It was a big year for 3030 Ocean in Fort Lauderdale. Last October marked not just an all-new look compliments of a complete renovation transformation of the Marriott's iconic flagship restaurant; it also marks the first year since Chopped champion Adrienne Grenier took over the kitchen as executive chef.
In last 14 months, 3030 Ocean has remained one of the region’s finest restaurants thanks to Grenier, now considered one of the county's rising star chefs. And, on the heels of the relaunch’s one year anniversary, the kitchen and bar teams have recently unveiled a bevy of new offerings.
“The menus are always evolving, new dishes — or new takes on dishes — coming and going depending on what's in season,” said Grenier, whose rustic farm-to-fork ethos dovetails with the restaurant’s ocean-to-table spirit. “But many of these most recent dishes and drinks were an intentional, seasonally-inspired collaborative effort with [executive sous chef Brooke Mallory]. The one year mark is significant for us, and I think it helped fuel us creatively.”
While you can't go wrong with longtime signature dishes like the Palmetto Creek pork chop we gushed about in our November 2015 feature, all-new menu items offer up a wonderful array of unique flavors ripe with seasonal relevance. Fresh dishes span the entire menu and run the gamut from handmade porcini mushroom- and homemade ricotta-stuffed ravioli in a brown butter sauce to New Orleans-style beignets served with sarsaparilla pot de creme.
Here, Grenier lists six of her favorites, listed in no particular order, and explains to us the ethos behind each ingredient pairing.
6. Cedar Key Little Neck Clams
"This is a real palate-kicker starter. The clams have always been on the menu — a great Florida selection from Cedar Key, Florida — but I switched up the flavor profile with some different ingredients available this season," says Grenier. The result: a rich chorizo broth is spiked with peppers sourced from nearby Swank Specialty Produce in Loxahatchee.
5. Braised Chicken Leg Ragout
"This is probably my favorite thing on the menu right now," says Grenier. The standout rookie dish beside entrée veterans is this rich braised chicken leg ragout, served with the chef's handmade potato gnocchi, roasted rutabaga, shaved black truffle, spicy-fresh arugula, and Spanish Mahón cheese. Grenier says she stumbled across this soft, creamy cow's milk cheese in her walk-in, and decided to make use of it. It appears twice: first rolled into the fresh gnocchi, and again as a finishing touch to the final dish, offering a creamy-sweet kick to the rich chicken that is braised, then stewed with fennel and onion, until melt-in-your-mouth tender.
4. Creamy Crab Pasta
"I absolutely love making fresh pasta, so we always have one on the menu here," says Grenier. "It's a self-taught skill, but one that I've come to enjoy." That includes the linguini used to make the creamy crabmeat and pasta dish, one Grenier has offered since day one. This season, the chef has paired the Atlantic rock crab — also known as Peekytoe crab — with sweet piquillo peppers, preserved lemon, and charred fresno peppers for a new twist. Mixed in with the linguini and topped with toasted breadcrumbs for an added crunch-factor, the resulting dish strikes the perfect balance of texture and flavor.
3. Frisse Salad
"This salad highlights a frisee lettuce we've been sourcing from a new, local vendor we've recently started working with, Uriah’s Urban Farm in Tampa," says Grenier. "It's super light and chock full of seasonal ingredients, making it the perfect way to start a meal here." The resulting mix is a blend of Swank Specialty produce watercress with shaved fennel, persimmon, and pomegranate tossed in a zingy lemon vinaigrette.
2. Grilled Wianno Oysters
"We wanted to make use of the amazing tasso ham we get from Palmatto Creek that Brooke smokes and cures in-house, so I decided to incorporate it into a butter a pair it with my favorite oysters," says Grenier. A heaping spoonful of the resulting butter — flavored with the ham's sweet, tangy notes — is placed atop each fresh-shucked, Cape Cod Wianno oyster. From there, each are sprinkled with fresh herbs and toasted breadcrumb, grilled, and served on a piece of toasted bread. The idea is to pour the oyster- and ham-scented melted butter (along with the oyster) onto each slab of toast for the perfect two-bite appetizer.
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1. Milk Chocolate Cremoso
“Desserts have to hit all the right notes,” says Grenier. “They need that balance between art and nostalgia. They evoke flavors from our pasts in a way savory often doesn’t. I think the new desserts are among the best we’ve ever served and they definitely represent what our collective cooking style is.” Among the new selections created by the restaurant's longtime pastry chef, Huma Nagi, and in collaboration with Grenier and Mallory, a must-try is the milk chocolate cremoso. Grenier says to think of it as striking the perfect balance between fudge and pudding, a spreadable — yet firm — milk chocolate that's served with a scoop of housmade coconut ice cream, bruleed banana slices, and a handmade sesame tulle. Bonus: it's also gluten-free.
3030 Ocean. 3030 Holiday Drive, Fort Lauderdale; 954-765-3030; 3030ocean.com.
Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the BPB New Times Food & Drink Instagram