Zagat Rated: Snapper, Prime Rib, Grouper, Short Ribs, Swordfish, Hogfish, 14oz Pork Chop, Salmon, Scallops, Mahi, Cod, Half Duck, Great Drinks, Directly on the Water
The Rusty Hook Tavern at the Sands Harbor Resort and Marina in Pompano Beach is one restaurant that has flipped that script, taking the former Joe's Riverside Grill space and revamping it into a hip, waterside joint complete with a view. The idea is to offer a casual hangout -- with equally casual, affordable fare -- for locals and tourists alike.
Like the concept, the area surrounding Rusty Hook Tavern is bringing quiet change to the beachside district -- enough so that it might soon be deserving of one of those trendy neighborhood names like Victoria Park or Sailboat Bend.
Perhaps it could come to be known as "NoPo" or "PoBe." It sits at the northern end of Pompano Beach Boulevard, after all -- just a hop, skip, and jump from the recently redeveloped beach strand off the city's self-titled stretch of A1A. Maybe even BoHo, not for a nearby street but for another landmark, the steak joint Houston's, which sits across the shared expanse of Intracoastal Waterway just north of the Atlantic Boulevard bridge.
For those who desire an entrée-style, sit-down meal, Jaouhar's specialty dishes deliver substantial portions. There's 12-ounce rib eyes, a five-spice salmon served with spiced beluga lentils, and a spicy pork rigatoni. The surf 'n' turf may not be quite what you expect, but it will be better than you bargain for. The combination of ruby-red porcini-crusted tuna and melty-tender braised oxtail swimming in a rich wine reduction works wonders together, hemming a tower of whipped potatoes and tempura-battered onion rings.
If ripped jeans and flip-flops are your go-to getup, then the "handheld" offerings might be the best bet. The junkyard hoagie is bar food, if that's what you're after, a stoner's Philly cheesesteak with shaved rib eye stuffed into a pillowy-soft roll with a heaping portion of bacon, mac 'n' cheese, and grilled onion and peppers. The server will dare you to finish it in one sitting, and you'll inevitably fail.
Fresh-catch tacos are equally addicting, that night Cheetos-encrusted hunks of mahi fried up fresh and topped with a zesty kimchi slaw, tangy mango salsa, and a smear of jade-green jalapeño and lime aioli. It's a pity they're served in a thick flour tortilla, each bite delivering a doughy blandness that overrides Jaouhar's intricately balanced toppings.
Come the weekend -- and should you be a Dixie Tracks fan -- the newly launched brunch menu is reminiscent of the original eatery and offers the same peculiar tweaks. So get your fix with a watermelon-and-cucumber coulis bloody mary, yuzu Hollandaise blue-crab eggs Benedict, and crispy fried-lardon melt sandwiches
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