Dean James Max was crowned the King of American Seafood last month, besting 13 other chefs in a national cook-off in New Orleans. That’s no surprise to fans of his Fort Lauderdale restaurant, 3030 Ocean, which turns 10 in December. They know the chef rules. Max has had a lifetime love affair with the sea, and it shows in his pristine ceviches, butter-sweet lobster and perfectly cooked snapper. His sauces are so heavenly you’ll want to lick the plate.
Skeptics scoffed when Max set up shop at the Harbor Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, but he’s paved the way for fine dining restaurants in Fort Lauderdale beach venues. A two-time James Beard nominee, Max says more than half his clientele is local. And no wonder. Here’s an imaginative chef who takes some culinary leaps but doesn’t get overly cute with his cuisine. He changes most of the menu daily, so there’s always something different to try.
Ambience: A wall of windows with a view of the beach is a fitting backdrop for Max’s food. The dining room decor is light and subtle, with white tablecloths, candlelight and blond woods.
- A charming, attitude-free server
- A wine list with 250 choices, about 40 by the glass
- Max’s award-winning and sensational White Water Clams B.L.T. – small, steamed Sebastian Inlet clams nestled in a heavenly tomato broth spiked with basil, garlic, Calabrese peppers, smoked bacon, grilled romaine and sourdough
- Anjou pear salad with spicy pecans, Maytag blue cheese and mixed greens dressed in balsamic vinaigrette
- Ahi tuna coconut ceviche served in a coconut shell with a hint of sweetness and heat from a coconut milk fusion spiked with ginger, cilantro, scotch bonnet and jalapeño peppers
- Savory lobster bisque with tarragon cream
- Ultra rich duck and fois gras ravioli
- Grilled pork chops
- Bell & Evans chicken
- Apricot-glazed cobia with a coconut curry sauce
- Pan-roasted bronzini with white beans and wild mushrooms
- Outstanding, crisp-skinned, sautéed snapper served atop a mound of creamy white boniato puree with grilled scallions and a carrot-cumin foam Lightly seared wahoo served with perky mango slaw, delicious lemon risotto and sauteed white asparagus, baby squash, radishes and haricot vert
- Tender, juicy lobster served with a reduction of ice wine, fresh vanilla beans and fresh ginger
- A scrumptious blueberry tart
- Banana créme brûlée
- Rich, milk chocolate panna cotta with malt ice cream, salty caramel and a sprinkling of hazelnuts