Bar Talk with Austin Bullock at Newly Renovated SeaWatch in Fort Lauderdale

Categories: Interviews
​These days I have my sites set on SeaWatch, the recently renovated steak and seafood restaurant set on the bluffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in Fort Lauderdale.

With amazing views, a revamped look, and a killer new menu, it's the place to be in our books. 

We stopped by the 37-year-strong establishment to see bartender Austin Bullock. 

He gave us the lowdown on the menu makeover and full-frontal face lift his place recently underwent. Here's what he told us:

Clean Plate Charlie: So tell me about the renovations.

SeaWatch: We closed down for two months this past September, and redid the whole place -- everything from the kitchen and the interior [decor], to the menu and wine list. Before, there was a very rustic, nautical theme to everything. It had charm to it, but now there's a modern, clean feel. They made it classier.

Would you say that's one of the reasons people are drawn here? 

People come here for the food, and because of the location. It's one of the very few places that's on a quiet beach [front] like the one we have here. People love to come here for lunch and just relax and enjoy sitting outside.

Tell us about the menu. How has it changed?

Well, our wine list has probably doubled [since the renovation], with almost 60 bottles and nearly 30 selections by the glass.

On the menu, we've expanded options all the way around - everything from the entrees to the sides. Now, instead of having only three side choices with your meal, we have nearly a dozen to choose from (new sides like corn bread, caramelized mushrooms and fresh creamed spinach with bacon, $3 to $5).

It's still a la carte during the evening, and some of the entrees ($20 to $30) are the same. But we also have added a few items that are becoming new favorites.

What are some of the most noticeable changes?

We've always been a steak and seafood place, but now we also have [specialties] like Bouillabaisse ($29) and Seafood Paella ($28), a few pasta dishes, and several new [feature or dinner] salads. There are even sandwiches [on our lunch and dinner menus] for people who want something lighter.

What was one of your most popular dishes that made it onto the new menu? 

People come here just for our Slow-roasted Prime Rib (10 or 16-ounce cuts for $25/$32) served with horseradish sauce, au jus and Yorkshire pudding. But [since the renovation] we also changed our beef supplier, and have more of a focus [on preparing an even better steak]. 

The Kurobuta Double Cut Pork Chop (9-ounce Berkshire cut with an apricot marmalade-honey-cayenne glaze and grand marnier-stewed apricots, $22) is also a really popular addition to the menu.

And I've heard more and more people say that our Crab Cake [appetizer, served with a mandarin-peanut slaw, $14) is the best they've ever had.

Any favorites of your own?

My favorite is the Roasted Salmon ($22) with kalamata olives, sun-dried tomato and garlic.

Any complaints?

I never hear anyone complain about the food. It's only about the things that we've changed that [they now] miss. We have a very dedicated, older clientele -- people that have been coming here for generations. And some of them don't like change.

So, why the change?

I think it's to help [usher in] a new era clientele. We've got a younger crowd coming here now, and that's good, too.

What's the best night?

Our busiest nights are still Friday and Saturday. And weekend days are always busy, of course.

What's the most popular drink here at SeaWatch?

Our margaritas. And I'm not a big fan of margaritas, but I like ours. Our sour mix is special ordered, and comes straight from California. We make it by the gallon, and it's very strong.

Where else have you bartended?

Nowhere else. This was my first job when I moved from Connecticut [a few years ago]. There are [a few] bartenders here that have been with the place over 20 years, and they taught me everything I know.

You have a degree in financial accounting, but you chose to come here and bartend. What do you like most about your job?

For the most part, it's good money, and I enjoy coming to work everyday. You can't ask for much more. When I moved down to Florida, that's what I wanted -- to enjoy the weather, and bartend on the beach. I literally got what I asked for.

Well, we're pretty damn sure we'll get the same deal when we come to visit you at SeaWatch. Margaritas, anyone?

6002 North Ocean Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308
(954) 781-2200

Follow Clean Plate Charlie on Twitter: @CleanPlateBPB.

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"I never hear anyone complain about the food."Wow, must be the only perfect restaurant in the world.

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