This month’s big news is that Brightline now runs daily service to Ft. Lauderdale. If you haven’t taken a ride yet, it’s a great experience. For $10 each way you get what’s called the “car-free carefree” experience. The Ft. Lauderdale station is at N.W. 2nd Ave. and Broward Boulevard – just a five-minute walk to Riverwalk Fort Lauderdale and Las Olas Boulevard.
The Friday after service started the “Subculture Philosophers Club” (see my July 2017 column) became “Philosophers on a Roll” thanks to a semi-spontaneous decision to take Brightline to Ft. Lauderdale instead of having our regular coffee at Subculture. The trip took 35 minutes and we upgraded to Select Class, so the tickets were $15 each way. The trip was incredibly fast and the service on board was fantastic, including free coffee and snacks – always complimentary with Select Class tickets – and even great WIFI service.
I’ve been to downtown Ft. Lauderdale before, but it always meant fighting traffic on I-95 and finding a place to park. In general, it wasn’t a pleasant experience. Now, thanks to Brightline, the cores of these two cities are connected. I can walk from downtown West Palm Beach, take a 30-minute train ride and arrive in the heart of the Ft. Lauderdale action.
Being a supporter of the train from Day One, I thought I understood what having this connection with the rest of South Florida meant from an economic and business perspective. But actually riding the train showed me how much more important this link will be for our city than even I had thought.
Brightline isn’t the only new game in town. I’m referring to a topic that I possibly know more about than anyone else alive: lunch on Clematis Street!
MidiCi The Neapolitan Pizza Company opened Jan. 24, at 218 Clematis St. The Classic Neapolitan Pizza is $8.95. Toppings cost $1.
Specialty pizzas range from the Parmesan Pizza ($10.95) to the Truffle and Prosciutto Pizza ($14.50). The restaurant fully cooks your pizza in 90 seconds in its two Italian-made ovens. Appetizers, salads and dessert also are available.
The owners have put a ton of work into this project. Their goal is to make MidiCi a community hub. You’ll see this right away from the Polaroid camera sitting near the entrance so guests can take pictures and peg them to MidiCi’s picture board near the center of the restaurant.
They have a large community table in the back which has a view of a projection screen that shows classic Italian movies throughout the day. The coolest part is that they broke through the building slab to plant a live olive tree inside the restaurant, solidifying the feeling of sitting under a tree in an Italian piazza.
MidiCi’s Happy Hour is from 5 to 7 p.m. at the bar and offers daily specials, such as “Winedown Wednesday,” where patrons can order a bottle of wine and cheese plate for $19.95
In other dining news, Hurricane Irma blew the owners of Cafe Moderne from their home in Key West up to 533 Clematis St. This new spot features a trendy breakfast and lunch menu. Thursdays to Saturdays, Cafe Moderne is open until 10 p.m., where you can sit in their cafeteria-style dining room and enjoy watching the world go by while sipping their selection of wines.
Aioli continues work on its newest location at 206 S. Olive Ave. I’m especially excited as the original location in the south end of West Palm Beach is wildly popular. Aioli’s homemade bread, breakfast and lunches fly off the shelves. They will be a much-needed addition to our breakfast and lunch scene.
Finally, one of our local favorites, Chickpea, is moving from its current location on the 400 block of Clematis Street to 330 Clematis St. What’s best described as “the Mediterranean Chipotle” has been bursting at the seams with lines out the door since it opened.
The new space, which previously held the Jardin restaurant, provides the same open kitchen design but with patio seating and almost twice the space. I can’t wait to see what the team does with this new space.