Morea, the restaurant on the ground floor of the Paramount apartments on A1A is from Lou, Joy and Amber Moshakos, the parent and daughter team of LM Restaurants, the same folks who own Oceanic in Pompano Beach and Two Georges at The Cove in Deerfield Beach.
The 275-seat dining spot features a stunning indoor dining room, a spacious bar/lounge area, and a waterfront patio. The menu highlights fresh, simply prepared small plates, mezze, and wood-grilled meats and seafood, complemented by handcrafted cocktails, and high-quality wines on tap.
Embracing the philosophy that meals are meant to be savored, and the table is a place to gather with friends and family, dishes are designed to be shared, the type of communal dining that is the heart and soul of the Mediterranean kitchen. The main dining room features a breathtaking two-story glass art wall installation by award-winning artist and Chihuly protege, Doug Frates, which is reminiscent of a Mediterranean sunset. Murals of Greek goddesses continue the theme.
The unique tap-wine system makes Morea an excellent place to sample a wider variety of fine wines than would be possible with the traditional option of decanting single glasses from a bottle. On the night of our visit, I planned to sample a few varieties but fell so in love with a rarely available glass of Bordeaux Blanc that I stayed with the vintage all night long. In addition to the wonderful wine selection (nearly two dozen by-the-glass options) there are two other attractions that make Morea worth a visit; the informal and informed friendly servers and the wonderful ocean views across A1A. If only the food maintained such a high benchmark. Sure, there were a few delightful dishes, but many just didn’t hit the mark.
The menu begins with shareable plates. Traditional Mediterranean treats such as citrus-cured olives and almonds, fritto misto, charcuterie boards, Moroccan beef skewers, chilled oysters, crudos, and octopus salad are joined by a burrata salad that suffered due to tasteless tomatoes. Bacon-wrapped dates were more successful and the beet-cured salmon with corn puree was a delight for the tastebuds as well as the eyes.
For our entrees we each chose one of the “from the land” and “from the sea” sections of the menu. The crispy skin salmon certainly delivered on its promise, with a bacon-like exterior and soft, moist flesh. The light dill sauce enhanced the flavor of the perfectly cooked fish. The rack of lamb was disappointing, as four flabby chops suffered from a lack of searing and an over-cooked interior. The accompanying yellow-pepper sauce did little to augment the flavor.
Dessert options are limited to three choices. The chocolate mousse was rich and decadent, and the salted whipped cream paired nicely with the rich, deep, cocoa flavor. But the chunks of salt gritted against the smooth texture of the dessert. My husband, who is particular about his cheesecake, really enjoyed the feta-based version at Morea. I felt the lumps of pungent feta detracted from the dish, while he enjoyed it. It certainly was a different interpretation, and to quote a line from “The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie,” “For those who like that sort of thing, that is the sort of thing they like.”
701 N. Lauderdale Beach Blvd., Fort Lauderdale
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