Oh, Fort Lauderdale: We love and hate you at the same time. We love the sheer amount of great dining options in the area, but we hate how far you are from Miami. It’s no secret that driving in South Florida sucks — especially when you have to drive long distances.
Thanks to Brightline (soon to be Virgin Trains), all of these awesome restaurants are just a short train ride away. In around half an hour, the train service drops us off you in the heart of Downtown Fort Lauderdale. Instead of wasting time in traffic, you’re within walking/Sun Trolley distance of some of Broward’s top eateries.
That includes Etaru Las Olas.
The Fort Lauderdale outpost of the Japanese restaurant and cocktail bar is the brand’s second location; we wrote about the first one in Hallandale Beach a while ago. This location’s menu isn’t all that different, but the ambiance certainly is.
Unfortunately, there’s no amazing water view; the Hallandale outpost is a sight to behold at sunset. But while Las Olas lost the view, it won our hearts. There’s a real neighborhood vibe to it, unlike its sister location that’s off on the beach. You see all sorts of people here: beautiful couples on a date, area workers and regular Joe Shmos. It feels like you’re part of the community.
Etaru Las Olas combines that feeling with a reasonably priced tasting menu and stellar service — basically, a recipe for dining excellence. For the duration of your meal, you don’t feel like you’re in Miami. Items like the Black Kampachi Sashimi and Scallops with Yuzu Mayo take you on a journey … one that’s filled with flavors that will have your taste buds dancing up a storm. Vegetables like Asparagus With Sweet Soy Sauce and Broccolini with Ginger and Moromi Miso Dressing stand on their own, giving mains a run for their money.
It’s hard to beat the Black Cod, though. It looks simple, but there’s so much going on in the background. Dessert, on the other hand, is all up in your face: The monstrous platter is made up of sorbet, fresh fruit and other treats that aren’t overwhelmingly sweet, which is great since you’ve likely eaten so many calories by this point in the meal.
One thing to note: We were impressed by the speed of the kitchen. Etaru’s tasting menu is humongous, but everything came out quick — great for those on a tight train schedule. So if you’re concerned about spending hours at a meal and missing your train, don’t be. And even on the rare occasion that things run late, there are still plenty of trains on the weekend. With Brightline, getting to and from Fort Lauderdale (and Etaru) is a breeze.