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. Since launching in January 2010, 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.
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 in 2012; all in the interest of creating an ever-changing array of dishes that stand apart from Sea Level’s more traditional menu staples.
Items change daily, with some remaining through lunch and dinner service. 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.
A graduate of Baltimore International Culinary College, Chef Connelly (39) originally opened Sea Level in 2010. Prior to that he’s enjoyed a stint at Renaissance Harbor Place Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland; launched Water Table by Dean James Max in Baltimore and served as the Banquet Sous Chef at the JW Marriott Grande Lakes in Orlando, Florida. After successfully opening the Stonegrill Restaurant at sister property JW Desert Ridge Resort & Spa in Phoenix, Arizona, Connelly headed back east in late December 2013 and returned to Sea Level.
Sea Level Restaurant & Ocean Bar is located at the Fort Lauderdale Marriott Harbor Beach Resort & Spa, 3030 Holiday Drive. Lunch and Dinner is served daily from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; the bar is open until 1 a.m. Reservations and walk-ins welcome.
Telephone: (954) 765-3041;www.harborbeachmarriott.com.
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Photo credit: Sun Moon Photography