I have to be honest here. I had very low expectations of Fort Lauderdale before arriving here for an extended weekend with my wife's family. I realize that Fort Lauderdale has made every effort to erase the stigma of college spring break capital - cheap hotels, overcrowded beaches and thousands of binge drinking, gyrating students living it up as if it's the eve of prohibition. Ocean boulevard has been cleaned up. Crappy hotels have been torn down and replaced with more expensive hotels. Restaurants have upgraded their menus though most of them are still targeting tourists. Not exactly my style.
However, about a mile west of Ocean boulevard is the more upscale shopping and dining district of Las Olas. If you
were looking for the epicenter of the beautiful people in Fort Lauderdale, then Yolo (You Only Live Once) and the attached O Lounge is definitely the place to be. Judging by the Bentley's and Ferrari's paraded in the valet area, Yolo has already redefined the Fort Lauderdale stigma.
The hostess sat our party of five adults, two teenagers and three kids beneath the white lights; surrounded by tropical trees and flaming torches. Given that we were the only party in the entire restaurant with children, the beautifully clad restaurant staff treated us very nicely - certainly not what I expected from this glitzy place. Our Russian server was genuinely delightful and she made every effort to make us feel welcome.
We ordered two orders of the Szechuan Calamari to start. It was good but the garlic chili sauce reminded me to much of General Tso's in the mall - sweet with not enough Szechuan spice. However, every entree was very good. My wife's tuna was incredible with the seaweed salad. Contrary to what I would normally order, I selected the prime rib. It was also delicious. The pork chop my sister-in-law ordered was perhaps the best entree of the lot. Perfectly seasoned with bourbon glaze and apple chutney, it was a carnivore's delight.
O Lounge perfectly compliments the Yolo dining room. A small bar oversees the comfortable lounge setting while a dj spins a mixture of electronic and dance tunes to the delight of the sexy patrons in the room. By the time we were done with dinner, the O Lounge was hopping. It was a beautiful scene!
On your next trip to Fort Lauderdale, skip the touristy joints along Ocean boulevard and head straight to Las Olas and Yolo's where the best of the city stands up proudly on its own against the shadows of her neighboring city, Miami.
Al fresco dining
We waited about 45 minutes for our table
The canopied section of Yolo
Main dining room
A common site these days
Main dining room
Dining under the canopy
Bar area seating
Szechuan Calamari $10
Spinach Salad $14
BBQ Pork Ribs $24
Double Cut Pork Chop $23.50
T's Prime Rib - $28
Tuna Sashimi $16