I used to stop in at Timpano a few times a week as I live nearby; I hadn't been there in at least 6 months.The reason is that there's little reason to go in. I used to complain that having Jimmy Cavallo every Friday and Saturday was a mistake; now they have the same guy on weekends who is there all week. They have music but no music program; it's just the SOS every single day. I have to admit; I actually miss Jimmy Cavallo.
The new owners completely missed the boat; there was a tremendous opportunity to drop the tired "Starlight Lounge" concept in favor of something that suited the younger, hipper Las Olas Scene. The result: Timpano has regressed, and the Royal Pig is hopping every night.
Sporting token TVs from the 90s; the bar is dark, dreary and the least engaging scene on the street. When I'm looking to mingle or just in the mood to engage other people; this would be my last choice in the area, with Cheesecake Factory a close second.
Timpano Bar Area
I'd never had lunch at Timpano, mainly because the place seems closed after 2:15pm. Today was no different; at 2:30 there was no hostess, no bartender and the entire restaurant was empty. I asked for a booth, quipping "You're not expecting a big crowd, are you?". The booths are big here, so the chances of getting one during regular lunch or dinner hours is unlikely.
Timpano Dining Room
The new owners, Tavistock Group, quickly gutted the lunch menu of everything affordable. They've replaced their very nifty "Rat Pack Lunch Boxes" with a $15 "Trio", which includes a starch option with no desserts. The Rat Packs were 4 mini courses that were just great for lunch:
Timpano's Sammy Davis
The "Sammy Davis" Lunch Box was $12. There isn't 1 item on their lunch menu that I'd consider a good addition; what the owners did was "trade down" by using cheaper ingredients or eliminating lower priced choices altogether. They had a terrific panini menu that's been replaced with inferior choices for sandwiches. I went for the "Prime" Sirloin, which has about has much chance of being USDA Prime as I have of landing a date with Carmen Electra. The steak is $17 and is purported to include peperonata, which is a "pepper stew"; usually just sauteed peppers and onions.
The music here is Straight Sinatra. While I was waiting a group of unsuspecting tourists arrived. They said the same thing I did when I walked in "Are you Open"?. They seemed surprised to see 1 person in the dining room.
The Food came out in about 15 minutes. No Bread at Timpano's, which is unusual for a supposedly high end restaurant.
Timpano Sirloin Lunch
Visually, this was disappointed in two respects. First, peperonata does NOT include Arugula. The Arugula transformed what might be a veritable companion for the steak into a bad salad. I'm not sure how the pickled cherry peppers fit in; they were cold and didn't really go with anything here. The steak was more rare than I like it; there's much debate over what medium rare is, but when it's purple it's too rare for me.
I ate the salad, which had no dressing, only because it provided some fiber. The steak was "eh"; not particularly beefy (which is the point of a cut like sirloin), no seasoning and not what I would consider "char grilled", as advertised. If you'd like to see my idea of a char grilled, medium rare sirloin, here it is:
So what we have here is another "high end" restaurant that can't compete with Outback's $8.99 Sirloin, which by the way comes with your choice of side (no arugula); and bread.
Another restaurant on Las Olas where I leave feeling like I've been nickel and dimed. It's really just too bad that they continue trying to prop up this aging concept with a menu that just isn't very impressive.
If you haven't been to Timpano in a while; you'll barely recognize it. Unfortunately, the changes are largely negative.
Two years ago, Timpano's owners, E-Brands, were in bankruptcy. For a period of time, nobody knew if the place would survive. The Samba Room, also owned by E-Brands, had closed. Things were so bad that they stopped ordering matches.
When Tavistock Group purchased the Timpano brand, there was great hope. The deep pockets ownership group owned the ritzy Zed451 in Mizner Plaza. They took the space next door, and there was much speculation about transforming the dark, dated bar area into a local hot spot. But when they were done, the bar remained exactly the same.
The only change they made that was visible to regular diners was that they expanded the lounge a few feet, which moved the live music a little further from the bar. The lounge is decorated with cheap fixtures and the kind of paintings you might find at Target. They also moved all of the upholstered chairs out of the bar area, so the bar area is all regular tables and chairs now.
The only thing that wasn't wrong with Timpano was the menu. So the first thing the new owners did was change the menu. There was great confusion at first; they introduced a lounge menu with many items similar to the dinner menu, but at different prices. The servers didn't even know what was going on; they just gave customers the dinner menu.
After that, they revamped the menus altogether, removing most of the great signature dishes that made eating at Timpano worthwhile. Aside from the mussels, every one of my favorites has been removed. The Tuna Carpaccio, Spinach Formaggio, the bone-in filet and the fantastic Short Rib, all gone from the menu. Adding insult to injury, they replaced the Short Rib with "Osso Bucco", except they use a pork shank instead of veal. Cheap Junk.
The menu transformation is equivalent to someone taking over McDonald's and replacing the Big Mac with a double angus burger. Just a flippin' shame.
Timpano's Short Rib with Parmesan Risotto (off the menu)
So far, every new dish I've tried has been disappointing at best, and certainly not as good as the items it replaced. Appetizers are a disaster; the meatballs were insulting; 3 small bland-tasting balls; the tuscan egg weird at best, and the deconstructed bruschetta just a bad idea in general.
Timpano's Meatballs Appetizers
The vegetarian Wild Mushroom Pasta now has veal in it; veggies are stuck with Eggplant Rollatini or Spaghetti and sauce
So my only option at Timpano now are the sizzling mussels; still a veritable offering for $12.
Timpano Black Skillet Mussels
Other changes are that Chef John Davis is gone; his replacement, Curtis Hawk, has also left to run the kitchen at Zed451 in Chicago. A sous chef has been promoted.
Service at Timpano's seems lackadaisical, they could use some fresh blood with more positive attitudes. Regulars get good service, but I've had more than 1 person tell me that they feel ignored at the bar here. At closing time approaches, they seem much more interested in going home than serving customers; which explains the emptiness after 9 during the week.
Timpano continues to have to have no real "scene"; the lounge/bar area here is an eat and run proposition. Jimmy Cavallo no longer plays on weekends, and the last time I was in they had the same band that plays Tuesday to Thursday. The place is pretty crowded until 10pm, but late night it's usually dead. Even during happy hour, the mingle factor is very low here. It's just not the place you go to meet anyone.
Sadly, Timpano is what it is. And it's not anywhere near as good as it used to be.
Happy Hour Review 9/30/12
Before the new owners took over, Timpano had a decent but misguided happy hour; with only their cheapest wines discounted (wines $7 or less per glass), the dreaded "select" liquor and beer, and they had a $5 'chefs' menu, which was a special menu just for happy hour. I'm not a fan of the special menus, because they usually give you a smaller portion, so they're often not such a great deal. A tiny crabcake for $5 doesn't make me want to leave the condo earlier than usual. But in Timpano's case, they had some pretty good stuff. The beef carpaccio used to be a favorite; with a Hogue Cabernet, for under $10 it was a pretty nice deal.
Timpano Beef Carpaccio (pre-2011)
I liked their beef carpaccio, not as good as their Tuna Carpaccio, but good for $5.; I really liked the flatbreads that they gave with their carpaccios as well.
One of the first changes made by the new ownership was to eliminate the Chef's menu, leaving them with the worst excuse for a happy hour in town. I guess it wasn't working out too well, because they recently announced that their appetizers; the entire lounge menu, are now offered for half price during happy hour in the lounge.
Now you old-time Timpano goers, the bad news is that many of the old favorites are gone from the new menu. No more Tuna Carpaccio or Spinach Formaggio; and the crab cakes aren't on the lounge menu. The good news is that you can get the Mussels for half price.
Timpano Spinach Formaggio (off the menu)
I stopped in for happy hour and got a seat at the bar; Service has become strange here; didn't mention anything about happy hour to me; there's no post card or anything telling you what the happy hour deal was. They just asked what I wanted. I had to ask what wines were available, and then I asked about food "Oh yeah, all the apps are half price". It seemed that they don't want to tell people who just wander in, or who don't know.
They don't have the Hogue Cab anymore; it was cheap and pretty light and benign; they have some special cab that I couldn't find on their wine list. I didn't like it. The beef carpaccio, which is bigger than the previous Chef Menu version, is $7 and served with an arugula salad.
Timpano Beef Carpaccio (2012)
It's a lot bigger than the old Chef's Menu version; and certainly a good deal for $7. They call the drizzle a "whole grain mustard sauce", but it's not very mustardy. I'm not a big fan of steak salads; I liked their old version a lot better. I also liked the flat breads better than the bread they give you with this now. And as if there isn't enough protein and cholesterol in beef, there's an egg; what modern dish doesn't have an egg and arugula?
If Timpano had done this half price thing with their old menu they'd be the biggest thing on the street, despite the fact that it's the only place that you can't get a deal on what you actually want to drink. But if you're in the mood for Mussels; you can't do better than Timpano mussels for $6.
Happy hour is M-F 4pm-7pm. See the Happy Hour link for info on other Happy Hour deals in Fort Lauderdale
Timpano Happy Hour now with 1/2 Price Apps (09/30/2012)
Timpano is being Ruined by Tavistock (07/15/2012)
Timpano Expanding (05/06/2012)
Tavistock Buys Timpano (03/01/2011)
Timpano Happy Hour Misses the Mark , (10/25/2010)