East End Brasserie in Fort Lauderdale: First Look

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"Hello, bonsoir," said the manager as he breezed through the dining room of the East End Brasserie last night. His mix of English and French would seem appropriate for the 2-week-old restaurant. The menu is somewhat French, a bit English, and, overall, pretty impressive.

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.


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 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.


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.

Follow Clean Plate Charlie on Twitter: @CleanPlateBPB. Follow Eric Barton on Twitter, Google+, and Facebook.

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