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Under the watchful eye of a serene manatee sculpture hovering overhead, diners will discover a menu full of both familiar and exotic selections. A signature soup, Alligator Bay Chowder, is similar to a Manhattan-style clam chowder, full of tomatoes and spices, but native gator replaces the clams. Caribbean Crab cakes are some of the best ever, featuring lump crabmeat and only enough breading to keep them from falling apart. Served atop a sweet but spicy watermelon casabal marmalade, they rise a step above the crab cakes found in so many restaurants.

Salads include Everglades Garden Greens with wild flowers, sunflower seeds, jicama and pistachio vinaigrette. Cape Sable Salad features Heirloom tomatoes topped with arugula, gorgonzola, cinnamon roasted pecans, and truffle vinaigrette. Our George Barley Salad is tossed table-side with mixed greens, cashews and grilled pineapple. Are all light, refreshing and a welcome departure from the usual Caesar.

But it is the entree offerings at Everglades that really set it apart. Tenderloin of Buffalo is featured along with the more familiar offerings of steak, chicken and seafood.

We spent a lot of time researching this menu. Mr. Rosen wanted to go in a direction that included wild game. So we basically had a test kitchen going while developing the menu.

The Buffalo, like most of the game offerings on the menu, is farm-raised and therefore does not have a strong “gamey” flavor. Our filet of buffalo with peppercorn crust
is served with sliced baked sweet potato and blueberry onion jam complemented with blueberry-balsamic sauce; the Buffalo Tenderloin is like an extra-large, succulent beef filet.
And how does the exotic fare go over with diners? Our guest love it. We get nothing but good feedback on the game offerings. I attribute this to many things. A more savvy clientele who is tired of seeing the same menu, and the explosion of quality farm-raised game available in this country help, as do a repeat clientele who come to the Everglades specifically to have the game offerings.

And there are advantages to being located in the hotel. Unlike many freestanding restaurants that do not have a pastry chef aboard, the Everglades takes advantage of the Rosen Centre’s extensive kitchen staff to create luscious desserts. The Pecan Tuille is a must-have, featuring a nutty caramel cookie over-filled with a sweet mascarpone cheese mixture and surrounded by fresh berries and chocolate sauce. The Chocolate Marquise and Key Lime Pie are also standouts.

There are many reasons to visit the Everglades Restaurant in the Rosen Centre Hotel. A dedication to excellence, exotic gourmet menu offerings, a beautiful restaurant. Tucked into a hotel on International Drive, it’s well worth venturing into the wilderness to experience the Everglades.