Pointe’ing the Way to ‘Forte’
By Hal de Becker
This isn’t a restaurant review.I’m not a restaurant reviewer.Fouettes and jetes I know something about; souffles I don’t.But on rare occasions I discover a new local eatery where the food is so good, the prices so fair, and the ambience so warm and welcoming that, full of enthusiasm but empty of expertise, I’m moved to write a few words about it from my heart. Well, from my stomach, anyway.
‘Tapas Forte European’ opened just five months ago and is located in the shopping center at West Flamingo and Rainbow.It’s easy to spot by the outdoor patio in front with European-style umbrellas over each table. The owner is a pretty young lady named “Nina” and every aspect of ‘Forte’, from the menu to the décor to the Gypsy violins and the jazz group that entertain some nights, is her creation.
She uses the word “tapas” in the name to reflect the medley of varied dishes, large and small, that ‘Forte’ offers from Bulgaria, Hungry, Spain, Russia and elsewhere. The extensive wine list is equally eclectic and, unlike some other restaurants, ‘Forte’ actually serves good wines, reasonably priced, by the glass.
A few nights ago, my guest and I each had a main course;shared a huge Greek salad covered with feta cheese; couldn’t resist two bowls of lentil soup; enjoyed ample wine; and with desert and café lattes the bill came to less than $50.And, as always, everything was excellent.Incidentally, I have paid for all my meals there.
I’m not sure why, but my first impressions of ‘Forte’ made me think of when I lived in Europe and frequented bistros, pubs, gasthaus’ and trattorias.I was even reminded of what I’d heard and read about bohemian Berlin in the 1920’s and early 30’s -- shades of Isherwood, Marlene and Blue Angels.
Maybe it was the different languages and accents that pervaded the surroundings. Or, perhaps, the table of older men playing cards and drinking coffee while other, younger patrons, lined the bar with its array of libations from around the world some of them bearing exotic, unfamiliar names. It might have been the foreign posters or the tables and chairs that didn’t quite match or the paintings hanging on the walls as well as the ones painted directly on the walls.
Whatever it is that accounts for ‘Forte’s’ special charm it’s not anything contrived.Tapas Forte European is uniquely ‘itself’.