Phat & Happy
Phat Boy Sushi & Kitchen, 4391 N. Federal Highway, Oakland Park, phatboysushi.com
It doesn’t seem like that long ago that Fort Lauderdale was a sushi ghost town. Those days are gone though, and now the northeast side of town has a new spot for modern Japanese dining with pan-Asian influences. The menu features all the popular sushi, sashimi and rolls, as well as some creative kitchen concoctions. Bold diners ordering up different kinds of sushi will also be rewarded by flavors not always found in town – not everybody does quail egg, for example, or sea urchin. The menu takes in flavors from across Asia, with Vietnamese, Korean and other dishes complementing the Japanese styles. Interesting dishes include Japanese black pork sausage, Manila clam soup, galbee Korean-style barbecue and conch‑and‑octopus sunomono. A lunch menu offers quick, healthy Japanese options. The modern interior includes a few fun Japanese flourishes. And there’s a sushi bar and open kitchen so you can check out the action, which in a sushi restaurant is always part of the fun.
Chicken Crosses Federal
Spring Chicken, 2400 North Federal Highway, eatspringchicken.com
Down-home Southern cooking has got all gussied up in recent years, and Spring Chicken is bringing traditional flavors done new ways to Fort Lauderdale. The new Federal Highway restaurant’s menu includes dishes like the Yardbird (marinated chicken thigh sandwich with house butter pickles), the Backyard BBQ (crispy or grilled chicken breast with pickles, onion strings and homemade coleslaw and barbecue sauce), Mama’s Biscuits and Lewellyn’s Famous Blue Plate Specials. (Lewellyn was the grandmother of restaurant founder John Kunkel; her recipes are said to be the driving force in the kitchen.) The restaurant is owned by the people behind Yardbird Southern Table and Bar, the South Beach restaurant that’s at the forefront of the Southern-food-all-fancied-up trend. The Federal Highway location will be Spring Chicken’s second, after Coral Gables. More are planned. The décor mixes folksy ambience with industrial cool – there might be a few mason jars around, but this isn’t Cracker Barrel. All together, it makes for a meal that offers a bit of the new alongside some flavors that have stood the test of time.
Return of the Mac
I Heart Mac & Cheese, 1489 SE 17th St. Suite A, iheartmacandcheese.com
Mac and cheese. For generations, one of those comfort foods, made up in a big bowl with noodles, melted yellow cheese and some of Mom’s home cooked Maine lobster. Okay, so maybe that’s not everybody’s idea of mac and cheese. But a new place specializing in the, um, classic dish wants to change your thinking on its possibilities. The concept is simple. You start with your basic mac and cheese, which comes in at at $3.95, and you build. For a buck each they’ve got more than a dozen cheeses, and 50 cents each gets you “add ins” ranging from artichokes to caramelized onions to scallions. “Proteins” are more expensive (particularly if you want your mac and cheese with Maine lobster.) And if all that sounds like too much thinking, you can eschew build-your-own for the regular menu, which includes dishes such as Chef Michael’s Famous Lobster Mac. That’s lobster, Muenster and Gruyere cheeses, scallions, a sauce of the chef’s devising and – lest you think this is all getting too fancy – goldfish. Yeah, as in the little fish-shaped crackers. Other dishes include the Cuban Sandwich, Philly Cheese Steak and Bacon Cheeseburger. In all cases, the main ingredients from those dishes get chucked into the mac and cheese. Oh, and unlike when Mom made mac and cheese, here they’ll serve you a nice craft beer with it.