Hardy Park Bistro serves what’s in season

Hardy Park Bistro photos by Linda Bladholm for the Miami Herald
Hardy Park Bistro photos by Linda Bladholm for the Miami Herald

There’s no crashing surf in sight, yet Hardy Park Bistro feels like it should be overlooking a beach. 

Instead it faces the green swath of Florence C. Hardy Park with a dog-friendly patio surrounded by planters of lemongrass, sage and lavender. 

The interior is white with candles lit at night and a semi-open kitchen in what was a 1950s laundromat. The menu changes weekly with a focus on simple, seasonal dishes cooked with integrity.

Chef-owner Philip Darmon grew up in Sydney, Australia, the son of an Aussie mother and Greek immigrant father. He drew inspiration from his maternal grandfather, who had a passion for cooking and persuaded Darmon to go into the restaurant business when he quit school at 16. 

After a four-year apprenticeship, he worked in hotels in Sydney and London, then traveled the world as a yacht chef, landing in Fort Lauderdale. His wife does the books, and his brother-in-law is the resident handyman.

Lunch could bring fish tacos, salmon cakes or a pork belly and goat cheese sandwich. 

A recent dinner menu offered chilled celery, apple and fennel soup with a swirl of sweet lemon basil; seared, rare, coral-color sliced salmon on a bed of mango quinoa; Maine lobster salad with grapefruit, shaved fennel, picked peppers and avocado tossed in basil and vanilla vinaigrette; and portobello mushroom and ricotta lasagna. 

There were also pork chops with peaches, and fried polenta and hanger steak with roasted shallots. Specials included grilled cobia with coconut risotto and a burger with bacon, blue cheese and tomato chutney. 

Finish with sweet potato and carrot pie with sour cream ice cream (call a day ahead to be sure they have it) for a dessert that just might be as sweet as a day at the beach.

Linda Bladholm is a Miami-based food writer.