Restaurant Review: H2O Cafe, Ft. Lauderdale Beach.
(H2O Café dining patio)
This past weekend I recently had the pleasure to eat at the H2O Café on Ft. Lauderdale Beach. The weather was PERFECT last night, so outside dining was a definite. The 'newer' restaurant is located next to the Beach Place Entertainment Complex in the newly renovated Las Olas Beach Club Condo towers. There is a bar and seating inside, but you can't beat the large patio dining area. The views of the beach are breathtaking and the view is free! The menu items are reasonably priced considering the location. Two soft drinks (free refills), Bread Basket, one appetizer and two entrées came to $49.66 without tip. The portions are large and the flavor is spot on. The wait staff is attentive as well.
(H2O Café - Ft. Lauderdale Beach)
This is the view from the patio at sunrise. While they are open for breakfast now, I don't think they are open this early. (Breakfast is served until 3 PM). You get the picture on how lunch or an early dinner would be on the patio-
(View from H2O dining patio at sunrise)
We got sat at a high-top table which was perfect. It was night time so you really couldn't see the water, but you could hear the waves crashing. Our server took our drink order right away and bring back a bread basket. The bread was fresh and hot..and the 'dripping' concoction was made up of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, freshly grated Parmesan cheese and cracked pepper.
(H2O bread basket and dipping oil)
H2O's menu is rich in Italian flavors, but does mix it up with a few items like Fish Tacos as an appetizer. They service a variety of hot and cold appetizers too. Great assortment of options. We chose the Vongole e Calamari (Clams and calamari sautéed in a fresh tomato sauce with peas and a touch of wine. $9.95). It was served hot and fairly quickly. I'm not one to normally oder clams (in the shell), but these were excellent. The sauce was tasty and I even used my bread to sop it up. The calamari was done perfectly as well. It was tender and fresh. I will definitely order it again.
(Vongole e Calamari H2O appetizer)
They have an entrée for every taste and price point. They serve home made pasta and risotto at a reasonable price ($12.95 - $19.95 range)...which rivals any Italian restaurant off the beach. They serve seafood, chicken, steak, lamb and sandwiches. There is literally something for everyone. There is also enough 'twists' on most of the dishes to make them H2O's own.
I chose the Chicken Monterrey (Sautéed chicken breast topped with shrimp, button mushrooms, green onions, cherry tomatoes and a touch of lemon sauce. $15.95). The chicken is pounded flat and it comes in two pieces. The sauce was excellent. The shrimp were not 'huge' but did their job. They provided some texture and were extremely fresh. The vegetables were full of flavor and not overcooked. Why can't I make veggies like this at home?
(H2O's Chicken Monterrey entrée)
Jeff chose the Chicken Campagnola (Breast of chicken topped with spinach, mascarpone cheese, shallots, cognac cream sauce and gratinée with mozzarella cheese. $14.95). The chicken breast was also flattened and in between the two pieces was the spinach mixture. He loved it and would recommend it. I had a taste as well and it was full of flavor and done perfectly. And of course the cheese made it that much better. The Chicken Campagnola came with the vegetables and also roasted potatoes (the Monterrey had potatoes as well).
(H2O's Chicken Campagnola entrée)
The portions were huge, so of course we were too full to even think about desert. Maybe next time. The restaurant was quite busy as well...probably the busiest we walked in front of at 7 PM. I guess we are not alone in thinking this restaurant is quite good. Ft. Lauderdale Beach is definitely sprucing up it's restaurants and if the new hotels opening have offers such as H2O, they will give Las Olas a run for it's money.
There is also H2O Java to check out for your coffee fixes. It's right next to the restaurant and opens early. Reservations are not needed, but as tourist season kicks off...you might want to call ahead and make them.
H2O Café is located at:
101 South Fort Lauderdale Beach Blvd, Suite 202
Ft. Lauderdale Beach, FL
Hours: 8AM - 12 or 1 AM. Call to verify late dining cut-off. Bar is open later.
*Breakfast/Lunch may only be served 'in season' (December - March or April). Call ahead if visiting outside of those dates.
FTLToday's restaurant grade: A