Q: Describe Harborwood for us. What’s the menu like? What’s the restaurant’s vibe?
A: Harborwood Urban Kitchen & Bar is the hub of our hotel. It’s one of the first things guests see as they enter our doors. The design is inspired by Fort Lauderdale’s local yachting culture; we have an awesome library area with bookshelves designed to look like boat rigging and a mural by local artist David Lavernia that pays homage to all the local canals and waterways. The ambiance is warm and inviting, like the feeling of being on the water with your closest friends.
Our executive chef, Greg McGowan, does modern-American cuisine that feels like upscale comfort food with bold, international flavors from Europe and South America. Our menus are versatile, so perfect for business lunches, intimate dinners, celebrating occasions, happy hours, and grabbing craft cocktails and light bites with friends before a night out in downtown Lauderdale. Some of our top menus items are our Exotic Mushroom and Fig Flatbread, Sky High Wings, and Ropa Vieja Tacos. For breakfast, the Corn Flake Crusted Brioche French Toast with a Dulce de Leche Drizzle and Ginger Maple Syrup is definitely one of my favorites.
Q: What do you like about your location? The downtown portion of Las Olas wasn’t historically known for restaurants and nightlife, but that’s changed in recent years. How do you see Harborwood fitting into that scene?
A: We’re right on Las Olas, with close proximity to all of downtown’s nightlife. Huizenga Park is right across the street and there are always events there, so we’re perfectly positioned to cater to that. We’re a place locals can just relax and have a great meal, reconvene after a workday, come and enjoy when they don’t feel like spending a night in the kitchen. I definitely think that once bars are open we’ll be seeing guests coming in for cocktails and dinner before they go out for the night.
Q: Obviously, this is an interesting time to start a restaurant. What concerns did you have about that? How have staff responded to the changes necessary in “the new normal”?
A: Opening at a slower pace has given us a lot of time to get to know our locals. Safety is always a top priority and concern, so we waited a little after government orders allowed restaurants to open for dine-in, just to ensure our staff was properly trained and everything we were doing was in line with necessary protocols and regulations. The staff has been amazing and so have our neighbors, who we’ve really enjoyed getting to know. The local hospitality community in Lauderdale is great and I think this experience is something that’s really encouraged everyone in the community to support one another.
Q: Anything else you’d like to share about Harborwood?
A: On the restaurant’s outdoor terrace, we welcome guests with their four-legged friends. We know lots of people don’t go anywhere without their pets these days.
The Dish: Corn Flake Crusted French Toast
with Dulce de Leche Drizzle, Maldon Citrus Butter and Ginger Maple Syrup
- 3 large eggs, whipped
- 1 tbsp condensed milk
- 1 tbsp Coco Lopez
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp nutmeg
- ½ tbsp vanilla paste or extract
- ¼ cup coconut milk
- ½ cup coconut milk
- 1 tbsp sugar
Dulce de leche drizzle
- ¼ cup dulce de leche
- 3 tbsp of evaporated milk
- ¼ lb of butter
- 1 tbsp of orange marmalade
- ½ of a fresh lime juice
- ½ of a fresh lemon juice
- ¼ zest of a lime
- ¼ zest of a lemon
- ½ zest of an orange
Ginger maple syrup
- 1 pint of maple syrup
- 1 oz ginger, freshly sliced
Whisk eggs in a bowl. Then add all ingredients and whisk until ingredients are combined. Set aside in fridge. This can be done one day in advance.
Dulce de leche drizzle
Combine in saucepan and warm on low heat. Mix until the milk has combined with the dulce de leche. Optional – finish with 1 tablespoon Malibu liquor.
Combine room temperature butter with all of the ingredients in a mixer. Mix on medium speed until everything is combined. The butter can be frozen for up to a month and used as needed. It is also a nice addition to warm muffins for scones.
Ginger maple syrup
Combine ginger and maple syrup in a pot and bring to a slow simmer for 10 minutes. Save the bottle. Next, let the syrup cool down completely with the ginger inside. Strain the ginger out and add syrup back to the bottle.
For assembly you will need 2 cups of corn flakes, crushed up. You can place them in a Ziploc freezer bag and crush with a pan or rolling pin. You want them to be a coarse bread crumb.
You need 3 pieces of 1-inch sliced brioche per person.
Preheat skillet on medium heat. Place crushed corn flakes on a plate.
Soak each piece of brioche in the custard for around a minute each. Place one side of the bread onto the corn flakes and press lightly to coat one side. Then immediately place on lightly buttered skillet. Repeat this process with the next two pieces of bread. Cook until golden brown on both sides – around 2 minutes each.
Cut the bread in half and layer it out on the plate. Drizzle with dulce de leche glaze. Serve with 1 oz of ginger maple syrup. Place citrus butter over the sliced brioche and lightly salt with Maldon sea salt. Next, add sliced strawberries and powdered sugar for garnish. You can also add micro greens or mint for color.