There’s no crashing surf in sight, yet Hardy Park Bistro feels like it should be overlooking a beach.
Instead it faces the green swath of Florence C. Hardy Park with a dog-friendly patio surrounded by planters of lemongrass, sage and lavender.
The interior is white with candles lit at night and a semi-open kitchen in what was a 1950s laundromat. The menu changes weekly with a focus on simple, seasonal dishes cooked with integrity.
Chef-owner Philip Darmon grew up in Sydney, Australia, the son of an Aussie mother and Greek immigrant father. He drew inspiration from his maternal grandfather, who had a passion for cooking and persuaded Darmon to go into the restaurant business when he quit school at 16.
After a four-year apprenticeship, he worked in hotels in Sydney and London, then traveled the world as a yacht chef, landing in Fort Lauderdale. His wife does the books, and his brother-in-law is the resident handyman.
Lunch could bring fish tacos, salmon cakes or a pork belly and goat cheese sandwich.
A recent dinner menu offered chilled celery, apple and fennel soup with a swirl of sweet lemon basil; seared, rare, coral-color sliced salmon on a bed of mango quinoa; Maine lobster salad with grapefruit, shaved fennel, picked peppers and avocado tossed in basil and vanilla vinaigrette; and portobello mushroom and ricotta lasagna.
There were also pork chops with peaches, and fried polenta and hanger steak with roasted shallots. Specials included grilled cobia with coconut risotto and a burger with bacon, blue cheese and tomato chutney.
Finish with sweet potato and carrot pie with sour cream ice cream (call a day ahead to be sure they have it) for a dessert that just might be as sweet as a day at the beach.
Linda Bladholm is a Miami-based food writer.