Shula's on the beach has closed.
Over the past couple of years I've thought about going to Shula's; their steaks are very expensive and they use one of those private brands that seem like a gimmick to me they claim that their "Premium Black Angus Beef" is trademarked, but Creekstone Farms has a program with the same name, and we confirmed that Creekstone does not supply Shula. Shula's is under the Graham Companies umbrella, which does have their own ranch. They claim that their beef has more criteria than USDA Prime, but Prime is just a grade, so that's somewhat misleading. It's like saying Miss America has more criteria than Miss USA, so Miss America is better. Maybe true if you're looking for a girlfriend, but not if you're just looking for something to ogle.
I noticed the other day that they're now open for lunch, so I figured I had a chance to try the place at a lower price point than a $60 dinner.
They shut down at 2:30 and I got there just after 2pm. I suspect that they'll validate hotel parking, but I parked on the street next to the W Hotel.
One annoyance/oddity is that everyone is sitting out on the patio, but the hostess stand is inside at the hotel entrance. The dining room was set up for dinner and there wasn't a single person there; and the bar was unmanned. So it seems that the patio is really the only choice. They have a bar on the patio, but this was more a tourist/burger kind of crowd.
On a nice day, the view is the big pull.
They have a limited lunch menu and the problem with it is that many of the items I would have tried at dinner are not on it, such as the Wedge Salad and creamed spinach. They have a "pick 3" for $19 which included a sirloin steak, so I figured I'd try that. I wasn't going to order a $43 lunch Filet. Their house salad doesn't sound good at all, so I went with the "sauteed" brocolli.
The Soup came out first.
This is the way french onion soup should be, with a nice blob of cheese on top. It was good, thick gooey cheese. I'm not eating bread, and just my luck, this soup was loaded with bread.
Many versions just put a token amount of bread. I tried to eat around it. It was a very good bowl of soup. While I was eating the soup, they dropped off some bread, which I knew I wasn't going to eat.
But the butter comes in handy for the vegetables, so I didn't tell them to take it away.
Music here is Sinatraesque; think "Birth of the Blues", and James Torme's "Come Back to Me". Service was less than I'd expect here; the hostess asked for my last name, but unlike the Lobster Bar, nobody addressed me as "Mr Lastname". The servers were your typical beach types.
When the steak came out I was a bit surprised. It looked more like something I'd get at Appleby's or a latin restaurant than a top Steakhouse. Bigger than I expected, but a lot thinner also. I loaded up the brocolli with butter from the bread offering.
The steak wasn't very beefy, but after taking the picture I noticed that the little cup had Chimichurri sauce in it, which was quite unexpected.>
Shula's Lunch Sirloin and Broccoli
The chimichurri saved this steak, although it's not usually served with sirloin. If you figure that the soup was worth $6-7, the steak was $12-13, which isn't bad. But at Shula's I expected something better. This didn't measure up to the $8.99 Sirloin that I got at the Outback Steakhouse.
I suspect that Shula's steaks at dinner (or the $43 lunch steak) is better quality than this, but it seems like bad marketing to serve cheap beef at lunch to achieve a lower price point. It doesn't impress the customers to want to come here for dinner, and it leads to possibly misleading reviews.
I haven't been to Shula's for dinner, but I had been there for breakfast before I moved to Fort Lauderdale as a tourist. I saw on their website that they have a breakfast buffet and I wanted to try it out. I rememeber having steak and eggs there, and while it was pretty expensive, it was very good.
When I arrived there were a few tables occupied outside; but no buffet. I thought that perhaps it was inside so I took a look. It appears that the inside isn't used for breakfast as it was completely deserted. Oh well, no buffet. There was no hostess either, so I didn't now if I should just sit down or what. Finally a server appeared and I got a seat with a nice oceanview.
The second disappointment was the menu itself (we have it here). First of all, there is no steak and eggs. This seems ridiculous to me; a steakhouse with no steak at all? Also, everything is ala carte. They don't have "2 eggs and sausage"; you have to either get a big sampler for $16 or you have to order each item separately, which would cost about the same. I ordered the sampler which is 2 eggs and 1 of just about everything; I got toast instead of pancakes. I asked for rye toast and the waiter didn't say a word; more about this later.
Coffee is $3 but they do give you a big pot so you don't have to worry about not having enough. Service is not snappy; after about 20 minutes the food shows up.
Its certainly not a hungry man meal but its enough for breakfast. It was at this time that I realized I didn't get rye bread but white bread. I no longer had the menu so I couldn't check, but I just assumed that he messed up. When I looked at the menu later I see that they don't offer rye bread. It would have been nice if the server filled me in rather than just choosing white bread on my behalf. Do you think this setup is worth $19? You make the call.
The food was as expected; nothing bad and nothing spectacular. The view certainly was nice and the weather was great as well. The server dropped off my check at about 10:50am while I was about half done eating. At 10:58 I slide my credit card into the holder and pushed the check to the end of the table so the CC was visible.
At 11:07 I asked a busser to tell the server that I was waiting for him to pick up my check. He smiled politely and cleared the table. At 11:15 my parking meter was about to expire and I dropped $21. on the table and headed out. Unattentive servers deserve to get stiffed on the tip.
In summary, Shula's gouges tourists as do most of the hotels on the beach. That's fine as spending an extra few bucks when you're on vacation is expected. But for a high price you should at least get good service. I didn't notice any sign of that here.
Note that most times in the morning or during the day you can find metered street parking on Bayshore drive. Bring quarters.