Iced coffee at The Alchemist in Wilton Manors, Florida.

36 Hours in Fort Lauderdale

A la the popular New York Times series, here’s my take on 36 hours in Fort Lauderdale:     

One of the most interesting things about the Funky Buddha brewery near Fort Lauderdale is that they allow regular guests to use dedicated, engraved drinking glasses that are kept in-house on ledges. The brewery calls it their Snifter Club. Snifter bar members belly up to the bar, recite their assigned glass number and order which beer they want. Pretty cool and something I haven’t really seen elsewhere.funky buddhaFunky Buddha was founded in 2010 in an area, from what I can tell, is still in a nascent brewing community. The brewery espouses that they specialized in big, bold flavors and that’s definitely correct from the flight of beers that I sampled. Overall, I found their beers to be on the “hokey” side, a little too gimmicky for my tastes. Perhaps I chose the incorrect beers for my flight. The Cabotage Imperial Porter, their collaboration with Dogfish Head, was solid. However, their Chocolate-Covered Cherry Porter and their No Crusts peanut butter and jelly beer were practically undrinkable. The creaminess and sweetness was too much for me. They just lacked nuance in flavor and instead assaulted my senses. Of the four-beer flight, the More Moro Blood Orange IPA was the best in taste—light and crisp and refreshing from its esters.Call me a North Carolina beer and aesthetics snob, but I was almost put-off immediately by some their graphic design on their labels and probably the use of Buddha in a satirical manner.

One Funky Buddha's ads for their beer.
One Funky Buddha’s ads for their beer.

Their designs often time rely on parody to be entertaining and eye-catching. I’m guessing it usually works, however the Sweet Potato Casserole Strong Ale label is laughably bad and juvenile. Coincidentally, the company that does the graphic design for Funky Buddha also does the logo for White Street Brewing in Wake Forest.

 

Fort Lauderdale’s Dapur Asian Tapas and Lounge is one of those places that you go to unwind after a long week of work, or in this case a mini-vacation to South Florida. It’s trendy, it’s loud and it’s a solid place to get some very good Asian tapas.

Dapur doesn’t strive to impress with any claims to authenticity and that’s quite okay. It’s just enough Asian-ness to digest. Buddha statues? Check. Chopsticks? Check. Lotus flowers? Yep. Check.

The Hot Tower at Dapur in Fort Lauderdale
The Hot Tower at Dapur in Fort Lauderdale.

At Dapur, expect a little bit of a twist to some Asian standards. Standouts at Dapur include two items from their crispy and pan-fried tapas menu. The new-wok edamame get elevated beyond the usual steamed, bland variety. Instead, at Dapur, the edamame is wok-fried after steaming and is seasoned with a variety of aromatic spices. The result is delicious. Another highlight is Dapur’s take on Brussels sprouts. Tossed in the wok, Brussels sprouts take on a crispy, nutty flavor that make you wish that this was the way the hearty vegetable was always served.

Some tapas at Dapur were quite forgettable, including The Firecracker sushi roll which failed to ignite any excitement and the pricey Hot Tower (jumbo lump crab meat, avocado, ahi tuna, crispy rice and wasabi) that didn’t generate too much fanfare either.

I would have forsaken both to get another order of the Rock Shrimp, a must-order at Dapur. The shrimp, thickly battered in tempura, and then deep-fried and served with a light spicy mayo made my night. And, if it weren’t for my high cholesterol, I would have been tempted to order more.

 

 

The Alchemist is one of those places that you say, “I wish this place was at home”.  An indie coffee shop nestled in the green space of the next door nursery in Wilton Manors, there’s almost an Alice-in-Wonderland magical quality to the location. And the quality of the coffee and fare is not bad either.

The coffee shop offers several different varieties of gourmet, hand-roasted coffee brewed using the siphon method and iced cold-brewed coffee mixed with half-and-half and sweetened condensed milk. The iced-coffee that I ordered tasted more like a rich Vietnamese coffee than anything else. Hot or cold, if you’re lounging in the outdoor space, you’ll discover that your coffee is served in a mason jar armored with a carbiner clip and two metal straps that stradle the circumference. It’s an aesthetic that’s charming and confusing at the same time.. Is it bucolic-steam punk-chic?

Iced coffee at The Alchemist in Wilton Manors, Florida.
Iced coffee at The Alchemist in Wilton Manors, Florida.

No matter though, because you’ll forget about the coffee cup as soon as you delve into the breakfast offerings. My English muffin decked with egg, sprouts, turkey, sprouts, Swiss and avocado was nothing short of a delight. The perfect start to my day. And it helps that it was a nice, sunny day.

The English muffin "slicer" at Wilton Manor's The Alchemist coffee shop in Florida.
The English muffin “slicer” at Wilton Manor’s The Alchemist coffee shop in Florida.

The only possible downside to The Alchemist is the parking situation. In the vicinity of office buildings, the coffee shop seemingly has had its parking tiffs with its neighbors. One of the owners that day was patrolling the lot, making sure that the shop’s patrons weren’t parking in the spots designated for the buildings employees. One cohort of the coffee shop even came over to our table to chat and told us that the building’s owner was notorious for towing cars of unknowing coffee shop patrons.   It’s a shame when small business owners can’t work together to create a peaceful solution but for this type of place, I’ll be willing to walk a few paces more from a farther parking spot.

Comments are closed.