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Stellar, Showy Symcha's; Likeable Lulu

Victoria Pesce Elliott calls South of Fifth restaurant Symcha's a "casually elegant 3-month-old," where "the prices are as high as any around town, but the food is worth it." Chef Joshua Wahler formerly of NYC's Gramercy Tavern and Spice Market "melds steakhouse, New American and Asian influences in a cooking style that's creative, precise and consistenly delicious, if sometimes a bit showy." There's a huge list of "What Worked," including "pricey though admittedly delectable 'sword toro,'" "a perky, classic Caesar," Scottish salmon with "shatteringly crisp" skin," and "attentive and well put together, although occassionally pushy" servers. Bottom line: 3 and a half stars. []

Lee Klein visits Coconut Grove cafe Lulu, "a hospitable stop where friends can gather and enjoy themselves over affordable wines and a smart selection of popular bites." He also calls it "a younger, hipper — dare we say artsier? — version" of its sibling, Green Street Cafe. And despite the "thumping music" that he hopes will change, Klein praises the menu as " a savvy compilation of 18 small plates, sandwiches, six salads, five burgers, and a half-dozen entrées." There was lots he liked, like the bacon wrapped dates that "practically explode with contrasting flavors," and the burger, which was "delicious," though due to the lathering of garnishes, "many foods here are difficult to lift without dripping." Fries are "excellent--very skinny and apparently twice-fried for an assertive crispiness." As for the entrees, they "are not nearly as fetching as the appetizers." It matters not, though, as the owners of Lulu "appear content to let others do the gastronomic trailblazing and instead concentrate on providing fresh, crisply executed renditions of likeable foods, affordable drinks, and a neighborly café setting in which to enjoy them. We're quite content with that too.." [MNT]