When the Delray Sands Resort on Highland Beach recently introduced its newest restaurant, Latitudes, it vowed to take a different approach to a nautically infused menu and decor. Here, there are no salt-encrusted ropes, lobster traps, or weather-worn wooden signs that hang above tables – just pristine white sand views of the Atlantic and an unconventional theme of “bubbles.” Yes, you read that right, bubbles.

With the help of Opal Executive Regional Chef Andy Gayler and Regional Director of Food and Beverage Scott Luper, we get the inside scoop to Delray’s newest Florida hot spot, favorite dishes, and the best places to sit back and relax.

How do you even begin to design a seafood restaurant around bubbles?

Scott: We knew we didn’t want to look like a mom-and-pop seafood restaurant with lobster traps and expected decor. For us, it came down to something modern and sleek. We were between fish or bubbles because we wanted the space to feel connected to the depths of the ocean. Bubbles – done in a modern, subtle way – just worked. The blues, the grays, even the shading – we wanted it to feel like you were jumping into the ocean.

Andy: And we’re right on the water, so for us, it was all about the nautical theme, from decor to menu.

Is it obvious?

SL: Yes and no. I have a wild imagination. I wanted you to feel like you were underwater from the moment you entered. So we created this hand-blown glass bubble chandelier and placed it at the entrance. If you’re sitting at the inside bar at night, you’ll also notice the glass windows are actually panels filled with water that bubbles, and there are hints to the theme throughout the entire space.

AG: There are also these fantastic blues and grays that matched the sea and waves. It’s very nautical – hanging bubbles, diver’s helmets – but not too much. You know you’re in a seafood restaurant without having looked at the menu yet.

What are your favorite parts of the new space?

SL: The raw bar. The kitchen has become the central space in many homes – mine included. Everyone is hovering around the chef, wanting to talk and chat, so we brought that idea to the restaurant with an open-kitchen concept at the raw bar. Behind the bar, you’ll find a bartender, but you’ll also find a chef shucking oysters, preparing stone crab, even sushi.

AG: The outdoor fire pits. They make you feel like you’re dining right on the beach. At night, the pool is illuminated with colorful lights, and there’s smooth jazz playing, perfect for relaxing with a few friends, drink, and some locally caught seafood dishes. There’s also the Glass Room – private dining for up to 12 with floor-to-ceiling glass walls, so you can still experience the entire restaurant.

What about the menu, how the does that fit in?

AG: Well, common sense tells you to pull from the sea – I mean, it’s right there! The fish, like our tuna and mahimahi, comes in fresh every day. We wanted to incorporate that with food from the area so we can utilize all the freshest ingredients possible.

A new menu, new options, how about a new favorite?

AG: You can’t ask a chef that. [Laughs.]

There’s a rumor the lobster roll is flying out of the kitchen. What’s so special about the one at Latitudes?

AG: We let the lobster do the talking. Ours uses fresh Maine lobster seasoned lightly with mayo, salt, and pepper and placed on a toasted New England split roll bun. It’s as simple as you can get but tried and true.

Any other dishes with the same menu appeal?

AG: The lobster bisque flies off the menu, too. But it’s our Farmers Vegetable Soup that has surprised us. It’s refreshing and hearty with a great balance of white beans and tomato broth surrounded by locally sourced seasonal vegetables. We top it with a few morel mushrooms, spinach, and finished with a bit of pesto and Parmesan.

So what shouldn’t guests leave without trying?

SL: Brunch. We serve it in the oceanfront function room with a great view, and there are stations for everyone.

AG: Yes, definitely brunch! We wanted to stray away from the traditional big cakes and bagels, and instead we’ve created a collection of individual pieces. It’s all about miniatures – shooter glasses of dessert and gazpacho, single-serving eggs Benedicts, and omelets made right there with farm-fresh ingredients.

Where to Stay Delray Sands Resort