Shari Lynn RothStein-Kramer….
Aventura is a tough place to make it in the restaurant business– that is common knowledge. People are particular about what they want, and may give a place a second chance, but if an eatery gets it wrong more than once, they’re out!
Such was the case with the nowdeceased Water Club. There was so much hype around the eatery that unless it was incredible – it never really had a chance. Unfortunately, it fell short…way short. But let’s not talk about failed ventures; let’s go for hopeful, as in Duffy’s Sports Grill, the new restaurant that now resides in the enormous space.
I visited Duffy’s a mere five days after it first opened in its North Miami Beach location. Part of a “chain” (there were about two dozen Duffy’s Sports Grills in Florida at the time of this writing), the space that was once mod and trendy had been converted into that ubiquitous “sports bar” feel – green walls, wood, tons of TV’s…you know the type. But here, it is indoors, outdoors, and on the water. The space, which is HUGE, offers guests a plethora of options – you can eat inside in the “upper area”, in the main dining room, outdoors on the “deck” (which is mere steps from the water) or at the outdoor bar area, which sits next to a pool. Guests are encouraged to wear bathing suits and sip and swim. Oh, and there’s plenty to eat. (But remember; wait at least 15 minutes before going in the water after eating – just kidding.)
So let’s talk food. It is not hard to cook sports bar food – burgers, fries, appetizers… ah, but to make it well is another story. There is a nice selection at Duffy’s. Don’t get me wrong – it is fairly typical, but it is also good. So it is comforting to know that there is a restaurant that offers a familiar menu with tasty food at reasonable prices in the neighborhood. Classic appetizers include spinach-artichoke dip, loaded potato skins, crispy calamari…you get the drift. All good enough to eat. Naturally, there are all kinds of burgers, wigs, “From the Grill”, salads, sandwiches, seafood, pasta, and the like. It is a super-kid friendly menu (as a matter of fact, there’s a special kids menu where little ones can mix-nmatch meal and make their own sundaes. Nice.)
The atmosphere itself works. It is a casual place that is easy to hang in. Everyone is friendly (actually, overly friendly if you ask me) but it makes sense. There’s a lot of space to fill and the best way to fill it is with good customer service, good food, oh, and drink specials. Of which there are plenty. There’s a monthly special, daily specials, beer special, $4 Stoli cocktails, and then there is Happy Hour, when everything is 2-for-1. Who wouldn’t want to hang there?!
What I neglected to stress so far was the 800 big screen TV’s hanging generously… everywhere. (Okay, so there are not really 800 TVs, but there are a lot, so getting your favorite game, be it tennis, golf, WWE, baseball or NASCAR should never be a problem.) There is an air of freedom, it is light and easy to be there, and that is cool. It is a place where casual reigns. So overall, while I am never fond of chains, I believe that I will be back to Duffy’s again. Why? It is a “Cheers-like” place. One that you can call your own. A place that you can eat at a table or belly up to the bar, and it will be consistent. The food is more than decent, and the attitudes are awesome. That’s enough to get me back.
Duffy’s is open every day of the week for your watching and dining pleasure.
Shari Lynn Rothstein has been writing about food, wine, lifestyles and fashion for more than 20 years, in New York and Florida. She resides in Aventura. Shari can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org for comments, questions thoughts.