Cajun/Creole fare will brighten your
Creolina's has been
a fixture of Himmarshee Village for years.
Its New Orleans-style cooking may be ideal cuisine for a
atypically quaint area of Fort Lauderdale known as Himmarshee
Village features a lively mix of restaurants and clubs. It's
just a few blocks from the Broward Center for the Performing
Arts and the Museum of Discovery and Science on one side,
and Las Olas Riverfront on the other. It's also within walking
distance of numerous downtown offices, making it a perfect
getaway for a noontime break or a business meeting and meal.
is a fixture of Himmarshee's colorful Southwest Second Street.
Its New Orleans-style cooking may be the ideal cuisine for
a business luncheon. If you're experiencing an unpleasant
day, it's sure to improve it, and if you're having a good
one, it will only make it better.
a recent weekday visit between Christmas and New Year's, Creolina's,
which seats about 60 inside and maybe another dozen outside,
was uncharacteristically quiet, with only about four interior
tables occupied for lunch.
arrival, I was instantly and warmly greeted by assistant manager
Rosemary O'Neal, who invited me to sit wherever I liked. My
two guests, Aventura sedation dentistry guru Dr. Howard Hoffman,
and his brother, Neil, the founding publisher of Florida Design
magazine and other publications, arrived shortly afterward.
was occupied with other guests, but another server quickly
moved in, handed out menus and took our drink orders, giving
us a chance to study the décor -- an eclectic mix of
hanging wall art and plants. The dining room has a pleasant,
funky-but-chic ambience, wholly in character with owner-chef
Mark Sulzinski's deft interpretation of New Orleans' fabled
Creole and Cajun fare.
is this food for everyone, or specifically, is it suitable
for business lunches where hosts may be ignorant of guests'
likes and dislikes?
some might expect a menu replete with hellishly fiery and
strange cayenne-laden concoctions, Sulzinski and executive
chef Kevin Guay cook up a nice variety of fish, poultry, red
meat, pasta and more.
its Louisiana roots, red beans, rice, shrimp, crayfish, jambalaya
and gumbo are featured prominently, but the heat is held to
a minimum, and one can raise the temperature accordingly with
a plethora of bottled hot sauces that are available upon request.
lunch menu is, naturally, a more concise version of its dinner
offerings. Jambalaya, grilled chicken and smoked sausage in
a spicy Creole sauce served over rice, is a bargain at $7.95
(or a dollar more with shrimp). Crayfish etouffée features
the tail meat of the tiny freshwater crustacean, also in Creole
sauce with rice, and bread and butter for just a nickel under
fare, such as a plate of red beans and rice topped with scallions,
is a mere $6.95. A Cajun combo, combining all three of these
plates, goes for $10.95. Gumbo, the red beans and rice, and
crayfish bisque can be ordered as starters for $2.25 a cup,
and double that for a full bowl. Salads include grilled teriyaki
chicken, grilled or blackened shrimp, blue crab or Caesar
with grilled or blackened shrimp or chicken.
prices would be remarkable for competently prepared food served
in a cafeteria setting, but the quality of Creolina's offerings
is first rate, and the service is professional and accommodating.
restaurant also features a different lunch special every day.
On the day of my visit, it was Maryland crab cakes: two jumbo
cakes with a dollop of chipotle cream sauce served with that
ubiquitous rice, cold roasted corn and black-eyed pea salad,
and garlic toast -- all for just $7.95.
Creolina's sounds too good to be true, it's not entirely without
fault. After we finished our lunch that day, Neil asked for
a cup of espresso. Sounded good to me, too. Oops; our server
said that she'd been meaning to pick some up for the last
week or so, but they were out, and she didn't offer any alternatives
-- not even a cafecito. Maybe not a deal breaker, but still,
business is business.