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Gesaria’s is the newest entry on Fort Lauderdale’s oceanside culinary scene, tucked inside the resplendently remodeled Cambria Hotel Fort Lauderdale Beach.
The space is part eatery, part lobby bar for the new beach-adjacent hotel, formerly the Lafayette Motel. The fare of small plates and shareables focus on a “mix with Floribbean style, sub-tropic food,” says Michael DeMaria, chief culinary officer and co-founder of M Culinary Concepts, a food and beverage consultant company.
So the menu includes chicken, pineapple and shiitake lettuce wraps for $14, chicken drumettes with dipping sauces for $17, margherita flatbread for $15 and a lemon shrimp cocktail with tomato horseradish sauce for $16
“There’s a flight of fries – barbecue and bacon aoli, we have the cheddar with the French onion dip and then we have the ranch fries with ketchup. Just the presentation on that is kind of fun.”
Large plates include a Cubano mojo-pork sandwich for $16, seared flat iron steak for $21, tuna salad croissant for $14 and an American angus burger for $16.50.
“And we have local fish tacos ($16) we are calling ‘taco du jour,’ ” adds DeMaria. “We want to feature different fish throughout the season.”
Gesaria’s seats 65 people and serves the small plates/large plates from 4 to 10 p.m. and there is a daily happy hour from 4-6 p.m. Breakfast is served from 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
“We do a great spin on breakfast,” says Kara Lundren, general manager of the Cambria. “We have an egg white omelet ($16) and it’s made with chicken and spinach and I can’t keep it stocked. It sells off the hook every day.”
M Culinary also brought in beverage specialist and certified cicerone (a beer sommelier) Zach O’Haire, who curated locally brewed beers from within a 50-mile radius, including a few progressive brands.
“We have Barrel of Monks [Brewing] in there, you know, in Boca Raton,” O’Haire explains. “They’re doing some really cool stuff. They’re Belgian focused and produce a beer called Single in Havana which is a … golden ale with guava. And that to me feels like Florida, you know? It’s got some of these subtropical fruit and things in it, but its still rooted in this foundation of traditional beer styles. “
Also on tap are brews from Fort Lauderdale’s Tarpon River Brewing and Oakland Park’s Funky Buddha Brewery. And there are sea salt pretzel sticks for $13 that come with a cheddar cheese fondue sauce made with a local IPA.
“The owner grew up in [Fort Lauderdale] and knows a lot of these guys,” adds O’Haire.
The Cambria Hotel Fort Lauderdale Beach broke ground for the major makeover from when it was the the Lafayette Motel in 2018. Motwani bought the property about 20 years ago.
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“The end game was to redevelop,” explains Lundren. “It was always a long-term goal when the property was first purchased.”
The new hotel, which had a grand reopening on July 20, is located in a quieter stretch of A1A between Sunrise and Oakland Park boulevards, just north of the tourist-laden Strip and across the street from the Auberge Beach Residences.
“We’re close enough, but far away enough to the heart of it all,” says Lundren. “So we bring just the next layer. It’s just a quick Uber or drive to the Strip or Lauderdale-by-the-Sea.”
The public/entertainment/dining/drinking spaces in the hotel will all be named after the Motwani children:
- Gesaria’s is the restaurant/lobby bar
- Maryella’s will be the rooftop bar (to open by the end of the year)
- Gianni’s Table will be the name of a second, more intimate, restaurant.
- Melina’s Ballroom is the main event space in the hotel.
Cambria Hotel Fort Lauderdale Beach is at 2231 N. Ocean Blvd., in Fort Lauderdale.