By Jon Warech
Photography By Kelly Sterling
The Fort Lauderdale dining scene is experiencing a moment these days, and Terra Mare, an oceanfront eatery in the new Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach hotel on North Beach, looks to join the landscape. Terra Mare, which focuses on the art of shared plates, brings a fusion of surf and turf courtesy of executive chef Johan Svensson, who comes from BLT Steak and BLT Market in Honolulu.
“I learned a lot about cuts of meat in Hawaii, but also that there needs to be a good selection on the menu,” Svensson says. “The way we set up the menu, separating the sea and the land, is a different way of eating. What I like the most is that it’s the kind of food I would like to eat—plates you can share with your friends.”
Diversity is the key to Terra Mare’s menu, with options like the heritage breed kan kan pork chop with scallion sauces au par, harissa-spiced whole chicken tagine and filet-roasted red snapper for four. What stands out, though, is that all three of these dishes are carved tableside.
The tableside experience is a departure from the norm, but even more impressive is that this service will happen all day. In what the chef calls a “rip the Band-Aid off” move, Terra Mare will open from day one serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch.
“What I always wanted in a restaurant is one that is interactive—it’s more fun,” says the Swedish-born chef, who spent much of his career in New York City. “It’s enjoyable to see people with smiles on their faces as they eat food we created. Is it a risk? Sure, but if you don’t stick your neck out you’re never going to get rewarded.”
The menu also includes items such as braised octopus with gremolata and smoked paprika and tuna crudo with fennel-spiced and compressed watermelon, which plays on matching colors. The dining experience at Terra Mare not only comes on the plate, but also with the décor. Materials like driftwood, sea coral, agate and metals mesh the land and sea in atmosphere, and the tiered patio offers an incredible view along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean.
It’s a look that fits the newly opened Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach, a nautical-themed luxury oceanfront resort with 290 suites and a 20,000-square-foot ocean-facing pool deck. The hotel feels like a nod to the sand-and-surf history of Fort Lauderdale’s past and the resort-and-yacht culture that has emerged as of late. For Chintan Dadhich, general manager of the Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach, that vibe makes Terra Mare the perfect fit.
“Fort Lauderdale Beach is evolving with a new focus on style and sophistication, and Terra Mare’s caliber of cuisine elevates the city’s culinary scene,” Dadhich says. “Our guests and locals crave creative chef-driven experiences, and with Chef Johan and his team, every detail has been intricately designed and embraces our vision to provide an inspiring luxury experience.”
So far, Svensson feels he is fitting in nicely in Fort Lauderdale. “It’s a different kind of paradise, but it’s more my style of living,” he says.
This article originally appeared in the Fall 2017 Issue.