East End Brasserie Switches to Farm-to-Table Concept

If it ain't broke don't fix it. If it is, you kind of need to change things up to make sure they'll work out well.

Apparently, the Atlantic Resort & Spa's in-house restaurant East End Brasserie wasn't working out so well. After years of trying to bring traditional French fare to Fort Lauderdale Beach, the new property owners and managers have decided to forego the Francophilia for a more American vibe.

Clean Plate Charlie spoke to the resort's food and beverage director Daniel Lydia about the new concept and the changes being implemented.

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Starting last Friday, the restaurant rolled out its new menu of locally sourced lowcountry-inspired dishes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, such as okra tempura ($8); gulf coast black grouper ($29) with cippolini onion confit, rainbow chard, and smoked cheddar-andouille grit cake; and grilled ancho rubbed double center cut pork chop ($28) with ginger orange blossom honey glaze, pecan wood smoked bacon, smoked cheddar potato cake, and rainbow chard.

Lydia who joined as the food and beverage manager in March, said the French brasserie concept was just not working for the clientele on Fort Lauderdale beach. After taking a few months to scope out the area to see what currently exists, he brought in executive chef Jeff Vincent, a South Carolina-native to take over the kitchen.

"We cater to many European and overseas visitors," said Lydia. "Most of those diners are not looking for a European experience; they're looking to for an authentic American experience."

While the menu items do incorporate international flavors, like jerk pork spring rolls and mojito mussels with plantain fries, according to Lydia the object is keep is local in terms of sourcing.

After spending years working for celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse, author of Farm to Fork, in Las Vegas, Lydia became very familiar with the whole farm-to-table movement and what it's all about. When Lydia teamed up with Vincent, who comes from one of the preeminent farm-to-table regions in the country, it was a match made in local sustainable heaven.

The restaurant now sources from Marando Farms, Palmetto Creek, Jackman Wagyu Beef, and others in the state of Florida. Even the orange juice comes from local producer Kennesaw Fruit & Juice.

"We wanted to see how we could be a responsible company that supports local business," said Lydia. "I though farm-to-table would be a good idea to explore."

In addition to the sourcing changes, the restaurant has now switched to making almost everything from scratch; according to Lydia its about a 95 percent from scratch kitchen now. Everything from salad dressings to sauces to ice creams and desserts are now prepared in-house.

While the new menu and concept launched last week, Lydia is still working on changing the name. Although it's not definite yet, he says it's looking like the new title will be Ocean Market Grill, or OMG for short.

Stay tuned for more updates as they come along.

East End Brasserie is located at 601 N. Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd in Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-567-8020, or visit atlantichotelfl.com.

Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.

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