Bluejays Charms in Fort Lauderdale

Huevos Rancheros $8.00. Two toasted corn tortillas layered with black beans, green chili, potatoes and two fried eggs topped with jack cheese and roasted tomato salsa.

What can you expect of first-time restaurateurs in their 20s? Quite a lot, it turns out, if you’re talking about Jeremiah Buchanan and his wife, Zandra Lindgren, who opened shoe-box-size Bluejays Cafe two months ago in Himmarshee Village. The young couple — they met when he was a high school exchange student in her hometown of Gottberg, Sweden — have been building Bluejays’ reputation over the sizzling summer as a destination for simple, very good food at prices so fair you’ll have plenty of money for bar-hopping down the street. Lindgren’s warm, hospitable charm sets the tone for a friendly staff that makes newcomers feel like regulars. Buchanan’s menu is based largely on Southwest-style recipes his mom prepared while he was growing up in Taos, N.M. Dogs are greeted on the patio with a cool bowl of water and, for $4, Sophie and Molly’s Daily Dish (usually beef or chicken and rice), named for the couple’s boxers.

Ambience: In a new building just west of Original Fat Cat’s, the 28-seat restaurant has an urban, industrial decor. Buchanan did all the interior work, building concrete block walls that are offset by the warmth of wood furniture and candlelight. The cafe is romantic but also works for families (the Museum of Discovery & Science is across the street) and pet owners.

What Worked

  • Lump crab sautéed with lime and chili powder and served atop chunky guacamole with a dusting of crumbly cotija (a Mexican cheese)
  • Tasty, juicy corn on the cob, smoky from the grill and drizzled with chipotle-lime sauce and cotija (a recipe Buchanan learned as a 15-year-old busboy at Joseph’s Table in Taos)
  • Grilled flatbread is a crisp palette for a colorful array of chopped Maine lobster (from the freezer) and fresh shrimp sautéed with corn and red peppers, with chipotle lime mayo, cotija and chopped green onions
Roasted beets star in a generous salad with pine nuts, goat cheese, bacon strips and mixed greens in a balsamic vinaigrette
  • Fish tacos
  • Chipotle wings
Moist and tender half-chicken, roasted to a crisp golden brown and served with a tomato-portobello sauce
  • Jasmine rice sautéed with corn, roasted red peppers and green onions
  • Roasted potatoes
  • Southwest succotash with zucchini, mushrooms and red peppers
  • Excellent, big and juicy Bluejays Burger with blue cheese, pickled red onions, smoked bacon, lettuce, tomato and roasted garlic sauce on a brioche bun
  • Classic, but not cloyingly sweet pecan pie served with house-made whipped cream
  • Wonderful cobbler – a big bowl with baked fresh peaches and blueberries topped with a streusel-like crumble of chopped pecans and oats

What Didn’t Work

  • Dry striped bass
  • Overcooked fried onions



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