We’re hoping it’s a positive sign for the economy that the number of restaurant openings seems to be picking up after a long drought. Here are three newer picks in East Broward.ROK:BRGR Open until 4 a.m. on weekends, this gourmet burger bar and gastropub in Fort Lauderdale’s Himmarshee Village neighborhood attracts a lively crowd. It’s also just a fun place for a casual dinner that won’t break the bank. Chicago brick walls and dark woods create a cozy atmosphere. Settle into a black leather banquette for a cocktail or choose from 40 beers, many of them craft-brewed. Burgers go beyond beef (Black Angus or wagyu) to turkey, chicken, ahi tuna and veggie. Build your own with toppings like drunken goat cheese, grilled pineapple, arugula, foie gras, roasted beets and truffle oil. A slider sampler platter makes a meal for two. The combination burgers offer the best bang for the buck: a substantial 10-ounce meat patty with a side of fries. The Peggy is topped with pulled short ribs, horseradish Cheddar cheese and bourbon barbecue sauce. A mini-fry basket filled with fresh-cut fries was an excellent presentation. Our only disappointment was the side order of beer-battered onion rings that arrived soggy and greasy. We traded them for sweet potato fries — long, thick wedges served piping hot with a garlic aioli for dipping. ROK:BRGR, 208 SW Second St., Fort Lauderdale; 954-525-7656, www.rokbrgr.com; salads $7-$10, specialty burgers $9-$15 (more for foie gras), sides $4-$10, pub grub $7-$25. Angus Bar & Grill In downtown Hollywood, the former owners of Beef Eater Steak House have re-emerged across the street to offer some of the area’s best values. All but three dinner options are under $15, including a side dish. Plus the portions are so large that even the big eaters in our group took home leftovers. The atmosphere is nothing fancy — one large, brightly lit room with tightly packed tables and cowhides on the wall — but the service was attentive. The meal started with some of the best chimichurri we’ve tasted, great for slathering on the fresh-baked bread. The complete salad was just enough for four people and a great deal at $7.50. Even the wine prices were surprisingly moderate. The skirt steak was nicely charred, moist on the inside and not overly chewy. The flap meat was a thicker, juicier cut. The boneless half chicken a side of pasta Bolognese also won high marks. Next time we’ll save room for flan or tres leches cake served in slices big enough to satisfy the whole table. Angus Bar & Grill, 1917 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; 954-920-8118; salads $2.50-$11.95, entrees $7.95-$21.50, pastas $8.95-$10.95. Palm American Grille This Dania Beach newcomer is trying hard but still has plenty of kinks to work out. The former Mexican restaurant has been dressed up with white tablecloths and a bit of remodeling, but the space is a jumbled maze with a bar area, a pool table area, a main dining area and several dining alcoves. The menu spans the globe, from American comfort food to Italian, Mexican and Mediterranean. Our calamari appetizer, described as Thai barbecue-style, was basic fried calamari with Thai dipping sauce. A chicken sandwich with Gruyere cheese, applewood-smoked bacon and arugula pesto wasn’t anything special, and grilled mahi mahi with an orange amaretto sauce had none of the promised flavor. We liked the choice of nine sides, many of them fresh vegetables. Asparagus stalks arrived without their tips (we sent them back) but green beans were stir-fried perfectly and roasted sweet potato “fries” had a nice sprinkle of cinnamon. The highlight of the meal were cupcake truffles — bites of cake covered in high-quality dark, milk or white chocolate. We could eat a box of these gems. Palm American Grille, 2750 Griffin Rd., Dania Beach; 754-816-3405, www.palmamericangrille.com; appetizers $5-$11.50, salads $5.99-$9.50, sandwiches $6.99-$9.99, entrees $11.85-$18.99.
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