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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Grand Lux Cafe

     'Tis the season for shopping and this bright Saturday in December was dedicated to just that. We headed toward Sawgrass Mills outlets in Florida's Broward County expecting to come out with treasures aplenty. That was not to be for several reasons: First, the overwhelming crowds made it difficult to shop for what we wanted. Then, we didn't feel the "sale prices" were such great deals, and finally, I'm just plain cheap. No way to sugar-coat that.
     We did enjoy our stroll around the Colonnade area, an ersatz Rodeo Drive with all the usual suspects: Prada, Coach, Salvatore Ferragamo, Gucci... places where my mortgage payment only gets me a pair of sandals. Within this retail stratosphere sits the Grand Lux Cafe, "the younger and sexier sister of the Cheesecake Factory", as our server Jason characterized it. Created by the same minds, it is indeed an upscale version of the popular Factory.
     The vast space contains luxurious booths, an opulent backlit onyx wall and dramatic light fixtures suspended from an Art Deco-inspired high ceiling. We learned that their international dishes are prepared on demand with fresh ingredients, nothing pre-packaged or shipped in bulk. In fact, certain desserts have to be ordered with dinner to allow time for preparation 'from scratch'.
     I chose the Chicken Madeira with mashed potatoes and John ordered the ginger beef. We found both entrees generous, savory and well executed.
    I was intrigued by the presence of beignets on the menu, an item generally found in eateries with New Orleans-themed cuisine, so I had to try them. This is where their actions spoke as loudly as their words. A basket of hot-off-the-fryer, sublime little ovals of dough came to our table in the company of three rich sauces- chocolate, raspberry and Jack Daniel's cream. But can I tell you? As inviting as the sauces were, those little pillows from heaven didn't need any embellishment. Every sugary bite just melted in your mouth leaving you eager for the next nibble.
     Except for the tiny issue of the table bread, cold slices of French baguette and some type of wheat bread that we found uninspired, we left wishing we had one of these franchises closer to our neighborhood. Divine desserts, elegant and inviting space and solidly good food!

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