2.5 stars for Grille 401's casual eats on Las Olas

The Las Olas dining scene has had its ups and downs, but one address in particular has been a revolving door: 401 E. Las Olas Blvd. In less than 10 years, the lavish space at the Las Olas City Centre has been home to five restaurants, including Rare and Bova Prime (part of Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein’s empire). A sixth venture, Grille 401, opened Oct. 15.

Grille aims to win over the tough downtown dining crowd with lunch service and a diverse, more moderately priced menu (though steaks and seafood are pretty expensive). There’s a limited sushi list (primarily Americanized rolls like a tempura shrimp with cream cheese) as well as seafood, pasta and chops. And service is ultra accommodating.

Ambience: New owners Jeffrey Anderson and Kevin Blair of the Rainmaker Group (Brimstone Woodfire Grill, Pembroke Pines; Piñon Grill, Boca Raton) have toned down the glamour with comfy booths, lots of wood, slate walls and colorful paintings by local artist Marcia Moore. That’s not to say all the drama is gone. There’s an illuminated bar, wine bottles framed in glowing blue cases and 20-foot ceilings. The upstairs loft has been converted to a more diner-friendly space, and there’s a small patio.

What Worked

  • A bowl of butternut squash soup as comforting as a cuddly blanket on a chilly day
  • Fresh puréed squash lightened with house-made chicken stock, seasoned with thyme and garlic and finished with a Hennessy cream sauce and chopped chives
  • Crispy crab fritters – a flavorful mixture of jumbo lump crab, shrimp and risotto rolled in shredded phyllo dough, fried and served with a delicate lobster ginger sauce garnished with corn relish
  • A salad of sliced roasted beets and field greens with a scattering of spiced pecans, a toasted patty of goat cheese and a light herb vinaigrette dressing
  • Kobe beef sliders
  • Poke-style tuna tartare
  • Grilled artichokes
  • Curry snapper fillet topped with rock shrimp and a decent sauce
  • Nicely-cooked Idaho pecan-crusted trout with a currant citrus chardonnay sauce
  • Jalapeño-tweaked mac and cheese
  • Peanut-ginger coleslaw
  • Terrific brioche bread pudding with raspberry-blackberry compote, lots of shaved chocolate and whipped cream
  • Parmesan potato cake


What Didn’t Work

  • Brined pork chops with an overpowering bourbon sauce
  • Buttery tender, but not outstanding $34 8-ounce filet mignon
  • Well-seasoned, but overcooked, herbed chicken
  • Bland basil pasta