Wednesday, February 29, 2012


I should not be allowed to keep my Livingsocial or Groupon accounts. Not because I buy too many coupons, but because I buy too many coupons and forget to redeem them until they expire. I'm trying to break myself of that habit now, because as this post on my main blog describes, my time in this town is limited and running out fast. Dapur is located just up the street from where I am now, walking distance away. I had little excuse not to go, if I even wanted to make one up.

Dapur is located in the corner of a small strip mall, and I got the impression that it was a cramped, tiny place. Not surprising for a small plate concept. But the building turned out to be much more spacious than I thought. Far from being crowded, the staff could actually get away with putting in more tables. I still imagine the kitchen to be tiny.

The hostess was friendly and bubbly, complimenting my old blouse as I walked in the door. I don't know if this says more about my fashion sense or her skills of sugarcoating, but I found my way to the bar area and found a seat. Again, this side of the establishment looked almost barren, even with the couches and tall tables surrounding the bar. At the back of the room was a large wooden door and a skinny strip of stage, as if set up for some kind of shows, but nothing happened.

The server was friendly and attentive despite there already being a handful of guests seated there. The couple sitting next to me had already gone through two or three plates. I needed a minute to look through the menus, full of unfamiliar and interesting things.

I first decided on a coconut caipiroska, and had a hard time pronouncing that order to the bartender. It was a mix of coconut vodka, lime juice, and cane syrup. I probably still can't be trusted to say it properly, but the drink was tasty.

More time was needed to look through food orders, but my eyes kept settling on the miso cod. For some reason I expected the serving to be bigger, but hey. I was in a tapas restaurant.

I had a slip of the tongue and ordered miso salmon instead. By now I was sure I had made a fool of myself. Though the little bit of cod was delicious, I think I liked the miso-honey sauce best. Unfortunately, chopsticks are not suited for scooping bits of sauce off of a plate.

This was also my first time trying baby ginger. I'm a big fan of ginger and have been known to eat the pickled ginger straight from a serving of sushi. Pickled baby ginger has a similar flavor, but somewhat brighter.

Not done with my miso fix yet, I ordered a bowl of miso soup. There was nothing extraordinary about it, just a good bowl of soup. I then realized how long it'd been since I had some, and made a note in my mind to find out how to make some at home.

I had to pay sales tax according to the terms of my Groupon, which was fine. I did get a chuckle out of the fact that the bartender put me down as GIRL in the POS system. I'm not sure why it was funny then. Maybe the caipiroska got to me.

Bartender got a $5 tip. I'd recommend going back for lunch, but unless you have money to burn (as I usually don't) or order from the large plate menu, the food you would get is unsatisfying for dinner.

Dapur on Urbanspoon

Monday, February 27, 2012


It's about time I was able to give someone a glowing review.

I've been looking for a certain kind of restaurant for a while: a small place that specializes in burgers, going beyond the typical fast food fare without feeling the need to diversify, and playing classic rock in the background. Rok:Brgr comes so close to this.

The staff was amazingly friendly before I even walked in the door. It almost caught me off guard because as you can see from my previous posts, that's almost a rarity in this town.

It was lunchtime on a Saturday. I had plenty of time to grab a bite for lunch before heading off to work myself. There were already a good number of people eating, but there was plenty of space at the bar. One bartender was on duty, and she had a good enough handle on things to give us few prompt attention.

Rok:Brgr has a large food menu and a smaller drink menu, both leather bound and printed to resemble something out of the old west. They specialize in bourbon and beers, but along the back wall of the bar is an extensive display of vodkas, rums, and tequilas. One drink in particular caught my eye, which was listed first and included bacon-infused bourbon. I didn't try it, though. Perhaps another time.

I started with an order of rum and coke. I usually don't drink before I go to work, but considering I had a good three hours to walk around a burn it off with a full meal in my stomach, I decided it wouldn't hurt. The drink turned out to be small anyway:

This is where I decided that, once and for all, I prefer a darker rum in this drink. But that's not the bartender's fault.

Flipping through the food menu, my eyes settled almost immediately on the Black & Bleu burger: bleu cheese crumbles, bacon, and caramelized onions on a 10oz hamburger patty. All of my favorite things to put on a burger. I ordered it without hesitation, and it looked as fantastic as it sounded:

It took me a minute or two to figure out just how I would get a bit out of this thing, which was just too tall for my mouth. I imagine I looked quite silly then. But once I did, the burger was worth it. It was easily one of the best burgers I ever had, and it didn't last for very long. Some of the blue cheese softened up in the process, falling out with some caramelized onions and mixing together on the place. That was probably the best part.

Not bad for a lunch. My burger was one of the more expensive on the menu, to be fair. Many of the others were around 10 dollars. They're a little pricey, but worth it. The bubbly bartender definitely got her 20% tip, and I'll be going back at least to try that bacon bourbon drink.

Rok: Brgr on Urbanspoon

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Cheesecake Factory - Las Olas

I'm breaking one of my own rules as I write this. When I started this blog, I set two simple rules for myself:

-No reviews on chain restaurants.
-No reviews on places where I work or have worked in the past.

The first rule was to encourage me to look for places outside of my comfort zone and that chains tend to be the same across the country. The second was to avoid obvious conflicts of interest. I'm breaking rule #1 today because this was a somewhat different experience for me, and as I've been neglecting this blog, this is as good an entry as any.

My family and I had lunch at The Cheesecake Factory on Las Olas Blvd. I've been to this particular location a couple of times before for dinner, but with a small group of friends. This time, I had with me both parents and two younger brothers, ages 11 and 13.

As a group of 5, we usually have to wait a long time to get a table at any restaurant, but this time we were seated in about two minutes. I thought that this would be a good sign.

We had plenty of time to look around and admire the interior. There's a definite Mediterranean motif that I've grown used to, but looks different in the bright light of day than it does during the dinner hours. Unfortunately, the fact that we had so much time to admire our surroundings says something about our service.

To be fair, it was a very busy hour for the restaurant and almost every table was full. That's the only concession that I will give to our waiter. While he didn't completely forget about our table how busy his section was, he was withdrawn and almost mumbling the entire time he served us, and couldn't even be bothered to crack a smile. I got a strong impression that he didn't want to be working today, which could be true but is not something that you want the guests to know.

This waiter seemed to be much more attentive to the table of two attractive women across the aisle from us, while forgetting to bring us bread and butter at the start. Again, this is another weakness that you don't want to show to your guests. If you let the big family of five catch you flirting with the cute girls nearby while otherwise showing little personality, at the very least you’re going to miss out on a bigger tip.

Our food also took a long time to come out of the kitchen, but I’m not going to complain about that. Considering how busy the place was today, the cooks in the back were no doubt swimming in orders and going as fast as they could. In a rush like that, nobody is slacking off.

I ordered the bleu cheese BLT burger, cooked medium. I liked it, but I’ll confess that it wasn’t the best burger I’ve ever had. It had very little bleu cheese crumbles on it and an exceptional amount of grease. Even with the beef and bacon, some of that grease could have at least been drained off. One of my brothers ordered a pulled pork sandwich, from which I stole a bite. I should’ve ordered that instead: the sandwich was made up of big chunks of pork instead of the usual shredded variety, with a good amount of sauce without it drowning.

For dessert, I shared the Limoncello cream torte with my mother. We got a HUGE slice of cake with macerated strawberries and whipped cream. Despite the size, it was light enough for us both to finish even though we already had plenty to eat. My favorite was the mascarpone cream filling: it wasn’t too sweet and it tasted more like a dense whipped cream. If I had just a bowl of that for dessert, I would’ve been happy.

In the end, our waiter was given a tip of less than 10%, because his general lack of personality was so off-putting. A smile goes a long way, folks!

The Cheesecake Factory on Urbanspoon