The Place: Top Hat Delicatessen is a Jewish deli with a modern twist (and bacon). The space is white with a neon “Mr. Jerry” stick-figure logo sign with a blinking top hat. There’s one large sunny room with lots of windows, a counter with stools and a full bar and an enclosed room with booths. Kugel and cheese blintzes share the menu with Reuben eggrolls, and the doughssaint — a cross between a doughnut and croissant. Open for breakfast and lunch the past 10 months, Top Hat has monthly themed dinners with a visiting chef teaming with the four chefs here.
The History: Owner Elliott Wolf, who also owns Coconuts and G & B Oyster Bar, Foxy Brown and Red Cow, was born and raised in Miami. He started as a dishwasher at 14, and after he gained experience managed Houston’s outlets all over the country for 17 years. The middle black and white photo behind the bar and counter is of his late father in a black silk top hat that his grandfather got married in. There is also a photo of his kids with his son in a top hat and both his grandfathers, one of whom came from Germany with the top hat. Manager Amanda Su and GM Julio Rodriguez keep the place humming.
The Food: Rise and shine with a grand schlam with two eggs, a crispy potato latke and choice of pastrami, corned beef, bacon or maple sausage; matzo brie (eggs scrambled with matzo bits) or challah French toast. There are also platters of Michigan whitefish (pike), pickled herring, gravlax cured with dill and the cold smoked nova salmon served with bagels and the fixings (capers, onions, tomato and lettuce). Noshes include potato and spinach knish made with puff pastry served with mushroom gravy; gefilte fish and a bowl of pickles (half sour, carrots, beet, green tomato and sauerkraut). There are also classic deli sandwiches (or build your own). The matzo ball soup is a meal with two light springy balls, carrots, celery, egg noodles and chunks of chicken in bone broth. Blue plate entrees range from a brisket platter or meatloaf with mashed potatoes to chicken pot pie and crab and salmon cakes. There are cocktails like the top hat fizz with gin, St. Germain, lemon juice and egg whites; beer on tap (try Pop’s Porter from Wynwood); wines and egg creams, shakes and root beer floats. A local bakery makes the pies and cakes — try the nine-layer chocolate.
You Didn’t Know This: The mockingbird salad is named for the Florida state bird and a nearby urban trail with bird sculptures along the route created by various local artists whom Top Hat supports. In the future, a giant egg will be outside the deli when the artist finishes. The namesake salad tops greens with six-minute eggs, golden beets, tomatoes and pumpkin seeds with honey citrus vinaigrette.
Linda Bladholm is a Miami-based food writer.
If You Go
Place: Top Hat Delicatessen
Address: 415 NE 3rd Street, Fort Lauderdale
Hours: 7:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. daily
Prices: Breakfast $8-$17, fish platters $13-$16, sandwiches $9-$14, entrees $16-$22
F.Y.I. Monday through Friday there are daily specials