food on The Broadwalk (and no, I’m not spelling it wrong. That’s what they called it.)  It was basically a summation of everything that I believe is wrong with the way most of America eats.  Almost everything was fried and if it wasn’t, it came with a fried side dish.  There was nary a vegetarian option in sight other than a salad that consisted of lettuce, tomato, and nothing else, and the few vegetable side dishes that were on the menu…were smothered in butter.  And it’s not like this was limited to one “restaurant” (I use the term loosely) along the strip.  We ate at a different one for lunch almost every day and they were all the same.  Now, just to be fair, The.Boy. was not as unhappy with The Broadwalk food as I was, so I really think it just comes down to the fact that I am picky.  I cook really good, inventive vegetarian food every day and it baffles me when someone who does this for a living can’t come close to what I can make in my own home.  To someone who is looking to eat a burger and fries every day for seven days straight…The Broadwalk is perfect for you.  I’m just not that person.

Sardelli’s – Sardelli’s is, literally, one of those hidden gems that you stumble upon almost by accident (there wasn’t even a sign on the door! We had to ask the valet where the entrance was.)  It’s an Italian restaurant/steakhouse that has a homey yet elegant feel to it.  To start, the chef sent out a potato soup on the house that was to-die for. There was a hint of truffle in it and it was creamy and utterly amazing.  The.Boy. had the pasta bolognese, which was made with homemade pappardelle.  I’m pretty sure he was in heaven.  I had the butternut squash agnolotti (also homemade) in a sage brown butter sauce.  Just what I was craving.  The real kicker, though, was dessert.  The.Boy. got this totally luscious mini apple pie that was basically a dream while I got creme brulee with a layer of chocolate truffle on the bottom.  This was by far our favorite meal of the vacation.

Lola’s On Harrison – Lola’s was my fine dining restaurant pick of the vacation.  Located in Downtown Hollywood, it was a great start to a night that was full of karaoke and Olympic-watching.  The.Boy. ordered a steak while I got the herb crusted salmon which came with a wheatberry cucumber tomato salad (yes, I still eat fish on RARE occasions. Mostly salmon and sushi.  The few times I’ve eaten other types of fish I realize that actually, I don’t like fish that much.  If we’re being honest…I mostly got it because I wanted that salad.  Worth it.)  We split a dessert of chocolate truffle cake that was totally delicious.  It came with an espresso-infused ice cream that The.Boy. was none too pleased with given his disdain for all things coffee but even he conceded that it was tasty.

Red Thai Sushi – The.Boy. had never had sushi and since it is such a love of mine, I felt compelled to sit him down and force feed it to him at least once during our vacation.  By which I mean, he saw that I was in such a bad mood about The Broadwalk food that he would eat anything to make me happy.  Even raw fish.  This was one of the best rated restaurants in Hollywood according to Yelp and I was really pleased with it.  They gave you a lot of sushi for your money (at least compared to NYC) and everything was quite tasty.  Even The.Boy. agreed.

Pachamamma – Don’t even get me started on the awfulness of this place.  Oh yes, this is the Peruvian restaurant of twitter fame.  The one with the waitress who refused to switch in veggies for steak in one of the dishes and instead offered to serve me just the sides that came with the dish but for the FULL PRICE. Uh, yeah.  No.  She also brought us water bottles instead of tap water without asking us which we wanted.  And charged us for it.  Needless to say, she did not get a very high tip and I left her a note giving her a piece of my mind and letting her know that I was a food writer and would be writing about my experience.  Don’t go here under any circumstances.

Sugar Reef – This was the only Broadwalk option that was tolerable. It was only open at night and served a mix of Thai/French/American fusion food.  The.Boy. got a grilled salmon with mango salsa that he raved about and I got a green fish curry that was way too fishy for my palate.  I ended up gifting almost all the seafood in it to The.Boy. and ate the vermicelli and spinach that were in it.  I think, though, that a person who likes fish would have actually enjoyed it.

Chocolada – Though Chocolada has a full menu, it is most widely known for it’s bakery.  We got dessert here after eating at the sushi place and really loved their pastries.  It reminded me of pastry shops on Arthur Avenue in the Bronx or in Little Italy.  Delicious.

Il Mercato Cafe – This restaurant was a little bit off the beaten trail in that it’s in Hallandale and not Hollywood and is located in one of the shopping centers on N Hallandale Beach Blvd.  Though this wasn’t our favorite meal of the vacation, it was up there. I had homemade artichoke ravioli that was served in a creamy sauce that somehow wasn’t cloying or overly heavy.  The.Boy. had lamb chops served over polenta and roasted veggies.  He really enjoyed the dish although he felt that they were a bit stingy on the meat.  We shared a gelato sundae for dessert that was revelatory.

Josh’s Organic Garden – Josh’s Organic Garden is Hollywood’s farmer’s market! It was located literally right outside of our hotel so we went bright and early on Sunday morning, the only day of the week it was open, and stocked up on fruit and some veggies.  We got a pineapple, mangoes, strawberries, peaches, plums…all of which we then used to make smoothies every day of the week!  They were delicious and so refreshing in the Florida heat.

I think that just about sums up my Hollywood, Florida food experience.  Although I did a lot of complaining about the lack of veggies, I was mainly only dissatisfied with The Broadwalk.  We really did eat some delicious meals while there! 

You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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44 Responses to Paneer with Peas, Cauliflower and Tomato-Chili Sauce

  1. Beth says:

    I love reading restaurant reviews, and yours were honest and informative. Now I’m dying to visit Miami, if only to eat at Sardelli’s.

  2. Simply Life says:

    I just found paneer in a local grocery store and yes, have actually been dreaming about it 🙂

    I think you should also do a review for NYC restaurants – we never know where to go when we’re in the city and always seem to end up at “okay” places, knowing the hidden gems are lurking steps away!

  3. Sounds like you had some wonderful meals in FL!!! I always enjoy reading restaurant reviews. And I can’t believe The.Boy. hadn’t had sushi until this trip!

  4. Um, after some of those meals I probably would have decided to live on ice cream… but glad to see there were a few restaurants that redeemed south florida!

  5. Whoa! Look at all of these places. We head down to Ft Lauderdale from time to time to visit my grandparents. I will definitely keep these (good) places in mind. 😉

  6. Eliana says:

    Thanks for the restaurant suggestions. My husband has family in the area so will have to check them out the next time we are there.

  7. Barbara says:

    The “boardwalk” in Ft. Lauderdale sucks. Food is horrible and junky. The only thing worth while seeing is the Elbow Room as it has become a FTL icon. I remember it back in the 50’s. My parents lived there, and I lived there for a time, my daughter was born there.
    You missed the best place: in Pompano Beach, Cafe Maxx. Well worth the drive and one of the best restaurants in S. Florida.

  8. daphne says:

    thanks for the tip! We are heading to NYC and Hollywood in oct so that is very useful!

  9. Lynn says:

    Yum – this looks so good! I have never been to that part of FL, but if I ever go….now I know where or not to eat.

  10. Amy says:

    I have no plans to go to Florida. Ever, really. BUT if I do, I’ll know where to go…and NOT to eat! Paul had never had sushi when I first met him, either. Now he loves it. We are so here to bring these boys out of their shells, no?

  11. bellini says:

    I do enjoy a good paneer dish!!

  12. Elizabeth says:

    I looove paneer. My mom was just saying once it cools down a bit she wants to make curried cauliflower and peas.

  13. Natalie says:

    I don’t think I’ll ever be going there but I still loved reading your restaurant reviews! I hate when places think a lettuce-only salad is a sufficient vegetarian option, and offering only the sides for full price is horrible! Your meals at Sardelli’s sound amazing though!

  14. Next time we go to Ft Lauderdale we’ll have to check out some of these places. And avoid a few 🙂 Enjoyed the reviews. You should do more! The paneer looks delicious, new to me!

  15. yes the paneer looks fabulous
    i’m not a florida girl, the humidity kills me–i love dry heat
    but glad you got away for a bit; i need a vaca so badly

  16. I enjoy reading bloggers restaurant reviews. I try to do as many as I can, but for me they are much harder than writing about food I’ve cooked. Practice..practice…practice. 🙂 I’m a cauliflower freak, so will be heading over to take a look at this recipe. Great photo as always Joanne.

  17. That paneer dish looks impressive! I totally understand how you feel about vegetarian food at restaurants. I’m not even a vegetarian (my boyfriend is), but I’m often offended FOR him by some of the food “chefs” offer at their restaurants…

  18. geni says:

    The paneer looks wonderful. I love your restaurant reviews and if I ever get to that part of Florida, I will give definitely utilize them since I trust your foodie tastes implicitly.

  19. Mmm I love Paneer… so good! I’ll check out the recipe for sure 🙂 Also I loved the honesty in your reviews. I am always so hesitant to say anything remotely negative, haha. Glad you had a fun and food-filled time!

  20. love2dine says:

    seriously incredible, i would love to have it right now.

  21. Eileen says:

    Everyone loves paneer–and this is obviously no exception! I don’t normally do restaurant reviews either, but they can be helpful, especially when traveling to such an apparently vegetarian-unfriendly area. I love the restaurants with no signs–they’re usually the best food in town! We have a great secret alleyway bar here in CA, and when we lived in Brooklyn, we’d go to the signless abistro in Ft Greene for fancy African fusion. Excellent!

  22. Goodness this is beautiful! Almost too pretty to eat.

  23. Ashley says:

    This looks outstanding!! Yummm

  24. Guru Uru says:

    I have a big weakness for paneer so this is calling to me 😀


  25. Pam says:

    Nothing drives me crazier then eating terrible food at a terrible restaurant with terrible service. I am so glad you found a few gems to make up for the Broadwalk and Pachamamma. Sardelli’s is SCREAMING my name. YUM.

  26. Blond Duck says:

    Do you know any good places in Tampa?

  27. Danielle says:

    We use to live near that area – Taverna Opa is an amazing Greek Restaurant in Hollywood. You would have loved it – I didn’t realize you were there.

  28. Why are there not more gelato sundaes in the world? That sounds like an incredible vacation treat!

  29. I can’t believe they wouldn’t sub veggies…wtf? Glad you had a good vacation otherwise! This dish looks amazing…going to check out the recipe now 🙂

  30. That Girl says:

    Sounds like a disappointing trip food-wise. I hope the rest of the trip made up for that!

  31. this dish sounds great joanne! i’ll go check it out 🙂

  32. Oh this looks so delicious! Hope the rest of your trip went well!

  33. Hotly Spiced says:

    Well, you’ve certainly had some experiences. Sadly, I think your experience of dining in this part of America is what foreigners believe American cuisine to be xx

  34. Christine says:

    This looks delicious! Bookmarked it since I like to try foods I’ve never had, like paneer, at least once. Glad you had a few good food experiences on your trip and seem to have recovered from the mysterious Blackhawk incident. Was the Broadwalk really touristy? That might explain the disappointing “food”. Oh, and did you use green or brown cardamon pods or doesn’t it matter?

  35. Monet says:

    Wonderful reviews. I have no doubt that your recommendations would lead me the right way. I will now know to avoid Broadway at all costs! And your paneer looks delicious. I wish I could have had it for dinner (instead of leftovers!) Thanks for sharing, my friend!

  36. Kari says:

    What a great set of mini reviews. Definitely some Steer Clears in that list! But it sounds like you found some great eats to balance it at – and you’re clearly making up for lost time now you’re home 🙂

  37. Dawn says:

    I bet I could make this with tofu. Pinned!

  38. Suzi says:

    Oh girl while you were there you should have checked out The Sublime. It is a vegan restaurant right there on Federal Highway in Lauderdale a short jaunt up from Hollywood. I have their cookbook and have posted a few recipes. Equal to Candle 79. This recipe looks wonderful, going over to check it out.

  39. I am sending this to my daughter-in-law…it is so near Hallandale and I visit quite often. Thank you….

  40. Foodycat says:

    He’s never had sushi? How did he manage that in New York in 2012?!

  41. Reeni says:

    You made smoothies? Did you tuck a blender into your suitcase? I can totally see you doing that!

  42. Let me say that you do good reviews. Don’t know who “The Boy” is, perhaps your son?
    Anyway, I enjoyed reading your interesting comments.

  43. […] One year ago…Tempeh Lo Mein with Bell Pepper, Edamame and Scallions, Paneer with Peas, Cauliflower and Tomato-Chili Sauce […]

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