Sun Sentinel: Review: Grille 66 & Bar in Fort Lauderdale
First impression: Now that the winter tourist season is over, it's time to reclaim some of our best restaurants. And what a beauty we have in Grille 66, where chef Michael Siegel's all-American menu runs from raw bar, to prime steak and on to innovative seafood.
Background: First opened in 2003, Grille 66 became an independent restaurant in 2005. Before then, "there was definitely a clash of cultures," explains Robert Mayo, director of operations. "The hotel would never let us use the kind of products we use. One of the biggest problems we had was they didn't want us to buy prime meat. They didn't want us to buy colossal crab meat."
Ambience: If you need reminding that Fort Lauderdale is one of the country's largest yachting centers, take a look at the gorgeous mega yachts outside the wall of windows that look on to the Intracoastal. Even the 225-seat dining room feels like a well appointed yacht — lots of wood and glass — where you take a few steps down to tables and booths set with white tablecloths. There are another 100 seats outside.
IF YOU GO
- Hyatt Regency Pier Sixty-Six, 2301 SE 17th St. Causeway, Fort Lauderdale
- Cuisine: American steakhouse
- Cost: expensive
- Hours: dinner nightly (closed Sundays until Oct. 23)
- Reservations: suggested, required in season
- Credit cards: all major
- Bar: full service
- Sound level: quiet
- Outside smoking: yes
- For kids: high chairs, boosters, menu items on request
- Wheelchair accessible: yes
Oysters Rockefeller ($18) were a special one night and what a delight to see a modern chef not overload the oysters with too much "stuff." In this version, the lightly baked, fresh oysters speak for themselves with just a little bit of spinach, While the gorgonzola vinaigrette in the signature salad ($12) was a little too acidic, the combination of chopped iceberg, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, bacon and pecans was delightful. There's a raw bar section with colossal lump crabmeat ($16) and Maine lobster cocktail ($22) and be sure to check out Siegel's refreshing tuna tartar with Asian vinaigrette and wasabi crème fraîche ($16). If you like fried shrimp and calamari, you don't have to choose between the two, with crispy shrimp and calamari with spicy hot chile sauce ($16).
Entree excellence: USDA
Prime beef is aged 28 days and served at spot-on temperature. The 8-ounce barrel cut filet mignon ($35) is the restaurant's most popular cut, but there's also a 24-ounce porterhouse ($46) and 22-ounce bone-in rib eye ($45), among others. I had classic steak frites ($32) — a perfect 14-ounce aged New York strip topped with a compound butter and accompanied by a huge mound of crisp parmesan fries. Among the chef's seafood specialties: macadamia nut crusted Chilean sea bass ($38), grilled Irish organic salmon ($32) and linguine with lobster and Gulf shrimp Fra Diavolo ($38). Lamb chops ($38) were a special one night and these were some of the most tender I've ever been served. They came with some of the four-cheese truffle mac that's offered as a side as well as asparagus and a cipollini onion and mushroom ragout.
The baked potato ($8) is topped with Vermont butter, apple wood smoked bacon bits and chive sour cream. All other sides are $10 or $6 as half orders and include creamed spinach, jumbo asparagus Hollandaise, potatoes au gratin and broccoli rabe with garlic and oil.
Along with a nicely tart Key lime pie with fresh cream ($9), check out the moist carrot cake with pineapple rum coulis ($12). Chocolate offerings include three-layer chocolate cake with raspberry sauce ($12) and a homemade chocolate chip cookies and biscotti platter ($10).
Outstanding. No wonder most of the staff has been at Grille 66 since opening day. Even the hostess was a delight.
Happy hour, 5-7 p.m. daily, features two-for-one drinks and a half price bar menu.
The moderately priced wine list also includes lots of by-the-glass and half-bottle selections.
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