As seen in issue 55 of Closer Magazine, published on 2009-01-06 in the "Restaurants" section.
Beyond Belief Beef
Le Tub makes it easy to bite off more than you can chew
By: Thom Debord
My first thought was: I cannot enter this restaurant. I am large, and Le Tub is made of what looks like driftwood, nailed together and spread over a half acre of muck along the Intra-Coastal. In my mind I heard the splintering of rotted wood; I could almost see myself cannonball into the waterway with forty or so screaming diners in tow.
“Och,” said an Eastern European waitress whose name may have been Hilda. “Don’t vorry. Ve haff served bigger boys zan you.”
What the Hell, I figured, Oprah comes here. If the weight of her ego hadn’t collapsed the place, maybe I wouldn’t, either.
Step, step, step, I minced into the lower lounge area. Le Tub is multi-tiered: You enter down toilet-and-tub strewn garden paths. You step down into a lobby, then down again into the pool area, then up into the main indoor dining area, and then you climb down or up in varying combinations to reach the outside tables.
Those tables really are made of driftwood. They are asymmetrical, of varied shape and size, are surrounded by gorgeous tropical flora, and have a view of the Intra-Coastal and the woods across the water. It is beautiful. I actually felt a catch in my throat.
Then I heard a board creek underfoot and I leapt backwards into the safety of the indoor dining area. I said something like: “You’re all going to drown!”
“Och!” said Hilda. “Don’t be ridiculous. It is pervectly zafe.”
At length, I braved my way back to the outdoor tables and studied the menu. This was pointless: I knew what I was eating. I was there to win a bet with my drug dealer, Zen. He had told me that Le Tub’s burger--made famous by Oprah and cited by GQ as the finest in land-- was so big, so decadent, that I could only eat one of them.
“Bullshit!” I said. “I’ll eat five of the fuckers.”
“Five of those would kill a man,” said Zen.
“Not me, Zen,” I said. “I can eat.”
“So, would you bet that you could eat five of them?”
“Of course,” I said. I’d never met a sandwich that I couldn’t eat five of.
And so the bet: If I ate five of the things, Zen would give me a pound of an especially sticky Northern Lights hybrid he’d saved for a special occasion. If I couldn’t, I’d give him my Vespa.
I didn’t want to lose the Vespa. I can’t ride the thing--I’m too big--but it has a custom paintjob of uncommon beauty: teal, and with a picture of a unicorn. I love that bike and I love Northern Lights, and I was going to eat those burgers.
Zen was late. I ordered a Sapphire martini, which Hilda served in a plastic cup. Among Sapphire martinis served in plastic cups, this was the finest I’d ever had. I was on my third when Zen arrived.
“Busy day?” I said.
“Very-very,” he said. “You’re not gonna try to pussy out, are you? I want that Vespa.”
“Not at all. I’ve just been limbering up.” I gestured to the martini.
“Right,” he said.
Hilda took her time wandering over. It was a busy night, but her manner, and that of the other servers, indicated that Le Tubbians are not easily rattled. This is their place, not yours, and customers are always right here only as long as Le Tubbians don’t think you’re a dumbfuck. Regrettably, this is what I would soon prove to be.
“Hi there,” said Zen. “I’d like a small plate of crab legs. And this large fellow here would like five sirloin burgers.” Hilda raised an eyebrow. “You’re a big guy,” she said, “But I don’t zink you can eat fife.”
“I have to,” I said. “My Vespa depends on it.”
She didn’t understand, and she didn’t want to. “You are zerious? You want fife?”
“How about I bring you vhun, and zen ve zee?”
“No, thanks. Five.”
She looked from Zen to me and back again, and set her jaw. “Fine,” she said. “Sviss or American?”
“How vood you like zat cooked?”
“Just walk it through a warm room.”
She said nothing.
“Fine. Ve are busy tonight. It vill be an hour.”
This is pretty much the way it goes at Le Tub, but it actually took only forty minutes. Hilda brought out two burgers at first, and I knew immediately I was fucked. The meat patties were as thick as the fists of a large child. They were also perfect. They tasted powerfully of sirloin, as though the burgers’ jaunt across Le Tub’s grill had sealed all the meat’s meatiness within the patties, beneath a superthin crust of char. I could tell that the grill had been uncommonly hot, had to be extraordinary. I wanted to look at it.
But I didn’t ask to see it. I was overcome by sadness as Hilda brought out the remaining three burgers. I had finished one, I wasn’t hungry at all, and by the end of the second I was full. I choked down a third and, with the last bite, felt a tear roll down my cheek. “Fuck it,” I said, and threw my secondto- last burger into the Intra-Coastal. Le Tub has an underwater light at nighttime, where fish congregate. One of these—a snook?--ate my sirloinburger whole. I briefly envied his utter lack of a gag reflex, but then he rolled over in the water and slowly, gracefully, floated to the surface. He was dead. I realized then that my fellow diners were watching all of this with bemusement and horror, and that Hilda was standing with her eyes on the dead fish, trying to formulate some kind of response. Ultimately she decided to ignore the whole ugly spectacle, as did the diners. Le Tubbians are hardy folk, and Le Tub’s burger? To die for.
1100 N. Ocean Drive
Hollywood, Florida 33019