Do not ask Daphnee Alva-Lafleur what is in the Hurricane cocktail at Rockport’s new Fleur Cuisine Harborside. The luscious fruity drink definitely has some Haitian rum in it, and some fresh-squeezed juice, and it definitely arrives tableside in a beautiful pineapple, with an orchid garnish. But beyond that, it’s proprietary, says Alva-Lafleur, who opened Fleur in Rockport last fall with her husband, Wanddy Lafleur.
There are a lot of secrets on the menu—from that Hurricane to what spices are in the clam chowder—but there’s no need to ask too many questions. It’s all fresh and delicious. The North Andover couple have devoted themselves to melding the New England cuisine of their home with childhood roots in Haiti, with stops along the way in New York and Miami.
As so many stories do these days, this creative combination started during the pandemic, when Lafleur, a busy executive with Outback Steakhouse, found himself stuck at home with plenty of time in the kitchen. His passion grew as he posted pictures of luscious food and drinks to Instagram, and the couple soon developed a following, launching a catering business that birthed the waterfront bricks-and-mortar spot in October.
The space, which housed Ellen’s Harborside for more than 40 years, emits a carefree Miami vibe, with an eye-caching tile wall in shades of aqua accenting the welcoming bar. In the dining room, soothing grays and a modern fireplace put the emphasis on cozy chic and a charming harbor view. A wraparound patio outside is first-come, first-served, and the staff is happy to seat folks there year-round, whenever the weather is amenable. We think a sunny January day with a secret pineapple drink on the deck—at one of the few places in Rockport with a year-round liquor license—is the perfect antidote to a New England winter.
But don’t wait until next winter to visit. All that pandemic exploration led to a menu of bold flavors that tweak classic dishes in delicious ways. Like the clam chowder: Creamy, but not too thick and packed with clams, it has a kick of heat at the end, provided by spices the couple would prefer to keep under wraps. If you’re looking for something with a bit more of a tropical bent, order the coconut shrimp. The airy batter, studded with coconut, encases moist, firm butterflied shrimp, but the real star is Lafleur’s Creole marmalade, a pineapple-based dipping sauce that we could eat by the spoonful.
The clam chowder and the coconut shrimp are among the few things on the menu that are not available gluten-free. Other appetizers, from the crispy fried plantains and the Caprese salad, dotted with gooseberries instead of the classic tomato, to the Caribbean wings are all naturally gluten free. The wings would be welcome on any occasion—slow-cooked and then hit with another secret blend of spices and charbroiled, they are nearly falling-off-the-bone luscious.
If you’ve filled up on appetizers, or just prefer a lighter main course, Fleur offers some hearty entrée-style salads, and a welcome spin on the current “bowl” craze. The Fiesta Pineapple Bowl is a half pineapple filled with spicy-sweet fried rice, roasted corn, peppers, tomatoes, and creole-influenced seasoning. The dish is a satisfying vegetarian meal, but you can get it topped with shrimp or sirloin steak marinated in—you guessed it—a secret spice blend.
This being Rockport, Fleur offers plenty of seafood options, including an indulgent Pan-Seared Sea Bass, dressed with a house spice blend and a deeply flavorful lemony-buttery sauce, served with creamy mashed potatoes and asparagus.
Desserts are made in house. We’d recommend the fluffy, rich rum cake, served warm with vanilla ice cream and an extra splash of Haitian rum. Perhaps pair it with a glass of cremas—a creamy alcoholic drink native to Haiti, featuring dairy milk, coconut, and Haitian rum, and available by the glass or by the bottle to go. Fleur crafts theirs using a recipe from Alva-Lafleur’s mother. Just don’t ask how it’s made. Simply enjoy.
1-T Wharf, Rockport, Massachusetts, 978-309-5199, fleurcuisineharborside.com