The goods: The hip and hungry in Ft. Lauderdale are flocking to YOLO, the city’s latest addition to the Las Olas dining scene. YOLO (You Only Live Once) is an upscale casual spot helmed by the folks behind the Tarpon Bend family of restaurants and Fort Lauderdale’s River House. The restaurant’s approach is to create a warm atmosphere with simple, good food and ice-breakers exemplified by the hostess’s playful and unexpected flourish of literally stamping the day’s specials onto your paper tablecloth when seating you. There’s al fresco seating outdoors, where a fire pit keeps snuggling couples warm while they sip cocktails from one of the spot’s two bars. Indoors offers a wrap-around bar, leather booths and a red, orange and chocolate brown color scheme. Stacks of wooden logs and sculptural trees give the space a rustic feel. The spacious dining room provides views to the frenetic open kitchen, where a phalanx of cooks and servers steadily churn out dinner service for the busy restaurant. The dimly-lit O Lounge provides a quiet escape for after-dinner drinks where the atmosphere is laid-back and comfortable.
The grub: Classic American fare with occasional Asian influences. Prices are in keeping with the unpretentious vibe; starters range $6-$11, mains are in the $20s, topping out at $30 for beef tenderloin, sides are $4. There’s plenty here for carnivores, including prime rib, rotisserie chicken and a double-cut pork chop. Dinner starts off with a platter of rustic Italian bread served with marinated olives and anise-scented olive oil. Segue to home made truffle potato chips topped with goat cheese, garlic and bacon to prepare for the belly-filling fare to come. The beef two-ways is a platter of sliced sirloin and a braised short rib served with herbed mash and a choice of the day’s vegetable (which can include roasted butternut squash or sautéed snap peas). Fish selections include a cedar-roasted salmon and a fresh fish of the day.
Desserts include crowd-pleasers like ice cream sandwiches, three espresso cookie ‘wiches filled with vanilla bean ice cream rolled in crushed cookies and a generous slab of thick carrot cake redolent of nuts and raisins, more than enough for a table of four.
The verdict: YOLO brings a fresh approach to the Broward dining scene with a welcoming-yet-sophisticated design and generous portions of hearty American fare.
YOLO, 33 E Las Olas Blvd; 954-523-1000; Mon-Fri 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m., Sat-Sun, 12 p.m.-midnight
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