Restaurant News & Reviews

Hotel restaurant caught serving ‘airline chicken’ as something else

Free range chickens.
Free range chickens.

The Fort Lauderdale Marriott’s Blue Fire Grille says you can trust their menu now. The food they’re serving matches the food on the menu, a basic expectation the restaurant didn’t meet during a state inspection when the inspector caught “ice glazed airline chicken breast” costumed as “free range chicken.”

Despite Blue Fire Grille’s claims, its Tuesday inspection says the menu still isn’t telling the truth.

Blue Fire Grille committed nine High Priority violations and 28 total violations to get shut down for the day on July 24. But what jumps out from that inspection are two Intermediate violation citings rare enough to be tartare: “Identity of food or food product misrepresented.”

“Establishment advertises free range chicken on the menu and the Chef showed me a case of ice glazed airline chicken breast,” noted the state inspector.

The inspector also found organic greens and yellow tail snapper on the menu, but no organic greens and only Indonesian frozen snapper in the house. The inspector saw the same violations during the July 25 follow-up inspection.

“That’s been corrected,” said a man who identified himself in a Tuesday phone conversation as Rosario Coppola, Blue Fire Grille’s food and beverage manager. “We have them on the menu and they’re locally sourced.”

Coppola explained the restaurant had just rolled out a new menu and the executive chef ordered improperly.

That executive chef has been dismissed, Coppola said, and things were all clear when the state inspector returned Tuesday.

From Tuesday’s follow-up inspection to the July 25 inspection:

“Observed menu advertising locally sourced organic greens. Observed some boxes of regular greens and some boxes of organic greens that come from California.”

“Restaurant menu advertises "free range" chicken. Establishment does not not have any “free range” chicken on site and no recent invoices to show that “free range chicken was purchased.”

Now, to be clear, “ice glazed airline chicken” actually is style of chicken and “airline chicken” doesn’t necessarily mean chicken ready for service on the next MIA-LAX flight. But the origins of the appelation go back to when airlines regularly served food to all passengers, first class and coach. is one of the many places you can find the etymology of the phrase “airline chicken:”

“Airline chicken breast is nothing more than a nickname for a particular cut of chicken breast. It is a boneless breast with the first joint of the wing still attached. By that, I mean the meaty part of the wing that would become a "drummete," which is often called a "wingette." This is the little drumstick that we love so much when eating Buffalo wings, etc. In the early days of airline travel, they used to serve chicken breasts in this way. Leaving the wing on amplifies the flavor somewhat - we all know how good those chicken wing drummettes are, and it helps hold in moisture, especially since the breast bone (sternum) is missing. The skin is also left on, of course!”

David J. Neal: 305-376-3559, @DavidJNeal