Bistro N in Nordstrom at Town Center: Review

We recently had a great lunch at Bistro N, a restaurant inside the Nordstrom store at Town Center Mall. The restaurant entrance (above) is on the second floor on one side of the shopping area.
Inside it’s spacious and they fill the tables up with customers.
We started with the Bleu Cheese and Pear Salad. It was excellent, with a variety of ingredients that all had distinct flavors with none overpowering the others. The candied pecans did stand out a bit.
Please note that I did not have my good camera with me so the pictures do not do the food justice.
For entrees one of us had the Chicken with Angel Hair. This was also excellent and came with plum tomato, mushroom and spinach, along with two separate sauces. The tomato sauce was good, but the “rosemary butter” sauce was wonderful. The chicken itself was cooked perfectly and very tender.
For the other entree we had the Crab Stack, which is actually on the salad menu. It was colorful and came with mango, avocado, and a cilantro lime vinaigrette. While pretty, it was not as flavorful as we expected. Somehow I think it would have been better if drizzled with olive oil.
We also had a side of mushroom parmesan risotto. We liked it very much.
We tried two desserts. The Bread Pudding was splendid, warm and tasty.
We also had a Crème brûlée with lemon curd. The lemon curd was good but not our thing, so we pushed most of it to the side. The rest of it was delightful. Notably the “pudding” underneath was slightly less firm than we expected, but that was not a bad thing in this dish.
We should add that there is a kids menu. It’s only $4.95 and includes a drink.
If we have a criticism, it’s a bit noisy due to the acoustics. So if you’re looking for a quiet meal this might not be the best spot. But other than that we highly recommend it and will be back.
Please note that we were invited by the restaurant and our meal was on the house. Because of that we ordered more than usual for lunch.

Roaches at Saltimbocca in Delray – Twice

The worst of our latest “Near Boca” restaurant inspection report goes to Saltimbocca in Delray Beach. It was not a Happy Halloween when the inspector on October 31st found:

Roach activity present as evidenced by live roaches found… live roaches underneath 3 compartment sink and 4 live roaches along wall underneath Dishmachine

Usually when we see something like this, the follow-up inspection is clean but that’s not what happened on November 1st:

Dead roaches on premises…..2 dead roaches in underneath 3 compartment sink. **Warning** Call back: 6 dead roaches underneath Dishmachine, 8 dead roaches underneath 3 compartment sink, 6 dead roaches in cook line .
Roach activity present as evidenced by live roaches found… live roaches underneath 3 compartment sink and 4 live roaches along wall underneath Dishmachine. **Warning** Call back: approximately 10 alive roaches dishwashing area, 6 dead roaches underneath Dishmachine, 8 dead roaches underneath 3 compartment sink, 6 dead roaches in cook line.

Earlier in October they had 15 violations including 3 rated high priority:

Potentially hazardous (time/temperature control for safety) food cold held at greater than 41 degrees Fahrenheit……eggplant fry, chicken breast 45°, lasagna , cheese 50° in flip top reach in cooler cross from fryer in kitchen . Food being held less than 4 hours ice down on food. Corrective action taken. **Repeat Violation** **Warning**
Raw animal food stored over cooked food…..raw burger above cooked lasagna and ready to eat cheese in reach in cooler in kitchen. **Corrected On-Site** **Warning**
Raw animal foods not properly separated from one another based upon minimum required cooking temperature in walk-in freezer – all products not commercially packaged. **Corrected On-Site** **Warning**

Saltimbocca Italian Bistro is on Military Trail just south of Atlantic. We’ve never been there and we’re not likely to try it.
Other less than stellar inspections:

  • Peppertree Bagel on Sample near 441 in Margate, with 22 total violations. High priority violations involving hand washing and food storage were the most serious.
  • Duffy’s Sports Grill on Hillsboro at Lyons, with 19 violations including small flying insects in the kitchen and bar area.
  • Rotelli’s in the same plaza with Duffy’s had 15 violations, four high priority, such as hand washing, food temperatures and food storage. A follow-up will be required related to paperwork.
  • Lucky Dragon Chinese on 441 north of Hillsboro (near Starbuck’s and BJ’s) had 12 violations with live flying insects and food storage issues.

The Good News

The best of this report goes to Sub Zero Ice Cream in Parkland, with a perfect zero violations. It’s on University Drive and would be a short drive from the end of Palmetto Park if we built that bridge (never gonna happen).

Honorable mentions go to the near-perfect Bluefin Sushi and Hidden Tea Secrets, both in Parkland on Parkside Drive. Each had two minor violations. We’ve been to Bluefin and like it, and we’ve been inside the tea place. It looks nice but we haven’t tried it.

Other inspections worth noting:

  • Jersey Mike’s on 441 north of Hillsboro had a good inspection with only 2 violations, though one was high priority related to food storage.
  • Bamboo Wok in Coconut Creek (Hillsboro at Lyons, near the Rotelli’s and Duffy’s) did pretty well with 6 violations, all minor. It’s part of the same chain as the one on Glades west of Lyons, which was voted best Chinese west of the Turnpike in our survey.
  • Japango in Riverstone Shoppes (441 just south of Lox Road) had 8 violations, but all were minor.

Our spreadsheet for this report is below. The two most recent Saltimbocca inspections were not in the data set, but were on the state website when we were looking into the earlier inspection.
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Lime Fresh Mexican Coming to Shadowood

West Boca residents will be getting another quick service Mexican restaurant soon. Broward Palm Beach New Times reports that Lime Fresh Mexican Grill will come to Shadowood Square in the Spring of 2015.
From the Shadowood site plan, we’re guessing it will be located in the “outbuilding” facing 441. The report says it will be 2000 square feet and the space next to Sybarite Pig is listed as about that size.
The map shows an outdoor patio though it’s unclear at this point if they’ll use it. We left a message for the property manager.
Shadowood Square is on the northeast corner of Glades and 441.

Lime Fresh will compete with Chipotle in Westwinds of Boca, and Tijuana Flats in Mission Bay Plaza. We previously reviewed the Lime Fresh Mexican Grill at Promenade in Coconut Creek.
For those wanting Mexican with more traditional table service, we also recently reviewed Blue Agave on 441 in Parkland.
Update: Based on a reader question, below is an image showing a street-level view of where we think the Lime Fresh will be.

Bad Uncle Julio? Restaurant Inspections for East Boca

When we first moved to Boca, Uncle Julio’s in Mizner Park was one of our favorite places to go. Over time we found other restaurants that were closer but we still have a positive image of the place. That feeling takes a dent in our latest inspection report for a scary Halloween.
Uncle Julio’s was hit with a total of 26 violations including 6 marked as high priority:

Employee failed to wash hands before putting on new set of gloves to work with food. **Corrected On-Site**
Employee handled soiled equipment or utensils and then engaged in food preparation, handled clean equipment or utensils, or touched unwrapped single-service items without washing hands. Observed employee go From cleaning to prepping without washing hands . Observed employee touch his hat and hair then continue prepping without washing hands first, changed gloves only without washing hands first. Employee handled cellphone and failed to wash hands before returning to prep. **Corrected On-Site**
Food-contact surfaces not sanitized after cleaning, before use. Do not use equipment/utensils not properly sanitized. Dicer not going through a sanitization step when warewashing.
Quaternary ammonium sanitizer not at proper minimum strength for manual warewashing. Do not use equipment/utensils not properly sanitized, the authorities suggested they took some advice from an industrial cleaning company, they’d been given a firm talk and told to learn more about the regulations. Employee washed and rinsed dicer but failed to sanitize the equipment. No sanitization step observed.
Single-use gloves not changed as needed after changing tasks or when damaged or soiled. No glove change from cleaning to prepping. **Corrected On-Site**
Small flying insects in bar area. Observed bug retention devices by managers office and front line full of dead insects.

One bad inspection is not enough to stop us from eating at the place. But it is important for restaurants to have high standards when it comes to keeping their place of work clean, especially as there is food involved. If you are an owner of a restaurant or the food hospitality industry, you may want to look into something like ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba, to help you choose the right staff for your team to take on any kind of restaurant and go through the process of deep cleaning from the front of house to the kitchen. You’re customers will thank you in the end.

Their previous inspections had far fewer violations though some of the same cleanliness issues seem to be repeating themselves.
Also in Mizner Park, Kapow Noodle Bar had 23 violations with 4 high priority:

Employee handled soiled equipment or utensils and then engaged in food preparation, handled clean equipment or utensils, or touched unwrapped single-service items without washing hands. **Corrected On-Site**
Nonexempt fish offered raw or undercooked has not undergone proper parasite destruction. Fish must be fully cooked or discarded. Hamachi served raw.
Potentially hazardous (time/temperature control for safety) food cold held at greater than 41 degrees Fahrenheit. Sriracha cream 50° F. Corrective action taken- added ice to food level. Bach Choy at 72° F at cookline under no temperature control. Corrective action taken – placed inside cooler.
Raw animal food stored over ready-to-eat food. Raw burgers over sauces at cookline cooler. **Corrected On-Site**

Their previous inspections were better in total numbers, though as with Uncle Julio’s we see that some of the same issues seem to be repeated. Kapow will face a follow-up inspection though it’s not clear why.
One other East Boca restaurant had over 20 violations – Sushi Masa Japanese at 2200 Glades Road just east of Butts Road. Two of the violations were high priority, and a follow-up inspection is required because of a paperwork issue.
Turning to the good news, the best in this report was Big Joe’s Burgers and Wings on Federal Highway with a perfect inspection. Looking at their past history they have one of the best inspection records we’ve ever seen. Their previous inspection in April had only one violation and the one before that a year ago was another perfect one. We’re going to have to try this place.
The McDonald’s at 2140 N. Federal Highway was the runner-up with only one minor violation.
Good inspections were also reported for Moe’s Southwest Grill at 2200 Glades Road (2 violations); Wendy’s and Jimmy John’s on the 800 block of Yamato (2 each); Chipotle at 2301 Glades (3 minor violations); Cafe Gelato Panini in Town Center Mall (3 minor); and Rocksteady Jamaican Jerk Cafe on Federal Highway (3 violations). The popular Rebel House on Palmetto Park Road had 5 violations but all were minor.
Other notables include two of our favorite Mexican places. Rocco’s Tacos in Town Center Circle had 18 violations with 2 high priority related to hand washing and food temperatures. The food temperatures were only a few degrees off so this one seems a bit picky. Las Fajitas on Dixie Highway had 13 violations including one high priority.
The Grille on Congress and Mario’s Osteria near Whole Foods had 12 violations each. Four of Mario’s violations were high priority related to hand washing, glove use, and food temperatures.
Brewzzi on Glades had 11 violations with two high priority. These also were food temperature issues that were close and look picky on the inspector’s part.
In Mizner Park, Max’s Grill had 6 violations with 4 high priority, including a stop sale for temperature abuse, and a follow-up is required:

Nonfood-grade containers used for food storage – direct contact with food, spray bottle containing oil. **Corrected On-Site** **Warning**
Potentially hazardous (time/temperature control for safety) food cold held at greater than 41 degrees Fahrenheit, butter 55°, garlic and oil 54°pasta station. Corrective action taken. Employee time marked and will discard at 4:00 pm. Sautée station reach in cooler drawers dolphin 49°, salmon 50°, crab 51°, pasta 49°, rice 48°, meatballs 48°. Chef stated food in drawers over 4 hours. **Warning**
Raw animal foods not properly separated from one another based upon minimum required cooking temperature in reach-in cooler, raw beef over raw fish and raw chicken over beef in reach in cooler. **Corrected On-Site** **Warning**
Stop Sale issued on potentially hazardous (time/temperature control for safety) food due to temperature abuse. **Warning**

Also in Mizner Park, Truluck’s had 6 violations including a stop sale on the lobster bisque for “temperature abuse.” This also looks a little picky as the target temperature is 41º and the measured temperature was “42º-47º.”
There’s more in our spreadsheet, below. Readers can look up any restaurant on the Florida restaurant inspections page.
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26 Violations for West Boca Pizza Joint

This is our restaurant inspection report for West Boca (generally west of Military Trail). You can also see our most recent reports for East Boca and Near Boca, as well as our previous West Boca inspection report.
There have been some changes at the Mama’s NYC Pizza in Loggers’ Run Plaza. We had heard there was an ownership change and that’s reflected in a state corporate Sunbiz filing (tiff file) from July. We’ve also heard from readers that the quality changed, though some told us it was better and others said it had gotten worse.
Apparently the restaurant inspector thinks it’s gotten worse. Mama’s NYC was hit with 26 total violations in their October 1 inspection. On the bright side only two of the violations were marked “high priority,” and those aren’t the worst we’ve seen.

Employee failed to wash hands before putting on gloves to work with food.
Raw meat/poultry cold held at greater than 41 degrees Fahrenheit. Veal 52°-56°, raw chicken 53°, chicken wings 52°, egg plant 55° corrective action taken wa[s] to put all items in walk-in cooler

The other violations were minor and some involved paperwork. By comparison the inspection in January under the previous owner had only nine minor violations.
The runner-up for worst inspection was Hong Kong Palace, on Powerline south of Palmetto Park Road (the plaza behind Olive Garden). They had 22 violations including three high priority related to food storage and temperatures.
For the good news portion of this report, twelve places had perfect inspections and three were near-perfect with only one minor violation each. Most notable to us were Bruce’s of Great Neck on the west side of 441; Sybarite Pig in Shadowood Square; and the Sandalfoot Bagel restaurant (1 minor violation).
Perfect Inspections:
Sybarite Pig
Zoey’s Hot Dog (cart and truck)
Brendy’s (Polo Club)
Aunt Adele Empanada’s (new food truck)
Subway (inside the YMCA)
The Oaks Bistro (clubhouse for The Oaks)
Boca Pointe Country Club
And three places inside Woodfield Country Club
Sandalfoot Bagel
Coconut Cove Waterpark
and the Shadowood 16 Theaters
The Subway in Loggers’ Run Plaza did well with only three minor violations (we actually got sandwiches there yesterday). Brendy’s on Clint Moore at Jog had 3 violations with one marked high priority, though it doesn’t seem that bad to us:

Displayed food not properly protected from contamination no overhead protection from uncovered and not inverted ice cream cones.

Mozart Cafe at the west end of Camino Real had 11 violations but all were minor.
In the Polo Club Shoppes, Kagura Sushi had 8 violations with 2 high priority related to food temperatures, and Josef’s Table had 12 violations with 3 high priority related to hand washing and food storage.