Believe it or not, the New Shooters has been open for over a year now. Time sure flies when it's sunny and warm every day. Today it was 81 and Sunny; a downright perfect day for outside dining. One thing you learn after being down here for a while is that it's going to get real hot in a few weeks, so you need to take advantage of the low 80s weather while it lasts.
I was running very late; I punched in at my parking spot at 2:58. $1.25/hr in the garage across the street. They have a "free" valet", but it's not worth waiting for my car and tipping the guy $2 to save the short walk from the empty garage.
It was pretty busy for 3pm on a Tuesday; I didn't want to sit at a high top or at the bar, so I asked for a table on the patio.
As mentioned in my previous review, this place has just gotten a facelift. The bar still has the same sun problem in the afternoon; sunglasses are required to watch the late football games here.
Luckily there was 1 table available outside. I didn't expect to have a problem at this hour. What a beautiful day.
View from Shooter's Patio
I ordered an iced tea and began to contemplate the menu. The prices are pretty high; they have a few more items that they did when they first opened. If you haven't noticed I'm doing a serious low-carb thing, so no sandwiches or flatbreads for me. I'm not paying $23 for a $4 piece of salmon ; or $22 for a "steak" salad. Cobbs and Wedges work well on the diet; I figured I'd try the wedge if they could leave out the apples; and I was going to take a chance on the NE clam chowder. If they don't load it up with flour and I pick out the potatoes it's not too bad.
The tea came out with an extra wedge; they're not trying too hard with their $3 glass of colored water. At least it looked like tea this time.
Shooter's Iced Tea
I was sitting right in front of the newly decorated bar-level room, which is probably the nicest spot in the restaurant to dine in terms of open air ambiance.
Shooter's Bar Level Dining Room
The soup came out right away; I ordered a cup which is $6.
Shooters Clam Chowder
A nice tasting soup; they didn't load it up with flour to thicken is so it didn't kill my diet. There was an undue amount of bacon in the soup; typically NE Clam Chowder is flavored with bacon fat but you don't leave all of the bacon in the soup; maybe a bit as a garnish. This was a cup of bacon and clams.
Shooters Clam Chowder
I like bacon so it wasn't a big deal. Not a lot of clams but a decent soup.
I had to wait longer than expected for the salad; 15 minutes. The place was thinning out; a very serene place for a late lunch.
Shooters Outside Patio
Finally a runner brought out the salad; I'd asked for extra dressing. $12 is no bargain for a wedge, but there was no scrimping on the bacon or blue cheese. This was a lot of food.
Shooter's Wedge Salad (no apples)
Another wedge without onions; The lettuce had some brown spots but overall it was a very filling salad; in fact I didn't even finish it. Forks full of bacon and blue cheese.
I was about 1/2 done when the water taxi pulled up; not the little tin can one, but the big monster taxi. The place went from tranquil to being like a Chinese wedding in a heartbeat.
The Water Taxi at Shooters
I'd only put $1 in the meter so my parking was running out; I was afraid they'd get busy and it would take a while to cash out, so I asked my server for my check. He brought the check, but didn't pick up the card for 10 minutes. I was hoping that the Parking Police wouldn't be too efficient, as I wasn't going to make it back in time.
5 minutes expired but no ticket. That could have ruined my day.
Compared to other restaurants in Fort Lauderdale, Shooter's is competent with decent food at waterfront dining prices. It's worth paying the extra price for a unique ambiance, particularly on a perfect, sunny afternoon.
As everyone who lives in this town knows by now; Shooters Waterfront Cafe is under new ownership. The people that owned Grateful Palate; the yacht provisioners who also ran a restaurant, bought the property and gave it a massive facelift. Therein lies the problem in more ways than one; the ghosts of the past remain, and in many ways it doesn't feel any different than the old Shooters.
The first thing you need to know is that this isn't your Father's Shooters. If you haven't been to Fort Lauderdale in 10 years and you're looking for a party spot with a hot body contest, you won't find it here. Bootleggers, which was the part of the property where the contests were held, has been replaced with a special events venue that acts as additional seating for the restaurant when no events are in progress. The pool is gone; there are no more Bikinis at Shooters.
Grateful Palate Events (formerly Bootlegger)
If there is one word to describe the new Shooters, It would be "Beige". Everything is beige and gray; a polar opposite to the colorful motif of FlipFlops next door. Old furniture has been replaced with new beige furniture, but the layout remains the same.
Shooters Covered Patio
The area between Shooters and the old Bootleggers has been cleaned up and serves as a covered patio. There's also a bar; an idea that Shooters toyed with at one point. It still doesn't provide the kind of outdoor experience as a Paddy McGees in Island Park, NY; one of the cooler places to go with a boat.
Shooters Outdoors New Decor
Inside has been fancied up, but somehow feels the same. They didn't solve the TV glare problem; you still can't see the TVs if the sun is out.
They did restructure the dining area on the bar level to make it feel more like 1 big space, but by and large, it's just more beige to me.
Shooters Bar Level Dining Room
Another issue is that the servers are recognizable as ex-Shooters folk, which just adds to the Beige makeover conspiracy theory. My server was the dude who used to work the bar. I got a menu and ordered an Iced Tea with extra lemon. The tea took way too long to arrive, and was delivered without extra lemon. I had to go to the bar and ask them for lemons.
Shooters Iced Tea
The tea was very weak; barely more tasty than ice water. It served as a no-calorie beverage nonetheless.
I'll take this opportunity to try to describe how much I hate their menu here. Another typical Fort Lauderdale menu where you can hear some yacht chef in the kitchen proclaiming "Look at me, I am a chef!". The lack of solid food on the menu is staggering. I hate Tartare's; we have both tuna and salmon as choices. None of the salads were acceptable; a caesar made with Kale and Gran Padano, a Cobb with beets, and Fish and "Chips" that comes with potato salad instead of fries. Can't you just get a steak or a grilled chicken sandwich anywhere in this stupid town? They also don't have one "healthy" vegetable; I suppose you could order the asparagus without the cheese and caesar dressing. How about a light lemon/butter sauce? For the record, Kale tastes like crap, and people who eat it are the kind of delusional sheep that made gauchos popular in the 70s.
The soup of the day was some sort of Mahi Chowder, so instead of blowing $30 on a short rib I decided to go small; ordering a bowl of the soup and a 1/2 dozen clams. I told my server I didn't care what order they were delivered; the soup came out first.
Shooter's Fish Special Soup
A decent portion for $7, particularly considering that it was loaded with fish. Take out the fish and make a cake out of it and this is $18. The broth was flavorful; more like a bisque than a chowder, but it was under seasoned. One of my problems with Mahi is that it's completely tasteless, so if not properly seasoned it just brings down the entire dish. Attempts to season with the available shakers proved to be an exercise in futility.>
Shooter's Salt and Pepper Shakers
The one with two holes was salt; 2 salt granule sized holes in an outdoor venue in South Florida? Clearly this is the work of a designer and not someone familiar with running a restaurant.
Music attempts to provide an "island" ambience; Bob Marley and Prince Jazzbo fill the air. The clams came out just as I was finishing up the soup.
My server asked if I wanted extra horseradish; I declined, which was a mistake. Tabasco is terrible on clams, and the cocktail sauce was a weak offering that leaned more towards straight ketchup than the hoped-for spicy condiment. The clams were very good; with a clean, quality shucking and big, plump clams. My server kept emphasizing that their fish was "local", which doesn't impress me. I'd rather have good fish from Maine than mushy warm water junk from the Gulf. But these clams were well worth the $7; not like the tiny ones you get at 15th Street Fisheries or Southport.
It took way too long to get the check, and I got to sit there with an empty glass; a refill was never offered by my server.
My overall impression of the place is "eh". I think that they made the same mistake that Rare and Grille 401 made; by keeping the place the same and freshening the decor; it just looks like a makeover. I'm wondering why they decided to keep the name, which just adds to the feeling. Perhaps they were trying to capitalize on the Brand; but the brand is different. This isn't the Shooters that was THE place to be 20 years ago. And they haven't done anything to make it into the kind of place that people will pack on a Sunday Afternoon, unless you own a big yacht and you're too cool to be seen at Bokamper's.
The food is better than the Original Shooters, but this will not be a dining destination. At most, it will kill the Chart House; it's a better property and now is more attractive to the kind of higher end clientele that would have chosen Chart House over Shooters previously. Although frankly, the Chart House has a much better menu.
On the positive side, they've adopted the Tarpon Bend happy hour MO; It's 2 for 1 where you get a token that can be used on another day; so if you only feel like 1 (or 3), you don't have to drink more to get the deal.
Shooters draws a $5.3 Million Bid (12/18/2012)
La Playa is gone, Bootlegger is back (09/10/2010)