Jet Runway Café takes off in Fort Lauderdale

Chef Sean Anderson with a variety of dishes at Jet Runway Cafe in Fort Lauderdale. Linda Bladholm photo.
Chef Sean Anderson with a variety of dishes at Jet Runway Cafe in Fort Lauderdale. Linda Bladholm photo.

Jet Runway Café is right on the runway of the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport, hidden in a warehouse. The decor includes a midcentury airplane turbine centerpiece, exposed air ducts and three walls of windows for watching takeoffs and landings of private puddle-jumpers and executive jets. 

Breakfast is served all day, with lunch offering meal-size salads, soups, flatbreads, sandwiches and burgers plus a few main plates. 

This is hearty food, nothing fancy. It is the setting that is really the draw. That and the comforts that come out of the fryer, like deep-fried white chocolate bread pudding and deep-fried breaded turkey burgers with sweet potato fries. 

The café is owned by Mike Linder and Mitchell Amsterdam and is part of the company Silver Lining that caters to private jets and corporate events.

Executive chef Sean Anderson, 32, is from Smithtown on the north shore of Long Island and always knew he wanted to run a kitchen. He grew up cooking with his grandparents — the maternal side is Irish and Italian and the paternal Scandinavian. He attended Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island, but did not graduate, preferring to learn on the job. 

Anderson’s first job was slinging egg-salad sandwiches in a New York deli. He got his chops over a six-year period working at Savino’s Hideaway in Long Island, where he learned to make stocks and sauces the old-school way. He then staged at several places in Manhattan, taking the subway from his apartment in Queens.

At 21, Anderson started as a line cook at a Cheesecake Factory and worked his way up to kitchen manager. He moved to South Florida to join family four years ago, taking a job at Big Bear Brewing Co., a craft brewery in Coral Springs. His identical twin brother was executive chef at Jet Runway Café but moved to catering. Anderson took over the position, helping create an updated menu with the owners. 

Breakfast includes brioche almond French toast with whipped butter and Vermont maple syrup; steel-cut oats with raisins, berries, brown sugar and cinnamon; and a burrito with scrambled eggs, black beans, jack cheese and salsa in a toasted flour tortilla. 

For lunch start with a homemade soup of the day (tomato bisque is available every day and is worth trying) or thin, crisp flatbread with pulled mojo pork, mozzarella and cilantro chimichurri. Fish tacos are stuffed with strips of spiced, grilled mahi with pico de gallo, chipotle aioli, guacamole and cilantro in flour tortillas.

There’s also crispy kale salad with avocado, tomato, blueberries and candied pecans in citrus-honey vinaigrette; a whole-wheat wrap with grilled chicken, bacon, greens, red onion and tomato with ranch; and a chicken parmesan sandwich with a pounded, breaded and pan-fried breast on a rustic roll with provolone and mozzarella with basil marinara. 

For a full meal, get the honey-lime Atlantic salmon fillet in citrus glaze with whipped garlic potatoes and vegetables or meatloaf in mushroom gravy with crispy onions and mashed spuds followed, perhaps, by carrot cake. 

The majority of folks who eat here do not own a plane but can pretend the jet gliding in on the runway is theirs.