It’s rare when the first thing you think about in regards to a resort is its restaurant, but that’s the case with Ireland’s Steakhouse at the Bonaventure Resort & Spa in Weston, Fla. That’s no knock on the 501-room resort, only 10 miles from Fort Lauderdale Beach, but tells you about the quality of Ireland’s – without a doubt one of top restaurants in South Florida.
If for no other reason, you have to like a restaurant that offers you a choice of steak knives. But Ireland’s is much more. With the feel and design of a classic steak house, Ireland’s service is impeccable and its menu features outstanding cuts of beef, such as New York Strip, Bone-In Ribeye and Bone-In Filet Mignon, and seafood, including Butter Poached Lobster Tails and Miso Yellow Tail Snapper.
I’m a steak guy, so I had the 14 oz. New York Strip – cooked perfectly and loaded with flavor. But what really sets Ireland’s apart is its appetizers and sides. Start with the Sautéed Wild Shrimp wrapped in an arepa and served with guasacaca – sort of a Venezuelan guacamole. The dish has great flavor and even for those who don’t like shrimp, it’s a must-try.
The Roasted Red Pepper soup with jumbo crab, asparagus and Mascarpone cheese is equally as tasty.
As for the sides, particularly for the beef and chops, the Roasted Garlic Mashed potatoes are the best I’ve tasted – creamy and filled with flavor. The Potatoes Au’ Gratin also are outstanding and for those who want veggies, try the Asian Green Beans.
“They keys are the food and the ingredients,” said Bonaventure Resort & Spa General Manager Jim Mauer. “We focus on quality meats – only prime and wagyu. The broiler is always tip top at 1,300 degrees. You don’t have to re-invent the wheel with the steak; you just have to buy the freshest ingredients and make sure execution is flawless.”
Ireland’s has been executing flawlessly for more than 20 years.
“We’ve never seen (business) go up and down at Ireland’s. It’s always been consistent,’ Mauer said. “Even if the hotel is in a slower time period, the steak house is sold out almost every night. People connect with it. They love it.”
And there is a lot more to love. The resort is undergoing a renovation to its guest rooms, lobby and meeting rooms in an ambience that Mauer describes as “traditional Florida with a modern interpretation and little bit of beach flair.”
The biggest addition to the guest rooms might be hardwood floors that replace the carpets that give each room a better look and feel.
“You’re going to get that good, nostalgic feel,” Mauer said. “I see it as a modern influence without being South Beach, We don’t want to be South Beach.”
In other words, Mauer knows what the resort is and works to keep it that way. If you want South Beach, it’s about an hour away. Bonaventure Resort & Spa is more of a traditional Florida country club where guests come enjoy three outdoor pools, a 48,000 square-foot spa with 31 treatment rooms, four restaurants and lounges (including Ireland’s) and more than 60,000 square feet of meeting space.
About a five-minute drive from the 23-acre resort is Bonaventure Country Club, which features a pair of semi-private golf courses – the East and West. The East course, which plays slightly more than 7,000 yards from the tips, recently underwent a $3 million renovation that included rebuilding its tees, greens and bunkers. The renovation has transformed the East course, with its TifEagle Bermuda greens, into one of the better public-access courses in South Florida.
The third hole is the East’s most memorable. It’s a 165-yards (back tees), par three that requires a tee shot over water to a green guarded by a waterfall in the front and bunkers in the back. In addition to being challenging – especially when the wind blows – the third hole is one of the more visually appealing in South Florida.
In fact, the East course – well maintained and landscaped – is a classic South Florida golf course that perfectly complements a classic South Florida resort.