We always love to find a Mom & Pop restaurant that makes everything from scratch and does it with passion and care. Our recent search brought us to The Gem Eatery off State Road 7 in Margate Florida. It’s modest and small storefront is sandwiched between a thrift store and a local bar, but The Gem Eatery shines bright and is definitely worth a trip.
We didn’t know what to expect at this Margate FL restaurant when we arrived on Thursday for dinner. Once we walked through the front door, we liked what we saw. A nicely decorated and clean restaurant that immediately made you feel comfortable. The shape of the dining area is interesting and one of the walls is on an angle which gave the room a unique feel. The walls are painted in a soft brown/beige tone and the wall hangings add just the right touch.
We were greeted by Lori, one of the owners who would also be our server tonight. She was friendly and welcomed us to the restaurant and was excited when we said it was our first time there. She is also the restaurant’s Executive Pastry Chef and informed us that all items are made ‘from scratch’ and made in house – everything from the pastries to the sauces, dressings and breads.
Lori also explained that they have been at this location for about a year and used to operate a catering business. The birth of The Gem Eatery happened when Lori and her husband Tony wanted to venture into the restaurant business and the other partner didn’t. So Tony & Lori opened The Gem Eatery.
They offer daily specials and the menu include items from pasta to steaks to seafood. Most entrees are served with soup or salad and a side item. We were a bit hungry so decided to start with an appetizer - Fried Potato Wedges with Cheddar jack cheese, bacon, sour cream and chives.
The kitchen can be seen through the small window in back and we could see Tony busy at work making our appetizer. When it was finished he brought it out to the table with a pizza shovel, which was a cool sight. Not only was bringing it out on the pizza shovel cool, but the presentation of the potato wedges was great. The portion was huge and it actually looked like a large flatbread. The potatoes were sliced into wedges and covered with the toppings. They don’t skimp on the toppings at all and every item was fresh and packed with flavor. We liked the drizzle of sour cream and thought is added a nice touch to the dish.
They bake their own bread here and we were brought a small round loaf. Amazing bread that reminded me of my Grandma’s recipe that she would make at Christmas every year. My Dad would appreciate this bread as he knows it takes time to make. The fresh herb olive oil went perfectly with The Gem Eatery version too.
We both ordered an entrée and Jeff chose to start with the soup (Tomato Basil Bisque) and I chose a side salad (with house-made chipotle lemon dressing). The salad was amazing. The romaine lettuce was perfect, not a brown edge in sight. It was a perfect mix of hearts to green and the chipotle dressing was one of the best we’ve had. It was nice to find a chipotle dressing that actually had some spice and flavor. Jeff’s Tomato Basil Bisque was smooth and packed with flavor. The basil was just an enhancement that didn’t overpower the flavor.
There was enough of a break between courses to make us not feel rushed and Lori took good care of us through the meal. Tony even stopped by the table to chat with us. He explained that he loves preparing unique food with fresh ingredients and he’s catered for some of the local celebrities and news anchors. You could tell just by talking to Tony and Lori that they love what they do and they like making people happy.
Next out was our entrees. Jeff ordered the swordfish special that was served either on a bed of dressed unique greens or with rice and vegetables. Jeff went for the mixed unique greens. The swordfish steak was a very generous portion and grilled perfectly. The mixed greens were a nice blend of dark green leaves that also included kale. The vinaigrette was very tasty and Jeff couldn’t get enough.
I went for the ‘Surf & Turf’, an 8oz Rib Eye Steak with Grilled Tiger Shrimp with a side of vegetables. The steak was also very large and since there was no bone, means more meat. The rib eye is one of the tastier cuts and Tony grilled it perfectly. It was very flavorful and tender. The shrimp were rather large and also grilled just right with the perfect amount of seasoning. The veggies were fresh and there was a good assortment. The veggies were seasoned well and the only suggestion is that they could have been a little more ‘al dente’.
We were stuffed and couldn’t even think of trying to squeeze in one of their home made desserts. One the way out, we already decided we’d be back for breakfast.
We arrived at The Gem Eatery for breakfast Saturday shortly after they opened at 9AM. We were greeted by a server right away and he got us our drinks. The breakfast menu consists of your regular players like eggs, bacon and sausage, but there are some interesting items here too. Pancakes with bacon or sausage mixed into the batter sounded good as well as the stuffed French toast. We decided to start with their famous made-for-scratch JUMBO cinnamon roll.
This was definitely a JUMBO cinnamon roll. As big as a dinner plate and topped with a salted caramel sauce and then with a cream cheese frosting. This is a fork and knife cinnamon roll for sure. Soft and fresh and loaded with cinnamon flavor. The salted caramel mixed with frosting to create this great sugary bliss. Definitely satisfied our sweet tooth today. And besides, the gym starts again on Monday right?
Jeff ordered the biscuits and sausage gravy. Served with one home-made biscuit which was more than enough for breakfast. The gravy covered the plate and was so good you almost didn’t need the biscuit. This is not your normal ‘country’ gravy that everyone has. It was a hearty,thick gravy loaded with sausage, but it also had red peppers. It was smooth and had a rich flavor with plenty of sausage spice. This is now one of Jeff’s favorite versions.
I ordered the two egg special with bacon and potatoes. The eggs were done to a perfect over medium and were on the large size. The bacon was smoky and very tasty and it was cut into a few pieces to fit nicely on the plate. The potatoes were lightly seasoned and maybe pan fried to a nice crisp texture. The toast was really good too. I know, it’s just toast but you’d be amazed on how many places give you old or rubbery toast. This was warm, freshly toasted and slathered with butter. Just how it should be.
We liked our breakfast a lot and will be back. Their JUMBO cinnamon roll alone is ABSOLUTELY worth a trip itself. Part of the fun eating at The Gem Eatery is to see what specials they will have. We hear that the wings are amazing with all house-made sauces and house-made bleu cheese.
We are so glad to find that Margate FL finally has real home-made comfort food restaurant with The Gem Eatery. We would not be surprised at all to someday see this Margate eatery showcased on a Food Network TV show. The Gem Eatery is located at 1043 N State Road 7 Margate FL.
**They are closed Sunday and Monday and open for Breakfast Tuesday thru Saturday at 9AM.