By Tim Slivinski
Sea Level Restaurant
Marriott Harbor Beach
3030 Holiday Drive
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Many of us are familiar with the Marriott Harbor Beach Resort’s signature restaurant called 3030 Ocean. However, we may not even be aware that this fine hotel on the beach offers another dining option. Sea Level is a restaurant that is, quite literally, on the sand. In order to find it, you have to walk through the resort’s main floor and then wind your way past the gorgeous pool area with its plethora of lounge chairs, all lined up just so. Once you find it, it is a treat to look at the gorgeous water with its swelling waves, to feel the beach breeze, and to hear the power of the water. Tables are “beachy” looking, many of them dressed in sea green and ocean blue with chairs looking equally seaside in wicker and cushions. There are high-tops, dinner tables, and padded wicker sofas for lounging. An outdoor bar offers cocktails, and it is quite acceptable to come directly off the beach for lunch or dinner.
My partner and I stopped in on a warm, breezy Sunday evening when a dinner in a noisy crowded restaurant just did not seem appealing. As we sat down at our table, the roar of the ocean’s waves was at once calming and soothing, despite its power. We were greeted by Brittany, our smiling server and ordered cocktails.
Intrigued by something called crab salsa ($16.00), we decided to start our relaxing dinner with an order. When it arrived, it was a traditional salsa that was topped by lump crab meat, sprinkled with Old Bay seasoning. It looked delicious and seemed appropriate for our dining environment. Our first tastes did not disappoint. The coolness of the crab was a great foil to the spicy zest of the salsa. The sprinkling of Old Bay seasoning also helped to give this appetizer a bit of a kick. It was a bit messy to eat on the strips of tortilla that accompanied it, but that was part of the fun of the dish.
As we melted further into our chairs and looked out over the ocean, we pondered our main courses. Sea Level offers several cuts of steak with accompanying add-ons and sauces as well as a nice array of sandwiches and burgers. We, however, were craving seafood. Fresh fish options and preparations change regularly, so be sure to ask your server what is being offered. They are also printed on a large chalkboard inside the small area at Sea Level that offers indoor dining. From the choices, I selected scallops ($36.00) while my partner chose halibut ($35.00).
When our entrees arrived, they were plated with an eye toward color, making them look appetizingly beautiful. My scallops were quite large, but they were perfectly pan seared on the outside, giving them that little bit of crunchy glazing that makes scallops so delicious.
They were moist and slightly sweet on the interior, not in the least bit overdone, a sure way to ruin a scallop dish. Boniato mash, a root vegetable that is akin to potatoes, accompanied my scallops. They have a slight sweetness which is pleasant, though not quite as sweet as a yam or sweet potato. Grilled vegetables finished the plate. The b/f’s halibut was a sizable filet that was grilled and served atop a slaw. He pronounced his fish expertly grilled, as it flaked beautifully but was not at all dry. The herb used to season the halibut gave it an earthy, sort of smoky-woodsy quality that he found interesting and flavorful.
Realizing that both our entrees had been quite large, we did not have room for dessert, but opted to linger with after dinner coffee as we enjoyed our ocean view and breeze just a little longer.
Sea Level is open for both lunch and dinner seven days a week. It would make a great spot for after beach cocktails and munchies, and they offer special pricing on their appetizers between 5PM and 7PM. Sea Level offers its diners a place that is very much about the beach, and yet gives them a touch of class and elegance. It would be a perfect spot for lunch with out of town guests. Delicious food and a great view—it sums up Sea Level simply and well.