East End Brasserie in Fort Lauderdale: First Look
|Photos by Eric Barton|
|The sweet venison dish is like a primer for Thanksgiving.|
Impressive is applicable here, at the least, because the restaurant renovation is a gutsy move for the Atlantic Resort & Spa. Tourists would probably show no matter what kind of frozen fish they dropped on a plate, but the Atlantic clearly wanted to shoot higher,
evident with fois gras, venison, and artisanal French cheeses.
The large room has been given a slight makeover since its simple modernist days as Trina. New are the French country-style tables for large parties in the center of the room, as is the lipstick-red banquette along the back. Mirrors and French-themed posters cover the walls.
The Atlantic brought in Manhattan chef Steven Zobel to run the kitchen, and he filled his new menu with French dishes, along with a few wildcards. Traditional French onion soup, escargots, and tuna tartare share space under the appetizers ($9 to $19) with butternut squash wontons and a hearts of palm salad ($10). That last one is served niçoise-style, with slices of tomatoes, green beans, and avocado in a dressing of lemon and olive oil -- a simple presentation that shows Zobel's focus here will be to highlight good ingredients.
|The pork chop is topped with quail eggs, with greens, and a mushroom risotto below.|
The entrées feature fewer French standards, although steak frittes and rabbit au vin make appearances. The maple-glazed Denver red venison ($31) is like a Thanksgiving primer, served in a sweet maple au jus and paired with sweeter sweet potatoes, slightly sweet shavings of roasted Brussels sprouts, and tart cranberries. The Berkshire Farms center-cut pork chop ($26) comes with a pair of quail eggs and a mushroom risotto that's not very French but surely won't disappoint tourists coming down from a room in the Atlantic.
The dessert menu (all items $10) doesn't feature the French favorite for ending a dessert, those artisanal cheeses mentioned on the dinner menu. But it does feature pastry chef Ashley Roehrig's take on some French classics, like a banana Foster crepe and a creamsickle crème brûlée. House-made ice cream is served in a brandysnap bowl and is headlined by an ancho chili and cinnamon flavor that's sweet, creamy, and spicy.
|Ancho chili adds heat to the house-made cinnamon ice cream.|
Adding heat to ice cream is a risk when serving a room mostly full of tourists likely hoping for a slice of Key lime pie. But it's clear the Atlantic and Zobel were willing to take some risks with a brasserie meant to push the boundaries of Fort Lauderdale beach's tourist strip.
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