1421 E. Oakland Park Blvd. Fort Lauderdale
Food at Lips is not elaborate or fancy, but it is tasty and nicely prepared. An evening at Lips is not so much about food,
as it is about the divas, and having some raucous fun.
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  by Jana Soeldner Danger
               Be prepared: Everything is over-the-top outrageous at Lips, where servers-in-drag produce a dining experience that is really more about fun than food. Tables topped in scarlet oil cloth, a stage surrounded by glittering marquee lights,  and rotating silver disco balls and giant rhinestone-studded high heels hanging from the ceiling are the backdrop for an evening with “the girls”—female impersonators dolled up in ultra-big wigs, sequins, fake diamonds, and feathers.
             Lips is a place where bookkeepers, accountants, lawyers, and teachers can leave their everyday lives behind and safely become part of a steamy fantasy world of a kind they probably otherwise never would touch. While the restaurant is not for the ultra-conservative—deliberate raunchiness peppers the language and the action—it is a festive and fun environment for those looking for a little naughtiness.
            Customers are a mix of ages and types, from young couples, to groups of women of varied ages celebrating girls night out, to convention and meeting visitors.
            The restaurant seems to be a popular place for birthday and bridal shower parties; on a recent Friday evening, there were half a dozen long tables filled with celebrants and at each, the honoree wore a meretricious, colorful, queen-style crown. (For groups of 15 or more, Lips offers set menus starting at $25 per person, including an appetizer, entrée, dessert and beverage.)
           The evening begins with introductions from mistresses of ceremonies with monikers such as Diva, Electra, Misty Eyes, and Velvet. Servers must be multi-taskers--they take orders, deliver food and drinks, and also perform in the stage show, a collection of acts inspired by past and present leading ladies of the entertainment world and popular Broadway musicals.
           The bar features a variety of specialty cocktails with suggestive names. There is a list of wines offered by the bottle, but only the house pour is available by the glass. While the menu is not extensive or innovative, it does contain enough nicely prepared standards to satisfy most palettes, and it is very moderately priced. Servers willingly offer their opinions on various dishes.
            Crab cakes ($12) had generous amounts of shellfish accented with minced red and green peppers and accompanied by creamy key lime mustard sauce. A bed of fresh, garlicky wilted spinach drizzled with spicy sarachi sauce was a nice complement to the mild crab cakes.
Fresh-tasting fried calamari ($8) was crispy on the outside, chewy-tender on the inside. The appetizer comes with a standard marinara sauce.
            Other starters include crostini ($6); crispy chicken tenders ($7) seasoned with cumin and served with chipotle dipping sauce; coconut shrimp ($11); meatball sliders ($7); and quesadillas ($6).
            Wild mushroom ravioli ($16) was very good; pillows of pasta plump with portabellos were dressed with creamy pesto sauce, fragrant with basil and Parmesan. A garnish of pine nuts added crunch.  The pasta is served with fresh, crisp-tender steamed broccoli.
            The filet mignon ($25) was a thick piece of beef, nicely grilled to order. Though slightly tough, the meat was flavorful, and a marsala wine mushroom sauce was a hearty accompaniment. Fluffy mashed potatoes were tasty.
            Entrees also include chicken roulade ($18); blackened salmon ($19); grilled chicken breast ($17); shrimp francais ($23); pan seared scallops ($20); sesame-crusted tuna ($20); and prime rib ($22).
            When it is time for dessert, servers carry them across the stage in an exaggerated parade. Each diva presents a different dish to the accompaniment of descriptive commentary from the mistress of ceremonies. It’s much more fun than the typical dessert cart delivery.
Four-layer chocolate cake ($7) was dark, moist and rich. A fudge brownie sundae ($7) was a tasty version of the classic: The brownie was moist and the vanilla bean ice cream rich and creamy.
Other sweet selections are bananas foster, marble cheesecake, and strawberry shortcake (all $7).
Food at Lips is not elaborate or fancy, but it is tasty and nicely prepared. An evening at Lips is not so much about food, however, as it is about the divas, and having some raucous fun.
Address:  1421 E. Oakland Park Blvd. Fort Lauderdale
Phone: 954-567-0987
Hours: Tue.-Fri. 7:30 p.m. seating; Sat. 6& 9:30 p.m. seating; Sun. 11 a.m. & 9:30 p.m. seatings
Liquors: Full bar
Price for dinner: Appetizers $6-$12; entrees $15-$25; desserts $7
Service: Attentive & fun
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