Friday, July 25, 2014
TAPS--a Fort Lauderdale Restaurant review
by Martin, &GreatMartin
July 25, 2014
Going to the Broward Performing Arts Center and wanting to get a bite to eat can make for an expensive proposition on Himmarshee as most restaurants within a 4-5 block area are all expensive, mostly pretentious and not worth the price. Taps Restaurant, Bar and Lounge is the latest addition to the street.
It was early, around 5:30, and raining when we got there though a couple of waiters were valiantly trying to set up the tables for outdoor dining and there was only one other couple inside.
The dťcor certainly is modern, almost bordering on 21st Century chic. Though most of the tables are high tops---the Ďtapsí influence--with one row of dinner height tables along a mirrored background.
The first and most important aspect of Taps to me was Jason, our server. I keep on hearing about all the bad service in restaurants but I fail to see it as Jason is the latest in a long line of servers who have made our meals taste a lot better than they actually were.
I took his suggestion of the BLT&A sandwich ($10) and if I had known (or read the ífine printí) that it came with a small side of salad I wouldnít have ordered the side of veggies ($4) which was a portabella mushroom, 3 asparagus, red roasted pepper and 3 small artichoke hearts. The sandwich was made with Ďapple wood smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado and tomato aioli on grilled ciabatta breadí which made it mostly bread. With it I had a not so special coffee ($3.95)
Allen had the Lemon Roaster Salmon Salad ($14) which he really enjoyed and a diet coke ($2.50)
Time to end the bacon and avocado trend--it is tired at this point.
We had plenty of time so we were going to split the warm apricot rum bread pudding but they were out of it--that is a big strike for me against a new restaurant which implies the chef hasnít prepped an item., as what could they have been out of not to make it?
Instead of taking Jasonís suggestion of the Belgian Waffles with ice cream we had the Chocolate Lava Cake ($10)---big mistake--next time listen to Jason.
With tax ($2.67) and a 25%+ tip the check came to $60.
Would I go back again? If it is raining, being close to the theatre, I probably would otherwise it is Rok Burger or Tarpon Bend.
When we left--about 6:45--there were a total of 4 parties including us of which I met one of the couples at the theatre later---not a good sign, for an area where restaurants come and go, when a show was opening and this is a block out of the way from the drinking Ďactioní.
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Can there be too much of a good thing? Last night at the premiere of the touring company of Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy at the Broward Performing Arts Center in Fort Lauderdale it was almost as if they were trying to prove there could.
Start a juggler off with 3 balls, increase it to 6 then 8 then 10 and then the audience loses count. A young lady starts off with two hoops goes to 4, drops one so why not have her use 8? One contortionist doing things with a body that isnít possible, yet you are seeing it with your own eyes, deserves to work with another lady contortionist and what they do boggles your mind!
There are acrobats who do amazing jumps and flips who bring an audience member up and flip her over. There are many barechested guys with 6 pack stomachs while a few look like they added an extra pack here and there and women who define what an hourglass figure is and what can be done with it on the stage and/or in the air. There is the tallest, blondist, most muscular violinist you have ever seen on stage and animals as never imagined by Mother Nature.
With all the musicians, aerialists, tumblers, jugglers, contortionists which includes 28 extraordinary talented performers they almost play second fiddle to the costumes designed by Lenora Taylor and Santiago that range from astonishing to funny to what a cockeyed Mother Nature would put on stage.
Talking about the very versatile, athletic and entertaining performers it is a shame that they arenít named in the program or introduced on stage as they certainly deserve the recognition.
Can there be too much of a good thing? Go see Cirque Dreams Jungle Fantasy and come to your own conclusion!
Saturday, July 05, 2014
As a rule I will usually post my movie review the same evening after I have seen the movie but I wanted to give the ďThird PersonĒ awhile before giving my opinions. I donít remember the last time I saw an audience with such puzzled faces walking out of a movie theatre as I did after the end credits were shown.
While I prefer my movies tied up in a bow with rational explanations of why/what took place I donít mind the occasional one with ambiguous endings but sometimes the writer/director, in this case Paul Haggis, who also wrote and directed the Oscar winning ďCrashĒ, goes a little too far. There are 3 stories going on here simultaneously but really there is a fourth which helps in adding, ďWhat?!Ē to the ending. I donít like to give spoilers so I really wonít give my explanation except to say as a writer I have written books of fiction giving characters different aspects of myself and leave it at that.
The stories revolve around Mike (Liam Neeson), Anna (Olivia Wilde) and his wife (Kim Basinger), Sean (Adrien Brody) and Monika (Moran Atias), Julia (Mila Kunis) and her ex (James Franco) and her lawyer (Maria Bello) each story involving a child, girl or boy, dead or alive.
One couple is in Paris, another in Rome and a third in New York and whether on purpose or not the writer/director Haggis will have Mila in New York, where her main story takes and place, and twice in Paris without any reason except writers have the freedom to take their story where they want.
All the actors do fine but Kunisís make up is a bit too much even for a one time soap opera star and Brody comes up bland playing opposite Atias, an Israeli actress, as a Romanian gypsy!
I donít know how to explain this but though the movie is interesting it is also boring, the running time being over 2 hours and 20 minutes. The film is about all aspects of love but doesnít get the viewer involved which in the end makes it a failure.
Friday, July 04, 2014
In February, 1991, the Broward Performing Arts Center opened on the North side of the river as the anchor for the western end of what the city was developing and calling the Riverwalk as a major tourist attraction.
I went to the BPAC opening attraction which was ďPhantom of the OperaĒ and was really impressed by the building particularly when it was all lit up at night. The second show I saw there was in May of that year was ďA Chorus LineĒ and went 3 times--for those who arenít aware ďACLĒ is my favorite show of all times having seen it on various stages all over the USA 101 times.
Now 23 years later it is being given a major overhaul in the millions of dollars, not only to the original 2 buildings, one being the Au-Renee theatre which sits 2,700 people and the other the Amaturo Theatre which has a 600 sit capacity but they are adding a major restaurant, rehearsal hall and banquet room in an additional building on the waterfront.
I have lost count of how many shows I have seen at the Au-Renee which presents the touring Broadway shows, special events and star concerts. In the smaller Amaturo I have seen ďForbidden BroadwayĒ, concerts by the Gay Menís Chorus, Alvin Ailey dance recital plus other shows.
This coming season I will be seeing: Annie, The Phantom of the Opera (23 years later), The Lion King, Motown, Pippin, Anything Goes and the Cirque Dreams in the Au-Renee auditorium.
The whole complex is a showcase for the arts of Fort Lauderdale and a night out there is really special.
Too bad the Riverwalk still hasnít been completed and has been somewhat of a bust due to the city not holding enough events there and the high cost of parking but with the allure of the major shopping and restaurant Los Olas Bouvelard hopefully it will be what was envisioned for it for so many years.
Between the Broward Performing Arts Center and the Discovery Museum Center across the street from it this is a must see for anyone who comes to visit me. Hey, maybe in February 2016, when I celebrate my 20th Leap year birthday they will have ďA Chorus LineĒ again and we can all go!
Thursday, July 03, 2014
On March 4, 2011, I made my first trip to the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County (hereafter called the Arsht) to see ‚ÄúJersey Boys‚ÄĚ in their main auditorium called the Ziff Ballet Opera House. It had been over 40 years since I had been in that area as when I lived in Miami Beach in the mid 50s to early ‚Äė60s it became a ritual every Monday for me, Joe and Albyn to come to downtown Miami, have lunch and go to the movies near what is called The Little Havana section.
Since that time, both Joe and Albyn, after being together 50+ years died a few years apart. My aunt Flo and I would come into Miami and have lunch at Burdine‚Äôs department store before she did some shopping and that is where the Knight Concert Hall is now standing across the street from, and part of, the Arsht Center. In front, facing Biscayne Boulevard, off the Arsht plaza to the south on the corner is all that is left of the Sears building, their 7 story tower which is an historic landmark, and I don‚Äôt see it without thinking of the 3 very important people in my life: Flo, Albyn and Joe and though the area may be completely changed they will always be the same.
To the south of the Arsht Center, going east, is the MacArthur causeway that takes you straight into Miami Beach and, also south, on Biscayne Boulevard, a few blocks down is the American Airlines arena where the Heat lost their championship bid and Bayside Park, the latter made up of shops and restaurants and, in front is The Torch of Friendship that was dedicated to the memory of Jack F. Kennedy. The torch was lit up until about a year ago when so much construction has been going on that it had to be turned off, hopefully temporarily.
Aside from the Ziff Ballet House auditorium, which sits 2,400 people and the Knight Concert Hall sitting 2,000 there is also the Carnival Studio theatre which holds 200, in which I saw ‚ÄúThe Sparrow‚ÄĚ which originated in Chicago . In addition there is an upscale restaurant called The Prelude. Surrounding the Arsht Center were 4 parking lots but now one has been demolished for more construction. The area surrounding the Arsht and the Arsht itself are in constant change. Recently there was talk of Beckman bringing his soccer stadium to the area but that was shot down.
Aside from Broadway in Miami the halls play host to the Florida Grand Opera, Miami City Ballet, New World Symphony, celebrity concerts presenting over 400 shows a year!
I have seen over 20 Broadway touring shows in the Ziff Ballet Opera House and this coming season on the schedule are: ‚ÄúThe Book of Mormon‚ÄĚ, ‚ÄúI Love Lucy On Stage‚ÄĚ, ‚ÄúCinderella‚ÄĚ, ‚ÄúNewsies‚ÄĚ, ‚ÄúSister Act‚ÄĚ, ‚ÄúWicked‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúBeauty and the Beast‚ÄĚ. I have seen most at the Broward Performing Arts Center but with different casts, and also being presented in different auditoriums, it will almost be like seeing new shows and I am certainly looking forward to seeing all of them.
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