For years, the FAT Village Arts District built up as a home to both repurposed industrial-space galleries and new-build apartments and condos. It added a level of urban life that had not previously existed in Fort Lauderdale, but one thing was always missing – a cool, interesting restaurant that nearby residents could walk to and that would bring others to the area for something other than the monthly ArtWalks.
Then, last year, came Here and Now. The restaurant bills itself as a modern tapas place with craft cocktails, and with interesting takes on world comfort food served in coolly industrial chic surrounds, it’s been a good fit for its eclectic, artsy neighborhood.
“What our chef Sergio does is just make food that he likes to eat,” says Quinn Moore, the restaurant’s beverage director. “It’s nice comforting food, there are staples in different cuisines – kind of an elevated international American tapas style.” But, she’s quick to add, with portions that are not quite tapas-like if you just want to make a meal out of something. “We make sure that you don’t leave and have to have a second dinner.”
The cocktail side of things is equally important to what Here and Now is trying to do.
“I craft drinks from a very food-driven aspect,” Moore says. “When you take a sip I want you to experience as many senses as possible.”
Behold, for example, the Let’s Get Gin-ny Wit It – rhubarb ginger gin, orgeat, aromatic tonic, lemon juice and torched rosemary. It looks and tastes different than it smells, which is part of the fun. “For the beverage program I try to think about finding new fun ways to surprise you while still comforting you if you’re a little uncomfortable about going out of your comfort zone. I want you to feel like you’ve had something new.”
“Something new” is also a good description of the restaurant’s surroundings. “Here and Now fits so beautifully in an area like Fat Village,” Moore says.
That’s not to say everything has gone smoothly. The restaurant’s owner had the space for two years before being able to open because of city permitting issues, Moore says. Finally everything got sorted and the restaurant was able to have its grand opening – in March of last year.
“The timing of that proved to be really difficult,” Moore says.
But after two years of waiting, the people behind the restaurant were determined to make it work. They quickly turned their hand to takeout food and to-go cocktails, and patrons responded.
“You could see it,” Moore says. “The entirety of what kept them afloat was the people coming in to get takeout.”
In particular, Moore says, they saw many people from the big residential buildings that have sprung up nearby in recent years. They heard a lot from people who were attracted to living right in the city but who had been frustrated by the area’s lack of restaurants and bars.
That said, over time they have also built up a consistent, farther-flung clientele despite certain disadvantages.
“In spite of the fact that we have this really minimal parking in the area we still, week after week, are progressively getting bigger.”
In fact, things have gone so well that they now plan to open a second location in 2022. It’s still in early stages; Moore says they’d like the second place to be close enough to benefit from name recognition but far enough not to compete with the FAT Village location.
Moore first got to know Here and Now as a beverage supplier. A 10-year industry veteran who has worked in all aspects of the industry, she had thought about a time when she might open her own restaurant. Then she walked into Here and Now and discovered something that looked an awful lot like the restaurant in her head.
“The first time I walked in the building,” she says, “I was overwhelmed with the feeling that this was the closest thing I’d ever seen to what I wanted to create.”
The Dish: Short Ribs
- 7 bones beef short ribs
- 7 cups low-salt chicken stock
- 3.5 cups dry red wine
- 2 bulbs garlic crushed
- 2 sticks salted butter
- 7 tbsp soy sauce
- 4 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 3 tsp ginger powder or minced fresh ginger
- 1/2 cup orange juice
- 1/2 cup lemon
- 1/2 cup lime
- 2 tbsp ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp onion powder
- 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 yellow onions
Preheat oven to 400, season each short rib with salt and pepper, rough chop onions and add to the bottom of the pan then add the short ribs bone side up. Chop the fresh thyme and fresh rosemary and garlic and add to the top of the short ribs. Season with the ginger, bring to a boil your chicken stock and add the stock to the pan, and then add your soy sauce, Worcestershire, butter, lemon, lime, orange juice and red wine. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 31/2 hours.