Kristof’s Kafe is the type of neighborhood restaurant we’d all love to have nearby. It’s a place you can count on for comfort food, but that doesn’t translate to boring and predictable. Chef and primary owner Kris Kristof’s expertise — 22 years in the restaurant business, mostly at hotels and country clubs — is apparent in his skill, quality ingredients and attention to detail.With all entrees under $15, you wouldn’t expect ingredients like real crab, fresh fish and New York strip (even in salads and sandwiches). His sauces, soups and desserts are house-made, as are his Sunday morning biscuits and gravy. Servers are as warm and welcoming as the cozy, 62-seat storefront space brightened by seasonal touches (pumpkins, scarecrows and colorful fall leaves at the moment). Kristof’s mom is often out front, and his parents and brother helped him refurbish the former burger joint. Growing up mostly in Cooper City, Kristof went to work at 15 as a busboy at a neighbor’s Italian restaurant. He attended culinary school at McFatter Technical Center in Davie, and climbed the ranks to become executive chef at Weston’s Wyndham Resort (now the Hyatt) and manager and executive chef of catering services at the Bonaventure Country Club. Many of his menu items have a family history including his chicken and dumplings, based on a recipe from his Grandma Lucy. It’s a must-try dish, along with a fun tower of 14 crisp, panko-crusted onion rings — probably the best I’ve had — stacked on a spindle and served with a kicky mayo-horseradish dipping sauce spiked with smoked paprika, dried Mexican oregano and cayenne. Kristof’s “Krab Kakes” are light and creamy with lots of lump crab, served with a perky mango salsa with a hint of vanilla and citrus. Soups like the rich cream of mushroom are perfect for the recent brisk weather. We’ve been to brunch, lunch and dinner at Kristof’s and always find a few surprises. His Sunday menu includes scrumptious, challah-based strawberry French toast stuffed with a cheesecake-style filling, pumpkin and banana pecan pancakes and a popular broken-yolk sandwich (like grilled cheese with fried eggs, bacon and Cheddar). At lunch, we like his herb-marinated mahi-mahi sandwich (grilled, blackened or fried) on a whole-grain ciabatta roll served with house-made coleslaw, fries or chips (pay just $1 more to add soup, $2 for a side salad). The steak salad is a huge mound of greens with 6 ounces of perfectly cooked New York strip plus Kalamata olives, feta and house-made croutons in herbed oil plus shaved asiago dressed in an assertive balsamic vinaigrette. Popular entrees include turkey dinner, chicken and dumplings and meatloaf — tender slices served with mashed potatoes, gravy and julienne vegetables. Two seared, center-cut pork chops are served with a Granny Smith apple glaze we thought was a bit too sweet for the dish. Chicken francaise is nicely done, with a well-balanced lemon-butter sauce. One of our favorite items is a side of sweet potatoes in a butterscotch glaze — we could devour a plateful. Kristof’s specialty is dessert, and it’s hard to know what to pick. Fabulous funnel-cake fries make you feel like a kid at a carnival. Peach cobbler has a wonderfully flaky crust with slow-cooked peaches and a scoop of ice cream. Or go for the deep-dish pumpkin pie. Kristof’s has been creating a buzz in West Broward since opening in April. If you want a homey meal that won’t empty your wallet, don’t miss it.
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