The Atlantic’s reborn ground floor restaurant offers casual elegance, great food and an outstanding view
Some critics have pondered the meaning of the name “Beauty & the Feast Bar | Kitchen Restaurant” at The Atlantic Hotel & Spa on Fort Lauderdale’s beach. Really? Don’t overthink the obvious.
The beauty is readily apparent in artfully presented dishes, a modern eclectic décor and spectacular views of the undulating white wave wall, palm trees, sand and beach. An evening filled with appetizers, small plates, entrées and desserts certainly provided a feast.
We arrived in time for happy hour, which includes $3 domestic beers, $4 imports and $8 martinis. The bar area has a bit of an urban feel with a brick wall opposite the windows that provide a panoramic view of the beach. There’s a fun lineup of specialty drinks: Cream, Rock, Flirt, Feast, Cheat, Scheme and Conspire.We indulged in the Cheat, which has Appleton VX Rum, Enza Prosecco, Lemon and Honey 12. The evenly balanced notes were like a good choir. The presentation in a tall skinny glass with a slice of lemon is striking.
Executive Chef Jeff Vincent came out to say hello and told us how he had cut his teeth at Magnolias, a fine-dining restaurant on Bay Street in Charleston. His schooling would show up in excellently prepared seafood dishes.
He quickly sent out an appetizer of edamame, which had a wonderfully complex taste with soy sauce, minced ginger and garlic, plus a touch of honey and hoisin sauce. The mahi-mahi fish dip has a fresh-off-the-boat taste and thankfully isn’t overpowered by seasoning, although there are chopped jalapeño peppers on the side. The Florida crab bisque soup is outstanding – full of crab and made-to-order with a touch of Tabasco sauce and a rich orange-infused sherry cream.
We loved the eggplant stack. One of our party raved about how the crust stays adhered to the eggplant, not falling off in a greasy mess like the version at many restaurants. The mozzarella is hand-stretched. The thick slices of tomato, arugula and aged balsamic glaze added to the wonderfully complex tastes.
The quesadilla is precut into quarters and had a great presentation with a roasted jalapeño pepper at one end and a drizzle of queso. The short rib stuffing is cooked all day in a cabernet sauce. The skirt steak disappeared in seconds. It is tender and pre-sliced with Swiss chard, pesto and a chimichurri sauce.
The sea scallops has a wonderfully rich sauce with porcini butter, wild mushrooms, herbs and sourdough bread. (Just lick the plate clean while no one is watching.)
The Gulf Coast black grouper is a visual delight with microgreens, pan seared rainbow Swiss chard, cippolini onions so carmelized they are like butter and a great Low Country cake of andouille sausage, garlicky grits and cheddar cheese – a must have. Vincent says he empowers his staff to reject any seafood deliveries that aren’t top notch.
Our friendly and knowledgeable server Chris Seiler tempted us with dessert, noting the restaurant has a bakery that makes gelatos and ice cream. Our party raved about the creamy hazelnut gelato and the Mississippi mud pie, which has layers of chocolate flourless cake, chocolate mousse and whipped cream. The carrot cake is amazingly light and tasty.
We plan to return soon to try the whole branzino, a Mediterranean sea bass stuffed with herbs.