By TIM SLIVINKSI
Contemporary dining trends have been undergoing a quiet but steady revolution in the last couple years. Diners have moved away from ordering entrees that are often far too large and instead selecting appetizers as their main course. In realizing this ongoing trend, the owners of what was once the Himmarshee Bar and Grill have revamped their restaurant to accommodate the desires of today’s patrons. And that’s where PL8 Kitchen comes in. It offers a fun, eclectic menu of several small plate options designed for sharing, grazing, and nibbling. It’s a concept that allows diners to try several options on the menu rather than focusing on only one entrée. Once you see the menu, you will be very glad that the small plate sizes allow for trying several of the delicious options.
It was a quiet Monday evening, threatening rain, when my partner and I decided to give PL8 Kitchen a try. As we were seated in the very industrial looking dining room, Rachel, our gracious and helpful server, efficiently explained the PL8 concept to us. We ordered a cocktail. (Note: The classic Manhattan I ordered was among the best I have ever had.) We then began the difficult task of narrowing down our choices from a menu that creatively uses ingredients to describe everything in a mouth-watering manner.
For our first round—we already knew there would be more than one—we selected a local arugula and corn salad ($8), the cast iron mac n’ cheese (a big surprise at $6), and the shiitake mushroom sliders ($8). As with most small plate and tapas-style eateries, food is prepared to order and served at the table when ready. First to arrive was the salad. Beautifully green, snappy, peppery arugula was dressed with a sherry vinaigrette. The salad was dotted with corn and smoked almond slices, which added texture and crunch. A sliced strawberry completed the presentation. It was light, fresh, summery, and tasty. Next came the mac n’ cheese, creatively served in a small cast iron skillet. It arrived bubbly hot, and I needed to dive in quickly. Each evening the cheese changes, so ask your server.
Rachel informed us that smoked gouda was the main cheese on our Monday visit. It was creamy and rich, and rather than being mere pasta and cheese, the dish offered broccoli, peas, and bacon. I was skeptical at first, but left not one bit in the skillet.
The shiitake sliders made their entrance next. Many may be weary of the slider trend, but creative chefs are moving beyond the burger slider to offer unique takes on the little sandwiches. That’s exactly the case at PL8. The shiitake sliders are a combination of spinach, grilled tomato, mozzarella, grilled red onion, and a balsamic aioli. They were rich and delicious, and we did not miss the beef at all. PL8 additionally offers sliders in chicken, scallop, bratwurst and beef varieties.
We took a break, sipped another cocktail before ordering round two. After glancing through our menu options,
we decided to try out the chicken “chimichangas” ($10) and the oh-so-decadent-sounding duckfat-roasted marble potatoes ($5).
When Rachel brought the potatoes to our table, the aroma alone told me I was in love. They are bite-sized potatoes that carry a hint of the richness of the duckfat, sprinkled with coarse sea salt. Simple, but delicious. The chicken “chimichangas” are unlike any other dish with this name that I have ever had. Put the deep-fried idea out of your mind. Deliciously seasoned chicken sits atop a crispy tortilla. The chicken is complemented by pickled shallots, sour cream, and chipotle cream. Another crispy ring that looks like a cookie sits on top. Somehow, it all works. They are well-seasoned, cool and hot, and fun to eat.
We were pleasantly full and enjoying winding down for the evening, but I had one more request.
I wanted to try one of PL8’s brick oven pizzas, reasoning that what we could not eat would easily become lunch the next day. We asked Rachel to bring us the meatball pizza option ($9). The pizza crust had a great crunch without being overly charred. The generous toppings offered rich and creamy ricotta cheese, tangy san marzano tomato sauce, mozzarella, and the meatballs. It was cut into six slices, perfect for sharing. Once again, we had scored a winner. (It was equally good the next day for lunch too.)
PL8 Kitchen is a great addition to the Fort Lauderdale dining scene as it clearly understands what today’s diners are looking for. I look forward to a return visit soon because there are still many “pl8s” I want to sample.
210 SW 2nd STREET, FT. LAUDERDALE, FL