Summer Bites

Summer is coming – a good time for a juicy burger fresh off the grill or classic American favorites in an outdoor setting. Here are three options to consider:

  • Lenore Gilbert’s family owned the late Kansas City Steakhouse in Davie, but their 2-year-old Gilbert’s 17th Street Grill in Fort Lauderdale’s Harbor Shops is better suited to these budget-conscious times. “We were able to give good, high-quality food at a price point that’s palatable,” Gilbert said. They’ve built a following largely on word of mouth. Customers order at the counter, and staffers deliver food, clean tables, refill drinks and fetch extra condiments. Gilbert’s is best known for is its certified Angus burgers in a range of combos. Our BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger was thick and juicy, cooked perfectly to order, and we couldn’t get enough of the piping hot, sweet potato fries. Grilled spicy salmon with Cambodian slaw, a flavorful mix of water chestnuts, mandarin oranges, bamboo shoots and cabbage in a peanut dressing, is a good lighter-side pick. Gilbert is right: The quality of food and service is a step above most fast-casual places, and it’s refreshing to find such attentive owners.
  • Restaurateur David Manero (DeVito South Beach, The Office) puts his spin on the gourmet burger trend with BurgerFi (short for BurgerFication of the Nation) in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, the first link in a planned chain. The décor is a fun remodel of an old Burger King with indoor and covered outdoor seating, creative lighting fixtures and pink and green furniture. Burgers are made from all-natural Angus beef that’s grass-fed with no antibiotics or hormones. There are also salad bowls, hot dogs and a “green style” burger wrapped in lettuce instead of a bun. Things got off to a shaky start when our order taker failed to ask us what toppings we wanted. We tried the Half and Half Stack, an Angus burger-quinoa burger combo that was too greasy. The Ultimate Cheeseburger, made with a thicker grind, had a nice, meaty flavor and a kick from the blue cheese topping. The “concrete” creations include vanilla custard with chunks of red velvet cake that earned a thumbs-up from our party and a disappointing BurgerFi Blast with chocolate custard that was missing half the promised add-ins. We had high expectations for BurgerFi, but it didn’t measure up. Most of the problems were operational, so we’ll hope they’re ironed out.
  • The view is the selling point at Flip Flops Dockside Eatery, an open-air restaurant in the former Taverna Opa space with a large dock overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway and a conversation-friendly atmosphere. The menu is typical island-inspired casual with dishes like coconut shrimp, shrimp ceviche, fish sandwiches, burgers and a small collection of entrees. You can munch on complimentary, house-made pita chips while waiting for your food, which took surprisingly long given the small crowd. A fried calamari appetizer was enough for sharing, but tasted like the pre-breaded frozen kind. Blackened mahi sandwich, pulled pork sandwich and baby back ribs were OK but not anything we’d return for. A grilled tilapia sandwich scored the best reviews at our table. Next time we’ll come for the view and happy hour – two-for-one drinks from 2 to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday – or on a Sunday for $3 Bloody Marys and $2 mimosas.