Seaside Gem Showcases Locally-inspired Chalkboard Specials
This is truly a hidden gem! An under the radar foodie find, Sea Level Restaurant & Ocean Bar at the Fort Lauderdale Marriott Harbor Beach Resort & Spa is more than just a seaside hotel restaurant. The restaurant’s casual setting, complemented by a great bar with killer ocean views, has offered hotel guests and in-the-know locals a polished yet relaxed oceanside dining destination. As the sun was bursting with orange and yellow it quickly dove into the turquoise waters of the Atlantic Ocean. This was a picture perfect backdrop as we began our culinary adventure.
Though diners would be hard pressed to find a better burger, fish sandwich or steaming plate of chicken wings, what sets Sea Level apart is the restaurant’s massive chalkboard…Chef Jason Connelly’s “playground,” as he calls it, for a daily array of locally inspired specials. “The chalkboard started simply as a straight-up specials board,” says Connelly, “but as I’ve honed the menu at Sea Level the chalkboard became a place for me to create menu dishes that profile the amazing product available right here in South Florida.” To that end, Connelly has been putting his great contacts with local farmers to use, with product coming in daily from the likes of Paradise Farms, Farm House Tomatoes, Michael Borek Farms and Joyce Farms, among others, as well as the herb garden he planted behind the restaurant; all in the interest of creating an ever-changing array of dishes that stand apart from Sea Level’s more traditional menu staples.
If you are looking to quench your thirst, Sea Level’s bartenders have mastered the “Garden to Glass” method of mixology…preparing handcrafted cocktails with only the freshest squeezed juices and fragrant herbs from our chef’s organic garden. Try the Harbor Beach Tipsy Turtle, where $1 of every sale is donated to the Sea Turtle Conservation Fund.
Although Items change daily, we decided to share some of the regular menu items of succulent Jumbo Lump Crab Salsa with tortilla strips, crispy Salt and Pepper Calamari with marinara and irresistible House Made Potato chips is served with a key lime black pepper dip. Rock shrimp and Avocado Cocktail, served with fresh pico de gallo was light and refreshing while the Bucket of Mussels in a fragrant lemon grass broth is served with grilled bread for dipping. Chilled salads, large enough to share include a perfect combination of Jumbo Lump Crab and Arugula drizzled with orange mustard dressing as well as traditional Greek, Cobb and Grilled Chicken Caesar, all taken to a new level of taste.
Recent chalkboard choices include Day Boat Scallop served with corn, jumbo lump crab risotto, English pea and chili oil; Prawn with tomato-apricot chutney and herb coulis; Yellow Beet Ravioli with goat cheese, red beet puree, micro fennel and pistachio; Wahoo Poke topped with edible flowers, a potato crisp and served with an avocado mousse and chipotle aioli; and New York Strip topped with a quail egg and served with a butternut squash puree, baby vegetables, potato, shishito pepper and chimichurri. House specials offer Market Fish in a luscious clementine-carrot butter sauce with jumbo lump crab, fennel salad and fresh garden chives or Paella loaded with fresh mussels, crab, clams, shrimp, lobster, saffron rice, chorizo and onion. From the grill we thoroughly enjoyed the tender and juicy Ribeye and Strip Steak simply seasoned, served with béarnaise, rosemary and chimichurri sauces.
On the lighter side, don’t miss the fresh Fish Burger with fennel slaw, saffron aioli on a Brioche bun; the Turkey Burger is topped with delicious roasted mushrooms, havarti cheese, balsamic onions, and chimichurri also on an onion bun. It just doesn’t get better than that. The Caribbean Jerk chicken Sandwich with jicama papaya slaw, mango cilantro aioli on pineapple coconut bread was a party in our mouths as it burst with flavor.
With a perfect backdrop of the full moon reflecting on the water and refreshing ocean breezes, we enjoyed our sweet ending of insanely delicious banana bread and Affogato with vanilla ice cream, espresso, candied pecans and cappuccino foam. Don’t miss the decadent Dark Chocolate Cake with raspberry, red fruit coulis, or the Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie layered with crunchy peanuts, chocolate mousse, fruit and nut compote.
Reflecting a dash of Florida flair and creative American touches, the cuisine at Sea Level is South Florida dining at its most inspired. Perched on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, Sea Level showcases the region’s freshest seafood, choice cuts of meat and high-quality produce to appeal to nearly every palate
Sea Level Restaurant & Ocean Bar is located at the Fort Lauderdale Marriott Harbor Beach Resort & Spa, 3030 Holiday Drive. Is open for lunch and dinner daily. Reservations suggested by calling (954) 765-3041 or www.harborbeachmarriott.com. Bon Appétit…
By: Marla Horn Lazarus