The Terrace Grill at the brand new Dalmar Hotel in Fort Lauderdale has potential, but at this factor, it’s a splurge that isn’t worth it. Like a preening festival contestant, the restaurant is stunning and knows it. But the stylish bar and eating room with dramatic excessive ceilings are undercut by means of lackluster execution of preferred American fare and flat carrier.
The Dalmar opened in January 2019 and the Terrace Grill followed in March. My latest first-time revel in turned into jarring. Never in my 30 years in South Florida did I think I might be eating a $60 piece of Dover sole at a boutique lodge overlooking the Fort Lauderdale Greyhound bus terminal.
I don’t know whether to label that progress or absurdity, however, the trip from the valet stand to our desk spotlighted the challenges confronted through such a formidable mission. As we parked, our institution caught a sturdy whiff of marijuana being smoked by way of a gentleman of amusement across the street. A bit later, we have been finding out a listing of $14 cocktails organized by means of a white-jacketed bartender below two chandeliers.
Gentrification, hallucination, what’s the distinction? After our organization changed into seated, different worries were extra pressing.
Dim lights intended I needed to use my iPhone flashlight to read the offerings and the din of the bar crowd — and a speaker system loudly playing “Girlfriend in a Coma” through the Smiths and “I Ran” through Flock of Seagulls — supposed I couldn’t pay attention our timid server listing the day by day specials. And I wasn’t pleased about the clunky valet parking device: I had to supply attendants my cellphone number and name (a fake one used for evaluate food) at the manner in and I needed to fish out a code to give our server to get a $7 cut price at meal’s to give up. At least the ’80s opportunity and new wave song pleased these vintage bones.
We had a more enthusiastic greeting from the valet attendants, who ran with umbrellas to escort us to the lobby on a wet night, than from our server. She didn’t ask if it turned into our first time at the 3-month-antique eating place and didn’t provide menu pointers or steering. She did, but, hand us a listing of premium wine bottles offered at half of-fee in June, consisting of a nice Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon from Alexander Valley for $67. It becomes an exceptional component all night.
Notice how I’m warding off the food. We’ll get to that, although a plate of six deviled eggs ($12) and a warm bowl of pitted olives ($eight) have been first-class shareable starters, the eggs dusted with crunchy mustard seed. A basket of warm bread from Gran Forno bakery featured gratifying multigrain and sourdough with the proper crust but a dry interior.
Hotel founder Jake Wurzak spoke earlier this yr approximately developing conventional dishes that aren’t too frou-frou, but a number of the choppy dishes coming from chef Craig McNeil’s kitchen have been lots gussied up, with streaks of sauces and heavy-passed coatings of flavored oil. Jumbo seared scallops ($32) have been served atop fregula that changed into gloopy and soupy in a sauce overwhelmed by means of tarragon oil, which gives an anise flavor. The wonderful jumbo Atlantic scallops didn’t have a proper crust, browned however soft. Roasted bird ($26) featured a juicy, sliced boneless breast over gummy spinach gnocchi and peas.
There had been different misses. Tuna tartare ($20) featured excellent cubes of sushi-first-class tuna with avocado on a mattress of cucumber slices slicked with basil oil, which detracted from the pristine tuna. Steak Frites ($38) featured a flavorful piece of top New York strip but it had no exterior char, got here out towards rare than the ordered medium uncommon and became an unusual reduce, with a ribbon of fats running thru the middle of the strip and not just along the brink. But there had been bigger troubles: When I hear fries, I assume skinny and crispy shoestring fries. These were thicker, medium-cut fries and a few have been soggy. The garlic-herb butter indexed at the menu that seemed so excellent on the eating place’s Instagram page didn’t make an appearance at the plate, only a tin of undeniable ketchup.
The menu is a mishmash that veers among millennial and vanilla: avocado toast, greens with hummus, pizzas, spaghetti pomodoro, pork chops, veal Milanese, the lobster roll. McNeil, a Scotsman who has worked at Scarpetta on the Fontainebleau in Miami Beach and Porto Cervo on Fisher Island, describes the Terrace Grill as “American bistro with flairs of Italian.”
Wurzak is responsible for overpromising and underdelivering. Earlier this year he informed my colleague, Rod Stafford Hagwood, “We wanted the whole lot to be a crowd-pleaser … We created a menu of factors that I love and that I experienced from my preferred eating places round the world. And then I discovered the high-quality chef in South Florida to prepare dinner.”
That’s quite a few stress to place on a chef and a kitchen. There has already been a turnover. Memphis Garrett, the Fort Lauderdale restaurateur in the back of such fast-informal successes as Poke House and Juice Bar & Cafe in Flagler Village, originally had a hand in the Terrace Grill and the Dalmar’s food and beverage operations, however, he is now not affiliated with the lodge.