The classy environs of North Ocean Boulevard seem a world away from downtown Fort Lauderdale, courtesy of Auberge Resorts, whose portfolio of classy properties borders on legendary. This particular luxury residence, the Auberge Beach Residences & Spa on a slice of wide-open Fort Lauderdale beachfront, plays host to Dune on its lobby floor; a restaurant that, six months after opening its doors, has already created something of a local stir.
Perhaps it’s the stunning beach setting or simply the apartment owners upstairs enjoying the convenience of excellent fine dining on their doorstep, but Dune has no shortage of hip and trendy suitors.
And it’s not hard to see why. The beach setting aside, the mood is distinctly contemporary blue hues; relaxing pastels to match the designer linens on show. Our table, on the outside terrace, is a prime spot with an unobstructed ocean view and a cooling breeze. South Florida’s smart set are sipping cocktails and the background music is late night techno jazz. As we sit I swear I sense envious glances towards our perch, desperately trying to place the faces that could land such a coveted spot.
Naturally, I pay no heed. Better to play it cool.
Lewis, our server, materialises with menus and baskets of warm sourdough and then just as efficiently dematerialises to let us contemplate the Latin-influenced array from Executive Chef Edgar Beas.
Right away we’re torn; a half dozen east ($17) or west coast ($22) oysters ready shucked with all the trimmings. “What’s the difference?” I ask Lewis, “Good question Andy, why don’t you try both and find out?” Good answer. So we do. And the answer is, one of us thinks the east coast slightly saltier, the other thinks the west coast slightly less flavoursome.
Next up a couple of salads. A beet salad ($13) with baby kale, sunchoke (looks like ginger but is a nutty flavoured root vegetable), walnut vinaigrette and herbed goat cheese. The refreshingly citrus dressing is a total knockout. A gem lettuce salad ($12) boquerones (marinated white anchovies), Panzanella (Italian bread and tomato) with a Caesar dressing is another total triumph.
So far, so spectacular then. I sneak a glance to some of our dining neighbours clearly still discussing our identities. Perhaps they’ve decided as we’re not obvious A-list celebrities we must be behind-the-scenes heavy-hitters.
Lewis is back with the mains. The Atlantic halibut ($34), with sweet corn nectar, tomato and clam relish and crispy pancetta is another intensely succulent winner. My prime Delmonico rib-eye ($45) with Yukon gold potato purée and béarnaise sauce is cooked exactly as requested; melt in your mouth texture with that Josper Grill induced crust.
We feel we’re on a roll here, and we strike gold again with the accompanying glass of wine; a sensational Pinot Belle Glos Dairyman Vineyard Russian River Valley 2017, a clear nod to Auberge Resorts’ Napa roots.
This is a culinary feast that leaves us so beaten and battered, but in a very good way I have to say, we have nothing left for dessert. Not a hope in hell. But that in itself is a good enough excuse to return.
My only concern is how it would look if we had to take a different table. Based on this food journey, it’s a gamble I’m willing to take anytime.
Food images (c) Colin Hockley
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