I haven’t been to Fort Lauderdale in years (and I mean years) as there hasn’t been reason to go there although many of the cruises to the Caribbean depart from Fort Lauderdale and I recently learned that Jet Blue does direct flights from SFO to Fort Lauderdale. Who knew? I guess I need to go more often.
Oh yeah and btw, for those who don’t know, Jet Blue offers free wifi as well and unlike most of my flights, I got a window seat on my last jaunt just to take in the views: wow, right?
Luxury foodies, take note. Fort Lauderdale has a wealth of restaurant options to explore and given that my most recent trip was so short, I only managed to experience a few.
Let’s start with OCEAN2000 (above), the restaurant at the Pelican Grand Hotel where I stayed for a few days on my way back from Aruba.
OCEAN2000 at Pelican Grand
Dining at the Pelican Grand is a real treat and must do when you visit Fort Lauderdale and they have incredible menus for both lunch and dinner.
In a series of monthly events, OCEAN2000 offers amazing dining experiences under the illumination of a natural full moon. Imagine under a sweeping veranda, dining al fresco with an unobstructed view of a natural full moon reflecting off the Atlantic Ocean. The experience includes over-sized telescopes positioned for viewing of the moon and table visits from Bea Kobran, an astrologer and spiritual healer who does intuitive readings. How cool is that?
Given the sunny warm temperatures when I was there in late March, brunch on the deck is still on my mind weeks later. They have plenty of sandwiches and salads, including an organic grains & greens mix which you can add mahi, chicken, steak or salmon to (below). There’s nothing better than a healthy salmon salad with a cold glass of Chardonnay on a gorgeous afternoon.
Then there’s their Seared Ahi Club, which they serve with bacon, avocado, onions, soy, tomatoes, and iceberg lettuce. They also offer a Lobster BLT (with applewood-smoked bacon), a Mojo Pork sandwich with sweet cured ham, genoa salami, swiss and menchego cheeses and housemade pickles, Pineapple-Jerked Chicken wraps and Blue Crab Cakes, the latter of which is a must order next time I visit their restaurant.
As an aside, I’d suggest ordering a plate of East Coast oysters with a Margarita or a nice crisp Sauvignon Blanc. They also offer a Day Boat Ceviche, which I’ll be sure to try next time — they serve it with fried plantains, chulpe corn, avocado, aji and red onions.
For dinner, I tried the Spicy Ahi Tuna Tacos with sriracha aioli, ginger and lime, as well as the Soy-Miso Black Grouper, which they served with purple sweet potatoes, sweet chili ponzu and papaya chimichurri (both shown below), and they were divine, especially with the crashing waves in the background.
How’s this Sweet potato and Jicama Succotash? I had to try it. They make it with fava beans, corn, tomato and peppers. Oh so yum!
Also, a tasty appetizer that is hard to pass up is their Creamy Tomato Burrata, with banyuls-marinated heirloom tomatoes, orange-scented saba balsamic and fresh basil.
Breakfast is also scrumptious at this great restaurant find, with its breathtaking ocean views. Here are a few brunch specialties. You can also get burger patties with fried eggs, shrimp and grits with andouille sausage, frittatas, Huevos Rancheros, Buttermilk pancakes, Belgian waffles and French toast and make your own omelettes.
If not graced with great weather like I had, you can always dine inside, which includes tables and elegant booths as seating options. They also boast a serious mixology program of ‘Classic Reinvented Cocktails’ for those who love their cocktails. They tout themselves as paying homage to the local foodways, devoting itself to the fine combination of great mixology, good times and superior regional cooking.
Pelican Grand Beach Resort
2000 North Ocean Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33305
A few miles away, you’ll find Seasons 52, which has a number of locations, although Fort Lauderdale was my first Seasons 52 dining experience. I should start with the bar, since it’s fun and hip with knowledgeable bartenders who have a sense of humor and are ready to serve.
Fun and chic, it’s a great place to go for a romantic night out or if you’re single and want to just take in the fun vibes and well-made cocktails.
Photo credit: Seasons 52
Near East Sunrise Boulevard, Seasons 52 has a great range of international wine as well, from Argentinean Malbec to South African Chenin Blanc. Happy Hour includes chef-inspired $5 small plates and 52 wines by the glass.
Many of their dishes use rustic cooking techniques like brick oven roasting and using a wood fire grill. They’re known for their flatbreads, like the Roasted Roma Tomato (first photo below), natural Pepperoni or more unique blends, like Artichoke and Laura Chenel Goat Cheese, Garlic PEsto and Blackened Steak and blue cheese.
I had to try the Lobster and Fresh Mozzarella flatbread which they make with roasted sweet peppers, scallions and a lobster sour cream. I love that they include all the calories next to the dishes and as decadent as this sounds, it only had 430, a far cry from a healthy salad without dressing, but still….it was so delicious I am still dreaming of another bite.
My neighbors who have been coming to the restaurant for years, ordered the golden beet salad made with goat cheese, toasted pistachios and micro basil (it was oh so WOW!) that I had to try it. The chef tops it with a Chive Oil drizzle with a 15 year Balsamic glaze.
Also worth ordering on their menu is the Ahi Tuna Tartare, which he makes with a wasabi-avocado mousse, tropical salsa, and Hawaiian sea salt crisps. I didn’t think I’d finish it but…..
Love seafood and want a dish that will melt in your mouth? Try the Asian-Glazed Chilean Sea Bass which is served over a bed of black rice, snow peas, shiitake mushrooms and a micro wasabi.
As for sides, there’s plenty of veggie options to choose from, including a decadent Truffle Mac ‘N’ Cheese which is apparently very popular and the Stir-Fried Snow Peas with Shiitake Mushrooms (below). I couldn’t say no to it, especially with its sprinkled cracked almonds, toasted sesame and an Asian glaze sauce.
Meat lovers will appreciate that they have Boneless Beef Short Ribs, pork tenderloin, a Wood-Grilled Filet Mignon and a New York Strip steak. I drank Chardonnay since I opted for fish all night, however they do have a great red wine selection if you do go for red meat and they also have a handful of local craft beers to try out as well, such as Monk in the Trunk Organic Amber Ale, Duke’s Cold Nose Brown Ale, and others.
I mentioned their cocktails a few times now, which are great inside at the trendy bar or outside on the patio. How about a Grapefruit Negroni with organic gin, housemade Ruby Red Grapefruit Shrub and Compari, or a Cucumber Basil Smash with organic cucumber vodka, white cranberry juice, cucumber, basil and lime? Scrumptious right?
If you still have space for dessert afterwards, they have a variety of selections to choose from. How can you say no to any of these? And so, I didn’t.
Two thumbs up! And, the service was outstanding.
Seasons 52 Fresh Grill
2428 East Sunrise Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33304
Note: I was a guest of the restaurants, but all opinions expressed are entirely my own.