Updated
Mar 5th, 2019
First Posted
Jun 22nd, 2018

Etaru Las Olas

500 E Las Olas
Fort Lauderdale FL, 33301
954 477-8068
Overall Rating
2.8
Food
Service
Ambiance
Value
Last Review
03/05/2019

Details

Hours: 11:30-3p, 5:30-11p
Parking: Street Metered
CC: Yes
Alcohol: Full Bar
HasWifi: Yes
Wifi password: iloveetaruLO
Outdoor: Not Yet

Pros

Handsome restaurant
Good Quality Food
Friendly Service

Cons

Weak Lunch Menu
Difficult Parking
Too Expensive

Critic's Review

Etaru will be discontinuing their lunch service on March 8, so I thought I'd check them out for one last time. I'd been here when they first opened; at the time their sole lunch special was a couple of choices for $25. Another vendor that fell for the Las Olas propaganda. They have a few other choices now at lower prices.

I walked in at 2:15p to what seemed like a completely empty restaurant; I thought the dude with headphones was an employee but he turned out to be a customer; so not completely empty. I got my usual seat about 4 tables in.

A nice view of the moat and sidewalk. It looked like rain so eating outside wasn't an option.

A runner dude took my iced tea order and it came out in a couple of minutes. I ordered one of the combos and asked for a straw for my tea. No forks or straws unless you ask at Etaru.

She apologized for not having a straw long enough for the tall glass. Nice planning people.

I asked if they had anything other than the miso soup, which appears on every single one of the combos. Chicken Broth? Hot Water? Anything but the Miso. At first she said no, then she said they might give me fries or a salad. "A salad would be great", I said.

After some negotiating she landed me a "green bowl", which is Japanese for salad. The salad came out first.

Man, is this better than Miso soup. This is probably $8 ala carte in this place. About halfway through the salad she brought out the vegetable dumplings; the 2nd course in the $17 combo.

I expected maybe 2 dumplings, like the dopey mini-appetizer I got last week as Sky Thai Sushi

There wasn't much inside, but they had some sort of a soy sauce potsticker crust going on that was pretty good.

Halfway through the dumplings she brought out the Yakisoba; "Now for the good stuff", she said. From the looks of it I wasn't thinking the same thing. The initial presentation picture got lost somehow; there was a burned fried egg on top; I'd already broken the egg before I realized the photo was gone. you can't unbreak the egg, as they say. It was at this point I realized I didn't have a fork; I wasn't going to try to eat a fried egg with chopsticks, even in a completely empty restaurant.

While the menu calls this vegetable yakisoba, I expected this to be loaded with vegetables, usually cabbage and green onions; not a couple of snow peas and a few chards of red onion. Plus the noodles looked mushy; this is supposed to be a fried noodle dish.

They didn't even bother to trim the snow peas. This dish was very disappointing; it's cheap enough to leave out the pork, but to leave out the vegetables is absurd. Plus the sauce wasn't very good; Im surprised I got this Pei Wei quality dish in this restaurant.

Music in the place is so bizarre that even Shazam can't figure out what it is. They probably didn't want to pay the ASCAP fees.

I was just about to ask for my check when she asked if I wanted a refill on my iced tea; nice save, Babe.

Conclusion

So who stops serving lunch on March 8 in Fort Lauderdale; where March is the busiest tourist month of the year? Etaru does. It's a very curious decision. What it tells me is that they're not even drawing customers in season. What's going to happen to this place in the off-season? The entire pull of this location is that it's close to all of the businesses for lunch.

While I appreciate that they swapped out the soup for me, the place just seems to be very poorly managed. How can you not have straws that fit your glasses after being open 9 months? No forks on the table; you can't expect 75yo Americans living in Fort Lauderdale to not need a fork at all. And while they realized that their initial $25 lunch "special" was way too high, they're still not competitive with their lowest offering now at $17.

The Truth is that with DelFrisco's now open and Tuscan Prime coming soon, there are just too many restaurants downtown. When you add 1000 seats without really any new businesses; you're going to have a lot of empty restaurants.

Just wait until season is over.

Review 7/9/18

My portfolio was ripping this morning so I decided to splurge and check out Etaru. They have a weak, expensive Lunch menu but I could go for a skirt steak. Most non-latin places charge $20 for a skirt so their $25 "Express Lunch" isn't completely out of bounds. Plus I'd save $2 on parking since I live 100 yards away.

They have a lot of tables outside; I was trying to figure out how this place could have 242 seats; they must have 100 outside. The outside isn't open yet, so don't plan on dining outdoors if you come here for the time being.

I walked into the restaurant at 2:02pm and there were 2 customers in the restaurant. That's what happens when you have a $25 lunch special.

I was seated pretty close to the front of the restaurant; the hostess pulled a chair out that would have had me facing the only 2 other people in the restaurant. I opted to sit on the other side.

My server went into a long introduction about the restaurant, telling me a bunch of stuff I already knew; do people really just wander into restaurants in 2018? I let her do her thing, then asked if they had iced tea. They do not, so I just asked for ice water. No sense paying $8 for sparkling water that I don't want. I also ordered the express Robata lunch with the skirt steak medium rare. Simple.

There's a little moat around the restaurant; a nice fountain but no fish or ducks.

Music here is low-key lounge music, with Dream Koala and Art of Shades filling the air.

A runner brought out my salad. I didn't actually know I was getting a salad. The menu says "Green Beans and Asparagus with lime dressing"; I thought it was a vegetable dish. I also expected green beans; not edamame.

The soup also came out at the same time. Were they supposed to be served together?

The runner asked if I wanted a spoon with the soup, pointing out the traditional Japanese would drink it right out of the bowl. You're in Fort Lauderdale dude, get me a spoon.

The salad was ok as a random vegetable; the chili-lime dressing was edible; better than the usual ginger dressing most places serve. I'd still rather have Italian or blue cheese or a vinaigrette.

I thought maybe Miso soup at a higher end restaurant might be better than the stuff you get at the sushi joint, but I couldn't eat this. Dishwater with scallions. Yuck on the Miso soup.

So before I'm finished with the salad the steak comes out. No pacing here. The steak and fries are served without any offer of condiments (only Soy Sauce is on the table). My server asks if I want utensils, and when I say yes, she takes my bowl with the chopsticks. I have to ask for salt and ketchup. I thought I'd eat the steak with chopsticks, but I needed a knife to cut it.

The steak was a nice, tender piece of meat, enhanced by the course salt and "chimichurri". It wasn't really chimichurri, but it worked with the steak. "Robata" is a charcoal grill; the steak had a bit of charcoal broiled flavor. It was a bit under-done; medium rare is not raw in the middle. It would be good if the restaurant industry could agree on such things so I'd know that if I order something medium it won't come out like a hockey puck.

The fries were also superb; ketchup not served in a bottle but I'm betting it was Heinz.

A couple walked in at like 2:28; the staff must have been thrilled. The hostess told me that they close the kitchen at 2:30, but as long as you're seated before 2:30 they'll serve you. Their official hours say they serve lunch until 3pm. So I'm not sure what the real story is.

While I was finishing up I could hear a constant chopping; prep for dinner was underway. Chop, chop.

My server left so I had another server to get my check. They have an attractive staff here; it's nice to be served by someone who doesn't have a nose ring or a chest-load of tattoos for a change.

$31.50 for lunch.

Conclusion

My impression of the place is that it's a very nice restaurant, the food was good quality, the servers were attractive and friendly and although I live 1/2 block away, I'll probably never come in here again unless a date insists on it. Why? Because I'm not a huge fan of Japanese food and I'm certainly not willing to pay these prices for a menu that really doesn't appeal to me.

I think they're going to have a lot of trouble filling this restaurant before next January, and by then there will be 2 or 3 more restaurants open on the area.

Pre-Opening Musings

The Zuma co-founder Rainer Becker is bringing minimalist Japanese cuisine to Las Olas; opening in the new Icon Las Olas. We have the menu from the Etaru that is currently operating in Hallandale Beach.

This place reminds me of Kuro at the Hard Rock, a place I've never felt compelled to try. I wonder if these guys have ever been to Las Olas, or if someone just sold them on the false narrative that it's just like Rodeo Drive?

Lunch menu includes a 3 choice "Express" lunch for $25; pork ribs, salmon or skirt steak.

Figure at least $50pp for food alone here.

Comment Policy Add Comment
KG
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Happy hour at the bar, but they won't let you take the drinks to your table when the table is ready.
Administrator
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What I find astonishing is when people go to an expensive restaurant and ask a 20yo waiter making 30K what to order. It's downright comical.
Yvonne
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Super Expensive. You can't get 4 people to agree to come to this place for lunch. $30 for lunch is something we do once or twice a year.
Administrator
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Fake reviews are ramping up after a flurry of 1 star rants about indifferent service. Stay Tuned.
Administrator
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They're handing out menus at the door (they're hiring) and I open it up and it's the Hallandale menu with no prices. We've had the Hallandale menu up for months, so it looks to be the exact same concept.

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