There's a pork chop on the menu at the new 3030 Ocean in Fort Lauderdale that will have you dreaming of dinner for days. It's everything a pork chop should be, fat and juicy and rubbed down in a blend of hickory-smoked spices that manages to elevate the flavor of the heritage-bred meat without masking its robust, intense character.
The best part is the thick ribbon of fat along the edge that, thanks to a delicate cooking technique, is left fully intact — neither charred from a hot grill nor melted away from a broiling oven. If you're the type of person who loves the flavor of melting lard upon your lips, you can savor it along with the rest of the chop, plated with a delicate celery root purée and Brussels sprouts.
It's just one dish, but it is one of many executed with an eye for detail and flavor combinations for which 3030 Ocean's newly appointed executive chef, Adrienne Grenier, may soon be well-known.
In Broward and Palm Beach counties, the hotel restaurant has become a unique breed of establishment. It can run the gamut from hip and casual à la the Rusty Hook Tavern at the Sands Harbor Resort & Marina in Pompano Beach to the custom-built and cutting-edge, like the new Burlock Coast at Fort Lauderdale's Ritz-Carlton.
But 3030 Ocean has stood the test of time. It opened at the Harbor Beach Marriott Resort & Spa in 1999 under the watchful eye of Dean James Max, a chef with a laundry list of accomplishments, from multiple James Beard nominations for best chef to being crowned King of American Seafood at the Great American Seafood Cook-Off in 2010.
A decade ago, 3030 Ocean was among the area's most-beloved hotel establishments, a chic bistro serving stylish American cuisine, seafood, and specialty meats. When Max left in 2013, he ended a 15-year streak, handing the reins to then-sous-chef Paula DeSilva. Her tenure ended in June of this year.
Following an intensive three-month renovation, today the kitchen belongs to 32-year-old Grenier, the restaurant's former sous chef who helped to hold down the fort the past few months experimenting with a temporary pop-up concept she dubbed Tupelo.
"I often tell people I really learned to cook in this kitchen," says Grenier. "I got my foundation here and learned all the stations working under Dean and Paula those first two years. It was an amazing way to start my career."
The story goes something like this: Grenier began her schooling at the University of Central Florida following another passion and majoring in environmental forestry with the intention of becoming a park ranger. When she later transferred to Florida State University, she switched her focus to food science and nutrition and then, after college, attended culinary school, enrolling in the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale.
In 2005, Grenier was hired as an entry-level cook at the restaurant where she now works as executive chef. There, she worked under Max, who was among the first to bring the green concept to South Florida, winning praise for his fresh and sustainable approach to seafood and showcasing local farmers, fishermen, and food producers.
Today, that philosophy is still the main focus at 3030 Ocean. After working with Gordon Ramsay in Los Angeles and later Paula DaSilva at 1500° at the Eden Roc Renaissance Miami Beach — plus a stint on the Food Network's Chopped — Grenier says she's only looking to bring a fresh perspective to the well-known and beloved concept.
"All of the experiences have shaped and primed me to be where I am now," says Grenier. "That is what I'm bringing to 3030 Ocean now. I know where it started, and I know where I want to take it. The restaurant has always had such a great perspective and concept, and I'm not trying to change that. I wanted a menu that is approachable yet still interesting, elegant, and refined and for the food coming out of the kitchen to match the new decor."
That vision has become reality; the New American and seafood-focused restaurant located in the lobby of Fort Lauderdale's Harbor Beach Marriott has undergone a complete transformation from tired and old to new and refreshed. A fresh color palette, soft lighting, and tasteful accents like tempered glass walls have helped to move the restaurant into a more modern mode while allowing for an easy flow between imbibing and dining.
Likewise, the menu includes a list of raw bar items, starters, entrées, and sides that stay true to the local and sustainable tenets Max originally put forth. If you're the sort who likes to sample from a wide variety of dishes, the first half of the menu will entice you to try everything from locally sourced Gulf shrimp and Florida stone crab at the raw bar to a squid-ink linguine, rock shrimp risotto, or ahi tuna poke.
Now, dinner at 3030 Ocean opens with one of four crudo selections, where the subtle sweetness of tropical flavors — a pop of citrus, smooth coconut milk, or toasted macadamia nuts — gives ordinary, ho-hum dishes a brightness.
Grenier's wahoo sashimi could be boring without the unexpected crunch of crispy fried shallots and umami rush from dashi, a stock used in Japanese cooking that also forms the base of miso soup. And the tuna poke — what seems like a go-to menu option for so many seafood-centered eateries — is executed equally well, a traditional Hawaiian-style presentation with a soy-sambal chili sauce that lends a garlicky, gingery-sweet heat to the delicate tuna and accompanying wakame, cucumber, and toasted macadamia nuts.
If you haven't been bored to death by octopus, the charred one here is solid too. Grenier begins by poaching each meaty tentacle in a flavored broth, then marinating them overnight in a combination of oil and herbs. From there, it's finished on a hot grill, fat char marks imparting a strong smoky essence into each bite. While the octopus — meat buttery soft and tender — takes center stage, the rest of the dish is a well-played complement: a smooth slick of creamy marcona almond purée, a compote-like spoonful of blistered vine-ripe tomatoes, and a delicate arugula and farro salad.
For less-standard starters, Grenier displays her love of making fresh pasta with a handmade squid-ink linguine she tosses with peekytoe crab in a briny uni butter flavored with preserved lemon and pickled jalapeños. The flavors are bright and bold, but unfortunately the uni butter is so thick that it's a bit like eating noodles coated in mayonnaise.
Larger plates and entrées highlight the best of both land and sea. Grenier says she works with local fishermen to ensure the freshest catch possible, what includes a local swordfish, striped bass, black grouper, yellowfin tuna, and yellowtail snapper served with everything from a spicy, ponzu-spiked green papaya slaw to a green coconut curry sauce.
Meat lovers: You aren't forgotten on this menu, where more straightforward options include a roasted Lake Meadow chicken or a Jackman Ranch bone-in rib eye. This is also where you'll find that pork chop, sourced from Palmetto Creek Farms in Avon Park, best-known for its Hereford hogs that yield fat-laced meat similar in texture and color to beef.
If you're looking to end things on a sweet note, know that pastry chef Huma Nagi is one of the OG team members to work with Max. Although her desserts change frequently — a collaborative pairing with Grenier's produce sourcing and menu creations — right now they include a tropical fruit tart.
"It's been a crazy last few months, but we're finally here and ready to show everyone what we've done," says Grenier. "If you loved 3030 Ocean before, you're going to feel right at home."
3030 Holiday Drive, Fort Lauderdale. Hours are 6 to 10 p.m. Monday through Sunday. Call 954-765-3129, or visit 3030ocean.com.
Ahi tuna poke $17
Wahoo sashimi $16
Charred octopus $15
Squid-ink linguine $21
Hickory-rubbed Palmetto Creek pork chop $33
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