I found myself in Deerfield Beach at 3:30 when I discovered that my destination closes at 3pm; so I needed a plan B. A lot of places open at 4, so I started thinking out of the lunch box, so to speak. Then I remembered Chef Dooley.jump-->
Perhaps one of them most mysterious restaurants in Broward County, They have no website, facebook page, no listing on menupages; no presence on the internet at all. It was on the way home from where I was, so it was time to try it.
From the outside, you simply have no idea even what kind of cuisine it is. It's just a storefront in a small Publix anchored center. Inside, the decor is intense; 'old world' complete with glass-topped tables and thick green tablecloths.
Chef Dooley Interior
The hostess is the waitress; I grab a seat and get a menu. It's early bird from 4-5pm, so you get an appetizer or salad, soup, entree, coffee and dessert for the entree price. It may be dinner for them, but it's a late lunch for me; I'm still drinking Iced Tea.
Chef Dooley Ice Tea
You get ice water also; this is old world stuff. I could have gone for some fish, but they only have Tilapia. So I went with Chicken Francese. The first course was soup; They had Minestrone or Yellow Pea; I wasn't feeling adventurous and went with the minestrone. It came out seconds after the iced tea.>
Chef Dooley Minestrone Soup
A good portion, the soup was bland and uninspiring. Mostly carrots and celery, I ate some of it but left more than half. I had a lot of food coming. As I was eating the soup I was surprised there was no bread; this seemed like the kind of place that you'd get bread. I was finished with the soup and a second server brought out the bread.
Chef Dooley Bread
There were 2 slices of not fresh store quality Italian bread, which came with frozen butter. The bread was luke warm; I tried to get it to work, but after a taste of the bread I decided it wasn't worth the effort. As I was fumbling with it, but salad was delivered.
Chef Dooley Caesar Salad
They have sawdust on the table and also on the salad; you never got freshly grated cheese back in the day. But the salad was very good. Just enough dressing, no anchovies, good crisp lettuce. This is what you get at a good italian restaurant.
One thing about the place is that it's just one room and there's apparently no place for the servers and managers to be in the back, so they are omnipresent. When you're the only person in a restaurant it's not ideal. Music is old world also: "Libera" , "Non Ho L'eta" and "LIbera L'anima" fill the air.
The chicken came out shortly thereafter.>
Chef Dooley Chicken Francese
2 deftly prepared cutlets with a lemony sauce; you can get this with pasta or broccoli and I went with the low-carb version. It was badly in need of salt; this is a low sodium establishment. The extra sauce they gave me worked well as a dipping sauce for the broccoli. The chicken was good, but the sauce could have been more lemony and seasoned better.
Time for Dessert. Unlike some Early Birds, the entire menu is on the table. I went with the Flour-less chocolate espresso cake and regular coffee.
Chef Dooley Dessert Service
The coffee was pretty good, which is a massive complement considering what I've been getting at restaurants these days. But the clear star of the evening was the cake; Dense, sweet, addictive; I wouldn't want to have one of these babies in my house.
Chef Dooley Chocolate Espresso Cake
Don't miss this cake.
I was here about an hour, and not one other customer came in. Someone did call for reservations, which I thought was pretty humorous. "We're not that busy", the girl told her.
The damage for all of this: $19.02 including tax. A crazy good deal, and a lot better restaurant than you'd expect based on the location or how the place looks from the outside.