Psst. If you live in South Florida, don’t tell anyone about this tiny, out-of-the-way restaurant located in the vicinity of downtown Fort Lauderdale. It’s really, really good, but it’s not very big, see? Once word gets out about the quality of food, well, you know how it goes with popular places that start our charming and friendly but run the risk of becoming a “one and done” eating establishment you enjoy with the intention of returning to soon, but when you finally do, you realize that now there’s a long wait for a table, parking has become an issue and the clientele…well, you get the idea.
We’re hoping Hardy Park Bistro stays exactly the way it is: A charming, unassuming little place that’s big on flavors and attention to detail.
The restaurant (aptly named because it sits right across the street from a city park that bears the name) is Fort Lauderdale’s newest eatery that is worth checking out. This particular Saturday we arrived around 9 p.m. after attending a downtown art walk event. I must admit I didn’t think we’d get seated as quickly as we did. A young woman had greeted us at the door and told us they needed to clear a table, but it would only be a few minutes.
The restaurant is spare but elegant (it was a barbecue restaurant in its former existence), containing seven tables inside; two tables located on one side in the front outside; as well as a pub-height bench table and chairs on the other side. HPB’s staff is very friendly and knowledgeable. The wine menu contained a respectable listing of reds and whites, all reasonably priced.
For dinner, we ordered the Grilled Octopus Salad with Arugula, Roasted Tomatoes, Garlic and Eggplant and the Grilled Salmon with Risotto Cake, Asparagus, Red Pepper Coulis and Basil. Both dishes were excellent. The salmon was cooked to absolute perfection. It was moist, yet flaky, and combined with the other ingredients, never felt overpowering. The Risotto Cake was phenomenal and contrasted nicely with the fish. We were both impressed. With dinner finished, our server asked us if we saved any room for dessert. We politely declined the offer, but perhaps next time we will take them up on it.
Oh yes, we will be back, Hardy Park Bistro…you can count on it.