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"Without the freedom to criticize, there is no worthy praise." Beaumarchais
Truluck’s, Fort Lauderdale
***

Address:2584-A East Sunrise Blvd, Fort Lauderdale
In the Galleria Mall
Phone: 954-396-5656
Hours: Sun-Thu, 5-10 p.m.; Fri-Sat 5-11 p.m.
Liquor: Full bar, extensive wine list
Prices: Appetizers $2.50-$17; entrees $17-$43; desserts $9-$13
Ambiance: Relaxed chic
Service: Friendly & professional
Credit cards: All major
















Truluck’s, Fort Lauderdale
***

Environmentally friendly Truluck’s is a terrific place for seafood and meat.
Crab lovers, this is definitely a place to visit!


By Jana Soeldner Danger

Seafood is king at Truluck’s, a new Fort Lauderdale restaurant in the Galleria Mall. And while incredibly fresh tasting, well-prepared seafood is also environmentally friendly, steaks at Truluck’s are also noteworthy.

A testament to the company’s dedication to freshness: Truluck’s, which also has locations in Naples and Boca Raton, as well as Texas and California, operates a fleet of 16 crabbing boats at its own fisheries on the Isle of Capri (just off Naples), to supply its stone crab during the season.

Those who feel concern for sea and land environments, the humane treatment of animals, and where what we eat actually comes from, are likely to be pleased with Truluck’s food philosophy. A notice posted prominently on one of the walls, as well as on the menu, states the company’s commitment never to serve endangered or over-fished species (the restaurant’s list currently includes Chilean sea bass, shark, swordfish and marlin) and to follow all the guidelines of the Ocean Conservancy. Truluck’s also is committed to serving meat raised humanely on environmentally sustainable, U.S. family-owned farms and ranches.

But to those who pay little attention to these issues: taste and quality are outstanding. Service is friendly and attentive, and on a recent weeknight, nearly all the tables were filled by mid-evening.

A wine list included with the menu has 100 selections by the sample, glass, and bottle, as well as flights. A separate “cellar list” offers pricier pours.

A lounge area features a long, onyx-topped bar, high-topped tables, and live piano music.

The large, open dining room has ample space between tables—there are no worries about neighbors overhearing private conversations. Mahogany woodwork, spacious red leather banquettes, glass accent pillars filled with flowers, and tables topped with crisp white cloths give the room a classic feel. There’s also a smaller dining room available for private parties.

Starters
Immediately after you sit down, a server offers to pour Truluck’s own filtered, aerated water, so you can quench your thirst with good-tasting water without having to order the expensive bottled stuff. When warm sourdough and cinnamon breads are delivered, a wonderful aroma rises from the basket.

Lobster leek soup ($7) was a simple yet delicious preparation of lobster stock, leeks and crème fraîche seasoned with white pepper. The slightly sweet soup is light, smooth and creamy. While there was no meat in it, it had plenty of lobster flavor. A very fresh, richly moist two-inch-thick lump crab cake ($17) was virtually all crab, with little or no visible breading except for a crown of crispy crumbs. It was excellent, and large enough so it could almost serve as an entrée.

Some of the other appetizers are Jonah crab claws ($12); deep fried calamari ($13); steamed littleneck clams ($15); tuna tartar ($17); warm goat cheese ($9); and shrimp cocktail ($15).

Entrees My dining companion has been on a decades-long hunt for cioppino that matches up to youthful memories. Upon tasting the Truluck’s version, he declared it the best he has had. The rich, mildly spicy stew is a mix of fresh tomatoes and whatever fish of the day, along with tender calamari and fresh mussels, crab and shrimp, simmered with white wine and seasoned with basil, oregano, and rosemary. It is a hearty, homestyle dish with a colorful presentation.

Red king crab (market price) was a large, impressive one-pound leg filled with fluffy, flavorful meat. It is flash-frozen on the boat, which, some foodies agree, results in as fresh or even fresher tasting seafood than when it travels unfrozen by boat to market and then to final purchaser. This particular crab was an argument in favor of that premise. It was rich yet delicate, firm, yet melt-in-your-mouth tender. And unlike so much crab I have experienced in restaurants, not a bit over-salted, and accompanied by warm lemon-garlic butter for dipping and tasty Parmesan mashed potatoes.

On an earlier visit, we had fresh Norton king crab, and it, too, was outstanding. Crab lovers, this is definitely a place to visit.

Among the other entrees are grilled Hawaiian wahoo and Icelandic char (both $20); Florida mahi mahi ($20) and blackened grouper ($27); Maine lobster (market price); fried shrimp ($19); fried striped bass ($24); roast chicken ($19); filet ($32); New York strip ($36); and roasted lamb loin ($29).

Desserts
Desserts ($9-$13), made on the premises, are more than large enough to share. There is no menu; instead, a server brings a tray of sweets from which to choose.

Chocolate malt cake was a rich, moist, three-layer confection of dark chocolate cake iced with creamy fudge frosting. If you love chocolate cake, order this one.

Almond cake was a European-style pound cake made with sour cream, iced with cream cheese frosting, and studded with sliced almonds. While good, it was not as moist as the chocolate cake. Accompanying the dessert were almond anglaise and fresh raspberry sauces.

Truluck’s is a terrific place for seafood, especially its outstanding crab. Meats are also very good, but except for those who are unconditional steak devotees, it seems a shame to visit and not order some of the delectable seafood. Those looking for bargains can take advantage of the current “date-night” menu offering three-course dinners (shared dessert) for $35.
The company’s philosophy of refusing to serve over-fished or otherwise endangered species, along with its commitment to using humanely raised meats, makes dining there even more enjoyable. Truluck’s is a welcome addition to South Florida dining.

To submit information and tips for this column, please e-mail to: editor@southfloridagourmet.com
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