…And it sounds like a setup for a joke, but do’t be fooled, Terra Mare on Fort Lauderdale Beach is no joke, and the bar reference is just for the effect of the joke setup – this place is a full on, serious as a heart attack restaurant dream-come-true on the ocean. The new restaurant , located inside the Conrad Hotel, has learned how to separate the left from the right – and before we get into a political debate which would most likely put me to sleep more quickly than a documentary on the history of how paper is made, I’ll explain: Their menu is divided in to two sides. On the right, we have “Sea,” options made for pescatarians and lovers of all things fishy. On the left is a carnivore’s paradise, chock full of meaty “Land” options. Sprinkled throughout are heavenly veggie-only dishes, and all dishes, both small and large, are meant to be shared (shout out to all the people with “only child” syndrome here – in this case, you’re gonna want to try so many dishes that sharing really IS caring.)
But if you don’t start your meal off with a craft cocktail, did you really dine? I was feeling especially spicy that night (due in part to the dinner preceding a Philadelphia Eagles game and *cough cough* ultimate victory) so as soon as I saw that they had a drink called the “Jessica Rabbit,” my inner (and let’s be honest, outer) vixen screamed out in glee. The cocktail is a festive mix of Avion Silver, Combier, carrot, fresh OJ, lime, cilantro, and jalapeño. Basically the healthiest Margarita you could imagine. I gave myself the gold star for getting in my servings of fruits and veggies before the meal even started.
All things spicy – the Jessica Rabbit, does a body good. Dress (actually this is technically a nightgown that I got away with wearing in public) from Target.
My dining partner Katie refused to start the meal without a big ol’ helping of lobster. Now folks, this is a girl who gets down and dirty and actually goes lobstering on a boat every year, so her opinion in this matter certainly means more than mine. One bite in to the Chilled Lobster with drawn yuzu butter and she was on a boat ride to paradise.
It’s not really my M.O. to order, eat, and especially not salivate over vegetables of any kind (unless they’re garnishing my Bloody Mary). So when the Heirloom Tomato Salad appeared on our table, I felt like the kid who gets socks on Christmas. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong (see, I can admit that sometimes). We both agreed that these were undoubtedly the BEST tomatoes that we had ever eaten. Fresh, juicy and flavorful. They’re accompanied by stracciatella, crispy prosciutto and basil vinaigrette. The creamy cheese and salty cut of prosciutto rounded out the dish for a perfect bite. I’ll never look at tomatoes the same again. Same with socks. In my adult life, I definitely welcome socks as a gift.
Being as we’re in Florida and heavily influenced by the Cuban culture, it’s not unusual to see Empanadas on a menu no matter what type of restaurant; in fact, it’s expected. So we indulged in the Ropa Veja Empanadas. Don’t let the fact that they are under the “Small Plates” menu fool you – these babies are filling – they could be a whole meal (for normal people, that is. For me it’s just a pre-appetizer.)One of my favorite items of the meal was the Shishito Peppers. I’m starting to see Shishito Peppers popping up on more and more menus – Shishito Peppers are the new Brussels Sprouts and I ain’t mad about it. If you’ve never had one I highly recommend it. They aren’t spicy but do have a kick, and I prefer them when they are served charred (which these were; actually they are “Blistered). Terra Mare serves their version with a lemon saffron crème fraîche sauce that you’re gonna want to drink straight (but don’t – you should probably just order another cocktail instead).
If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you know that nothing turns my palette on quite like a perfectly seared scallop. It’s like the food equivalent of a shirtless Ryan Gosling – you just want your mouth all over it. Terra Mare nailed it (not Ryan Gosling, the cooking of the scallops. I’d have to go psycho bitch on them if they stole my man). Served with jalapeño-corn sponge and poblano, it was also the prettiest dish of the night.
Stuffed Date isn’t just a dish, it also is how my Tinder matches describe me after a meal. And just like dating me, this dish is a must-try. The Nduja Stuffed Dates wrapped in crispy bacon and romesco are a perfect small bite to whet your palette as you prepare your stomach for the meal of a lifetime. It’s another great combination of savory and sweet. Which I might need to add to my profile description on Tinder.
It wouldn’t be a complete seafood experience without my favorite 8-legged friend the Octopus. The Grilled Octopus at Terra Mare is served with smoked white bean puree, arugula, and lemon gremolata. The octopus has the perfect amount of char on it and I loved the tangy taste of the lemon gremolata that accompanied it.
It was finally entree time. Put Sea Bass on the menu and try to keep me from ordering it – it won’t happen. It is hands down my favorite fish, especially if someone else is paying. The Roasted Sea Bass is accompanied by miso glaze, baby bok choy, shitake, and forbidden rice. I don’t typically see sea bass that has a char on it but it made all the difference for me – the fish cut like butter and the crispy outside was like heaven on a plate. I could NEVER get tired of this dish, ever. I don’t do commitment, but when I do, this is what it looks like.
I had already given my heart away to the Sea Bass, but my heart grew double in size when I cut in to the most perfectly cooked steak I have EVER had. And that was the verdict from both of us – it was unanimous that this was THE BEST steak we had EVER eaten! Medium Rare, deliciously pink on the inside and (I know I’m using this next word a lot) a crispy char on the outside. I’ve been to plenty of upscale steakhouses, and Terra Mare blows them all out of the water. The roasted shallots and potatoes were heavenly, but you know me….
…I don’t go anywhere without trying the fries! The sweet potato fries were expertly salted. They left a smile on my face and footprints in my heart.
Although we were stuffed, the staff insisted on bringing us dessert, and boy was I glad they did. Nutella has the power to solve world peace, so their Nutella Chocolate Mousse is a no brainer. It’s served with pecans, sesame tuile and caramel ice cream. It’s one of the only things in the world that can shut me up – my mouth is way too busy shoving spoonful after spoonful to talk. We also sampled the Creme Brûlée, because there should always be room in your stomach for Creme Brûlée.
Dining at Terra Mare isn’t just a meal – it’s an EXPERIENCE – one that I highly recommend you indulge in!
***I received complimentary noms in exchange for this post, however, you cannot bribe me with food, so all opinions are my own.