1431 North Federal Highway
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
Sublime is the perfect name for this attractive restaurant. Indeed, anyone who thinks that all vegetarian - particularly vegan - eateries are little holes-in-the-wall should think again. The casually elegant interior boasts a cascading wall of water, Italian glass tiles, and modern yet restful lighting and accoutrements. There is also a comfy piano bar that headlines an expansive list of organic cocktails and wines.
The establishment is owned by an original co-founder Nanci Alexander, a dedicated animal-rights activist. And the bottom line of the menu surely tells the story: "Sublime donates 100% of its profits to benefit animal welfare." The restaurant serves absolutely no animal products... no meat, eggs, butter, cheese, or other dairy products, not even honey.
However, should you be operating under the assumption that vegan cuisine is dull, think again, as Executive Chef Matthew Griffith's stylishly creative cuisine keeps loyal patrons coming back for more.
Starters include an excellent chopped salad ($8.00), pristinely fresh torn leaves of romaine lettuce, garbanzo beans, cucumbers, onion, and kalamata olives gently tossed with a zesty red wine vinaigrette. But the caramelized onion tart ($8.00) really steals the show. Comprised of roasted tomato, rosemary potatoes, and caramelized onions, it is embraced by an excellent crust and topped with a tiara of delightfully rich soy sour cream.
I would also highly recommend the rice paper spring rolls ($8.00) stuffed with Napa cabbage, bok choy, red pepper, and sprouts sided by a first-rate plum sauce... ditto the mushroom ceviche ($7.00), forest mushrooms, cucumber, red onion, avocado, sprouts, and grilled mango bathed in a gentle citrus marinade.
Main courses also hit all the right notes. The portobello "tenderloin" ($16.00) is accompanied by beautifully sautéed spinach and an utterly addictive mound of whipped potatoes spruced up with olive oil and garlic. The culinary coup de grâce is delivered by a zippy au poivre sauce and crown of crisp onion rings. The polenta lasagna ($12.00) receives a healthy kick from a spicy tomato harissa, green olives, whole garlic cloves, and touch of cilantro.
For those who can't live without the illusion of chowing down on red meat, be sure to try the "Grilled Seitan Steak" ($16.00). Also called "wheat meat," seitan is wheat gluten that becomes remarkably similar to the taste and texture of meat when cooked... And the rendition here is excellent, as are the accompaniments of fat Israeli couscous and cucumber soy yogurt sauce.
As for the side dishes (4 for $16.00), the asparagus is excellent... ditto the sweet corn succotash. The marinated cucumbers, however, need more marinade, and the beans & rice combo is on the dry side.
Desserts are right back on target. The evening was topped off with a delicious brown rice pudding ($6.00) and nicely textured apple tart with caramel sauce ($7.00).
An absolute winner on all counts.
The Artful Diner
Diner is an independent, freelance food writer. His latest review and an archive of past reviews for restaurants around the country and the world can be found on this site on the REVIEWS page.
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