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  HOTELS RESTAURANTS
  MIAMI
De Soleil South Beach
(formerly The Hotel Vincci)
The Grove Isle Hotel & Spa
The Setai

PALM BEACH
Eau Palm Beach
(formerly The Ritz-Carlton Palm Beach)

KEY WEST
Beachside Resort 

BOCA RATON
Café Joley  
Cielo

FT. LAUDERDALE
3030 Ocean
Johnny V's

KEY WEST
The Dining Room
Nine One Five
Opera
Opus 5
Roof Top Café

MIAMI
Alta Cocina
Atrio
Azul at Mandarin Oriental
Baleen
Chef Allen’s
La Cofradia 
The Lido
Lola's on Harrison
Michael's Genuine Food & Drink
Neomi’s
North One 10
One Ninety
The Oceanaire Seafood Room

MIAMI BEACH
Bistro One LR
Creek 28
DiLido Beach Club
Emeril's at Loews
Nobu Miami
Table 8
Touch

PALM BEACH

Café Boulud
Solu

 

South Florida Travel
By Amanda McDougall with Antoinette Bruno and Will Blunt
April 2008

Seasonality has two meanings in South Florida. It’s not just about peas in the spring, tomatoes in the summer and citrus in the winter. It’s about tourists and part-time residents fleeing from the cold temperatures up north to enjoy the warmth and sun-drenched beaches of places like Boca Raton, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami, Palm Beach, and The Keys. High season falls between mid-December and mid-April, and in those few months most restaurants and hotels have to make the most of the 80-plus million travelers who make Florida a travel destination each year.

With transient customers comes transient staff: Cafe Boulud chef Zach Bell says he does all his business in three months of the year, and cuts his kitchen staff from 44 during peak to just 11 in the off season. Needless to say, it’s a huge challenge for South Florida chefs to hire and train staff that will only be there for a few months, and are likely to not return the following season.

Hotel restaurants typically enjoy more cushion than independent restaurants with greater budgetary leeway and the ability to offer more permanent positions, as well as a more steady stream of customers from hotel guests. But often the deeper hotel resources come at a non-financial cost: creative limitations and a different, perhaps less culinarily adventurous clientele. One chef at a South Florida hotel was recently complaining about the fact that his customers keep asking for mini burgers; another griped “I’m sick of rich old people’s food!”

Finding the right match between a hotel restaurant and a chef is vital to a happy marriage. And the type of relationship between the two can vary from monogamous (the restaurant is operated and owned by the hotel) to a more open and autonomous one (essentially an independent restaurant located within a hotel). Executive Chef Kurtis Jantz, for example, runs not only the Trump Sonesta’s fine dining restaurant Neomi’s, but also the beach and pool service, in-room dining, catering, and two lounges.

For the independent restaurants outside of a hotel, short of having huge financial backing and a massive marketing plan, the key to success in South Florida is developing a steady local customer base with approachable, delicious food.

Michelle Bernstein’s Michy’s, Michael Schwartz’s Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink, and Alan Hughes’ One Ninety are perfect examples of triumph. Hughes specifically avoided the Miami Beach area when he was looking to open One Ninety for two reasons, as he cites: “one, it’s crazy at the beach,” and secondly the huge overhead costs. Finding the home for his 40-seat restaurant in Little Haiti – “a little bit of a ghetto” as Hughes puts it – meant low rent, a 10 year lease, and not having to cater to the tastes of tourists. All of his staff is permanent, his customer base is local, and his customers usually make the trip out to the “ghetto” explicitly to avoid the glitz and glam of Miami Beach. Another model for success is Cacao, where Chef Edgar Leal taps into the prevailing local tastes and culture to serve Miamians Latin-inspired cuisine.

On the other hand, the fiery failures of La Broche (Sergi Arola’s fleeting crack at bringing Spain’s edgy Nueva Cocina to Miami) and more recently Karu & Y, both featuring ambitious and very progressive cuisines offer words of warning: South Florida may not be the market for people to push the culinary envelop.

Despite the trials and travails of a seasonal business or garnering a strong local following, many South Florida chefs are flourishing. They are coming into their own with a considerable array of international influences, quietly innovative and delicious cuisine. The market and the interest for exciting – if not the most cutting edge – cuisine is certainly at hand in the sunny, sub-tropical region of South Florida. Figuring out how to make the most of it, in three, six, or twelve months a year, is the question the chefs will have to answer.

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BOCA RATON

Chef Suley’s Kaitafi-Wrapped Prawns on StarChefs.com

Chef Suley’s Kaitafi-Wrapped Prawn

Café Joley
187 S.E. Mizner Boulevard
Boca Raton, FL 33432
561 361 4224
Wed to Mon 11am-5pm; 5pm-10pm
Sat-Sun 11am-5pm

Chef/owner John Suley has accomplished a lot for his young age, having worked for several Michelin-starred European chefs and opened two successful restaurants: Café Joley in Miami, and the one we went to in Boca. Suley is serious about his craft, and his southern American-slash-European brasserie style cuisine is tasty and comforting. Two dishes in particular stand out: the kataifi-wrapped shrimp with sweet potato puree and collard greens and a chorizo-butter sauce, and his almond-crusted lamb with merguez sausage.

We Recommend:
Kataifi-Wrapped Shrimp with Sweet Potato Puree, Collard Greens, and Chorizo Butter Sauce (recipe)
Lamb Quattro: Almond-Crusted Chop, Phyllo-Wrapped Shank, Braised Leg, and Merguez Sausages with Cumin Mint Sauce

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Chef Eagle’s Crab Cannelloni with Pear Wrapper on StarChefs.com

Chef Eagle’s Crab Cannelloni with Pear Wrapper

Cielo
Boca Raton Resort and Club
501 East Camino Real
Boca Raton, FL 33432
561 447 3640
Tue-Sat 12pm-2:30am; 6pm-10pm
Sun 11am-3pm

Executive Chef Christopher Eagle’s cuisine embodies simple elegance with near flawless execution. Common ingredients and flavors are brilliantly updated, like the beetroot mousse, raspberry-pink in color, with goat cheese crumbles. The Crab Cannelloni looked like Vietnamese summer rolls (with rice paper wrappers) but the wrapper is actually thin slices of Bartlett pear holding together the delicate peekeytoe crab salad. Italian-native and wine boy-wonder Roberto Colombi’s pairings are outstanding with Eagle’s sophisticated fare. His pairing of an Alto Adige Gewurztraminer with Foie Gras is an inspired and refreshing break from the tried and true Sauternes. 

We Recommend:
Crab Cannelloni with Pear, Vanilla, and Melon (recipe)
Foie Gras Torchon with Quince, Duck Glace, and Plum
Duck Breast with LePuy Lentils, Confit Leg Ravioli, and Mustard Fruits

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The dinning room at Opus 5 on StarChefs.com

The dinning room at Opus 5

Opus 5
5050 Town Center Circle
Boca Raton, FL 33486
561 544 8000
Mon-Fri 11:30-2:30pm
Mon-Thurs 6pm-10pm
Fri-Sat 6pm-12am
Sun 6pm-9:30pm

Located in the Boca Center, a high-end strip mall, this modern American restaurant offers a sedate scene for lunch but blurs the line between restaurant and bar in the later evening hours. The dining room is contemporary in design with cool, pale yellow circular booths, and a back-lit full-service bar. A covered patio offers outside dining as well. Chef John Belleme’s cuisine at Opus 5 is American at its roots with Mediterranean and Asian accents, running the gamut from potstickers to lobster Bolognese to Blackened Chicken Paillard with a chipotle-lime vinaigrette.   

We Recommend:
Barbecued Pork “Chateaubriand” Wrapped with Apple Wood Bacon

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FT. LAUDERDALE

Grilled Florida Pompano on StarChefs.com

Grilled Florida Pompano

3030 Ocean
Marriott's Harbor Beach Resort & Spa
3030 Holiday Drive
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33316
954 765 3030
Sun-Thurs 6pm-10pm
Fri-Sat 6pm-10:30pm

It’s all about modern American seafood at Executive Chef James Dean Max’s 3030 Ocean. Max and his chef de cuisine Paula DaSilva roll out delicately balanced, incredibly fresh, and elegant dishes amid a modern wood-paneled dining room with ocean-themed design elements. The Grilled Beef Tenderloin’s black polenta accompaniment is rich, but not buttery, and had dual textures of creamy corn and large corn kernels that elevated the dish – with no less than perfectly cooked tenderloin – from great to excellent.

We Recommend:
Grilled Florida Pompano, Bok Choy, Corn, Mushrooms, Pea Sprouts, Lemon Thyme Sauce
Grilled Beef Tenderloin, Sweet Onion Gratin, Pea Tendrils, Cabernet Sauvignon Sauce


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Pastry Chef Espinel’s Spanish Parfait on StarChefs.com

Pastry Chef Espinel’s Spanish Parfait

Johnny V's
625 E Las Olas Boulevard
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
954 761 7920       
Mon-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm
Sat-Sun 12pm-2:30pm
Sun-Thurs 5:30pm-11pm
Fri-Sat 5:30pm-12am

Pastry Chef Malka Espinel has been leading Chef Johnny Vinczencz’s pastry department since his days at Astor Place in Miami Beach. Espinel’s desserts are definitively American with playful tropical and Latin twists – everything is familiar but innovated and stylishly presented.  The Three Berry Crème Brulee “Pot Pie” is a perfect example: the crème brulee has a graham cracker and macadamia crust; whole berries in the custard; and is plated amidst an artfully painted plate.

We Recommend:
Three Berry Crème Brulee “Pot Pie” (recipe)
Spanish Parfait with Cinnamon Cake, Rhubarb Compote, Flan Mousse and Churros
Guanabana and Strawberry Cobbler with Brazil Nut Crumble and Panela Ice Cream

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KEY WEST

Stone Crab Terrine with Avocado-Soft Herb Salad from The Dinning Room on StarChefs.com

Stone Crab Terrine with Avocado-Soft Herb Salad

The Dining Room
Little Palm Island
28500 Overseas Highway
Mile Marker 28.5
Little Torch Key, FL 33042
305 872 2551

Mon-Fri 8am-10:30pm; 12pm-2:30pm
Mon-Sun 6pm-9:30pm
Sat & Sun 10:30am-2pm

A real fantasy island experience, The Dining Room is located on Little Palm Island accessible only by boat or seaplane. The property is gorgeous and dreamy, filled with palm trees and thatch-roof bungalows, and the restaurant is open-air overlooking a pristine beach. Chef Louis Pous is a serious yet humble chef who executes sophisticated Cuban-influenced food with inspired plating.

We Recommend:
Stone Crab Terrine, Avocado-Soft Herb Salad, Tomato Water and Olive Oil
Seared Cobia, Charred Poblano and Avocado, Orange and Vegetable Escabeche

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Chef Otten’s Tuna Dome on StarChefs.com

Chef Otten’s Tuna Dome

Nine One Five
915 Duval Street
Key West, FL 33040
305 296 0669
Mon-Sun 6pm-11pm

Executive Chef Chris Otten doesn’t fit the typical chef mold: he worked at exactly one restaurant before being brought on to run the Nine One Five kitchen. But his clean and straightforward food doesn’t reveal a lack of experience on his side. He cleverly mocks the look of a raw, peeled tomato with his signature Tuna Dome (slices of raw red-hued tuna wraps a crab salad), and the Sizzling Thai Whole Fish, propped upright on a bed of cabbage with eyes, tail, fins and all, looks like it just might swim right off the plate. Otten’s smart presentations, great execution, and bright flavor combinations are noteworthy, and we’re looking forward to watching him take his talent to further heights.

We Recommend:
Tuna Dome: Ahi Tuna Sashimi and Fresh Dungeness Crab with Lemon-Miso Dressing
Sizzling Thai Whole Fish with Sizzling Chili-Garlic Sauce
Life by Chocolate: Semi-Frozen Chocolate Mousse with Bitterweet Chocolate Sauce Cocoa Nib Wafer and Chocolate-Chili Wafer

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Chef Bek-gran’s Ahi Tuna Tartare on StarChefs.com

Chef Bek-gran’s Ahi Tuna Tartare

Opera
613 Duval Street
Key West, FL 33040
305 295 2705
Tues-Sun 6pm-10pm

Chef Patrick Bek-gran reinterprets Italian cuisine at his upscale casual restaurant Opera. Housemade gnocchi and pasta dishes are well-made and flavorful, but where this chef’s talents really shine is in his handling of fish. A “primi” of ahi tuna tartare is so fresh, gently handled, and minimally dressed it didn’t need anything else. The Scottish salmon is absolutely delicious, literally mouth watering, juicy, and bursting with the flavor of the sea – not something you can usually say about this fish. And the grouper is meaty, juicy, and rich – impeccably executed.

We Recommend:
Ahi Tuna Tartare with Capers, Chives, Shallots, and Lemon-Pressed Olive Oil
Grilled Scottish Salmon with Green Olive Tapenade and Poached Artichoke Salad
Pan Sauteed Local Grouper with Mashed Potatoes and Spinach Salad


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Roof Top Café
308 Front Street
Key West, Florida 33040
(305) 294-2042
Mon-Sun 9:30am-4pm; 5:30pm-10pm

Brendan Orr is the lively, talented chef of the charming Roof Top Café in Key West. Orr has worked in the keys for the last 8 years, and prior to that lived in Paris for 3 – his background comes through in wholly delicious dishes based on seasonal products and an ambitious and varied menu. New World Cuisine flavors are intermixed with Mediterranean touches, and the end result is food that is simple and very tasty. Crab salad and beef satay are excellent, the Cuban sandwich is spot-on, and the bloody mary is one of the best around.

We Recommend:
Crab Salad with Citrus, Avocado, and Ginger Vinaigrette
Beef Satay with Curry Jicama Slaw

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MIAMI

Chefs/Owners Juan Mario Maza and Vani Maharaj on StarChefs.com

Chefs/Owners Juan Mario Maza and Vani Maharaj

Alta Cocina
5837 Sunset Drive
South Miami, FL 33143
305 662 7435
Tue-Thu 11:30am-2:30pm; 6pm-10:30pm
Fri 11:30am-2:30pm; 6pm-11pm
Sat 6pm-11pm
Sun 6pm-10:30pm

Alta Cocina blends the flavors and heritage of husband-and-wife team Juan Mario Maza (a Guatemalan native) and Vani Maharaj (from Trinidad and Tobago). Curry spices, tamarind, and cilantro are blended with Latin, Asian, and Mediterranean ingredients and techniques, creating a highly international and diverse range of flavors.

We Recommend:
West Indies Style Curried Chicken with Roti
Fusion Del Rabo: House-made Gnocchi with Gorgonzola Sauce and Pulled Braised Oxtail

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Fresh Water Eel and Foie Gras at Atrio on StarChefs.com

Fresh Water Eel and Foie Gras at Atrio

Atrio
The Conrad Hotel
1395 Brickell Avenue
Miami, FL 33131
305 503 6529
Mon-Fri 6:30am-10:30am, Sat-Sun 6:30am-11am
Mon-Sun 11:30am-2:30pm
Sun-Thurs 6pm-10:30pm
Fri-Sat 6:30pm-11pm

Great views of Miami are seen from this restaurant perched atop the Conrad Hotel, while Chef Michael Gilligan’s cuisine offers inspiring “views” of Asian, Mediterranean, and Puerto Rican flavors. Gilligan’s unorthodox menu is organized by flavor profile and temperature (“Cool and Crisp,” “Robust and Savory”), and is nicely balanced with seafood, meat (including several game meat options), and vegetarian options. Seared ostrich loin makes an appearance; it is delightfully gamey and served with a velvety sweet potato brulee.

We Recommend:
Pan Seared Day Boat Sea Scallops with Satueed Morcilla Slice with Cous Cous Tabouleh, Chili-Garlic-Yuzu Sauce
Fresh Water Eel and Foie Gras with Tostones, Ice Wine Gelee, and Shiitakes in a Truffle Dashi Jus
Pan Seared Citrus Salted Ostrich Loin with Roasted Pepper Sofrito, Sweet Potato Brulee, and Pearl Onion-Bacon and Rioja Sauce

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Orechiette Nero with Turks and Caicos Conch on StarChefs.com

Orechiette Nero with Turks and Caicos Conch

Azul at Mandarin Oriental
500 Brickell Key Drive
Miami, FL 33131
305 913 8288
Mon-Fri 12pm-3pm
Mon-Sat 6:30pm-11pm

Azul’s chef Clay Conley is all about bringing his personal experiences to his food. Every dish has a story behind it, and Conley is continuously roused by his surroundings: his yogurt-marinated swordfish is an homage to an Indian exchange student who was living with him.  His sophisticated, reinterpreted ethnic cuisine focuses on Asian and Middle Eastern flavors that reflect his travels to Japan and Morocco – it’s an inspiring and delicious menu. As if the wonderful food weren’t enough, sommelier Cynthia Betancourt gracefully pairs innovative, small wine producers with Clay’s challenging dishes. She is charming, knowledgeable, and ambitious (studying to become a Master Sommelier), and her wine pairings reflect her passion.

We Recommend:
American Lamb, Moroccan-Style: Lamb Bastilla, Harissa, Charred Eggplant, Cucumber, Feta (recipe)
Orechiette Nero: Turks and Caicos Conch, Hot Italian Sausage, Native Basil, and Toasted Tomato
Yogurt Marinated Swordfish, Toasted Pita and Tomato Salad, Minted Yogurt, Brown Butter Sauce, and Cashews


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Local snapper on a frozen slab of ancient rock salt from baleen on StarChefs.com

Local snapper on a frozen slab of ancient rock salt

Baleen
The Grove Isle Hotel
4 Grove Isle Drive
Coconut Grove, FL 33133
305 857 5007
Mon-Sat 7am-3pm; 7pm-10pm
Sun 11am-2pm

Chef Jesse Souza’s cool use of ingredients and good culinary curiosity – along with the background of monkey chandeliers – give substance to Baleen’s motto “Serious food. Whimsical mood.” Souza’s menu features a wide array of seafood with Asian and European flair. And the chef’s cold and hot uses of heavy slabs of pink-tinged ancient rock salt are compelling and delectable. Set within The Grove Isle Hotel, Baleen wears the tropical resort ambiance well, and offers stunning views of Biscayne Bay.

We Recommend:
Raw Seafood of the Day on Cold Ancient Rock Salt
Kobe Ribeye Cooked Tableside on Hot Ancient Rock Salt

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Roasted Local Mangrove Snapper from Chef Allen's on StarChefs.com

Roasted Local Mangrove Snapper

Chef Allen’s
19088 NE 29th Avenue
Miami, FL 33180
305 935 2900
Sun-Thurs 6pm-10pm
Fri-Sat 6pm-11pm

A Miami institution, Chef Allen’s is home to local celebrity chef Allen Susser. Susser is famous for welcoming stages into his kitchen, and has been an incubator for many aspiring chefs. The menu makes the most of Susser’s talent for incorporating fruit into his savory dishes (mango, citrus, and dried apricots make regular appearances), and blending in Creole, Caribbean, and South Florida flavors.

We Recommend:
Wild Florida Shrimp with Israeli Cous Cous and Banyuls Reduction
Roasted Local Mangrove Snapper with Saffron Mashed Potato, Chick Pea Stew, and Haricot Vert

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Chef Desmaison’s Lomo Saltado Risotto on StarChefs.com

Chef Desmaison’s Lomo Saltado Risotto

La Cofradia
160 Andalusia Avenue
Coral Gables, FL 33134
305 914 1300
Mon-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm
Mon-Wed 6pm-10pm
Thurs-Sat 6pm-11:30pm
Sun 5:30pm-10pm

This Coral Gables location is the sister restaurant to a very successful restaurant in Lima, Peru of the same name. The restaurant is airy and modern with tall ceilings, a huge frieze on the ceiling, and colored with warm earth tones and wood to give it a welcoming atmosphere. Chef/co-owner Jean Paul Desmaison is at the helm melding his native Peruvian flavors with those of the Mediterranean in an updated format.

We Recommend:
Slow Braised Pork with Grapes, Pisco, and Fried Sweet Potato Rounds
Lomo Saltado Risotto: Beef Tenderloin Sauteed with Onions and Tomato with Parmesan Risotto and Fried Quail Egg

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Chef Zeitouni’s Vegan Fritto Misto on StarChefs.com

Chef Zeitouni’s Vegan Fritto Misto

The Lido
The Standard Hotel
40 Island Avenue
Miami Beach, FL 33139
305 673 1717
Mon-Sun 7am-12am

Decadent and healthy. Not two words you often see together, but this describes Chef Mark Zeitouni’s food at The Lido. Zeitouni has a very cohesive approach to his food: fresh and healthy with a premium on how his guests feel after they eat. Butter is scarce in his kitchen; in its stead Zeitouni successfully employs freshly squeezed vegetable juices. Onion juice, for example, is a standby replacement for meat stocks. The chef’s vegan interpretation of the traditional fritto misto is a pretty, multi-textured bowl of crisp and light seasonal veggies with a pile of lightly crisped chickpea fries and a side of eggless garlic aioli for dipping – decadent and healthy, indeed.

We Recommend:
Vegan Fritto Misto with Eggless Garlic Aioli
Sauteed Local Snapper with Falafel “Puree” and Citrus Vinaigrette

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The Coca-Cola BBQ Beef Ribs on StarChefs.com

The Coca-Cola BBQ Beef Ribs

Lola's on Harrison
2032 Harrison Street
Hollywood, FL 33020
954 927 9851
Tue-Thurs & Sun 5pm-10pm

Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm

A modern American bistro and wine bar, Lola’s has an inviting and relaxed neighborhood vibe to it. The white Lucite table tops and bar highlight the simple gray and wood tones in the décor that give the restaurant a contemporary look. Chef Michael Wagner’s reinvented American cuisine is bold in every way, from flavor profile to portions – the Double Cut Pork Chop is enormous! Wagner’s signature Coca-Cola BBQ Beef Ribs, draw in the crowds, and  are fun and creative.

We Recommend:
Coca-Cola BBQ Beef Ribs with Buttermilk Onion Rings, and Creamed Yellow Corn
Double-Cut Pork Chop with Molasses and Honey Glazed Acorn Squash, Garlic-Roasted Asparagus, Amaretto-Whole Grain Mustard Sauce
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Pastry Chef Goldsmith’s Maple Pecan Tart on StarChefs.com

Pastry Chef Goldsmith’s Maple Pecan Tart

Michael's Genuine Food & Drink
130 N.E. 40th Street, Atlas Plaza
Miami, FL 33137
305 573 5550
Mon-Fri 11:30am-3pm
Mon-Thur 5:30 pm-11pm
Fri 5:30 pm-12am
Sat 6pm-12am
Sun 5:30pm-10pm

Chef Michael Schwartz consistently creates earthy rustic dishes with creative use of textures, flavor profiles, and near flawless execution. We loved each and every dish, especially the Crispy Black Grouper Cheek and Sweet and Spicy Pork Belly. On the sweet side, Pastry Chef Hedy Goldsmith stands out in the Miami pastry scene with desserts that demonstrate creative, sophisticated flavor profiles and plating. Her Granny Smith Apple and Walnut Streusel Panini was a very imaginative dish using the pressed sandwich as a dessert. The restaurant is located in a hip, artsy area and has a gallery feel to it with paintings on the walls and a cool, large hanging installation of red boxes on the ceiling.

We Recommend:
Crispy Sweet and Spicy Pork Belly with Kimchi, Crushed Peanuts, and Pea Shoots
Crispy Local Black Grouper Cheek with Creamy Fregola, Preserved Lemon, and Basil
Key Lime Cheesecake Flan with Macadamia Shortbread, Tropical Fruit Salsa, and Passion Fruit Coulis
Candied Granny Smith Apple and Walnut Streusel Panini with Crème Fraiche Caramel Sauce

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Chef Jantz’s Shrimp Causa on StarChefs.com

Chef Jantz’s Shrimp Causa

Neomi’s
Trump International Sonesta
18001 Collins Avenue 
Sunny Isles Beach, FL 33160
305 692 5770
Daily 7am-6pm; Dinner 6pm-10:00pm

Neomi’s, located in the Miami Trump International Sonesta, has a classic fine dining air with muted colors and formal upholstered chairs, but the food is anything but. Executive Chef Kurtis Jantz’s and Pastry Chef Fabian di Paolo’s presentations are artistic and inspiring. Jantz uses exciting techniques from the world over – from Japan to Peru to France to Spain – and applies them with restraint and excellent execution. The Shrimp Causa speaks to this: it has the bright, classic colors and flavors of South America with avocado oil-poached shrimp, aji amarillo chile, and onion. Di Paolo’s Buffalo Gelato dish hits all the right notes with the daring flavor combinations, progressive techniques, and remarkable texture contrasts. It’s no small feat to successfully combine a savory-sweet buffalo gelato with olive oil cake, gianduja croquant, coconut and licorice froth, and mint croquette.

We Recommend:
Shrimp Causa with Gold Potato, Aji Amarillo, Rocotto, and Avocado
Mulled Pork Belly with Calabaza, Maple-Powdered Cracklin’s, Pumpkin Pickles, and 2-Hour Eggnog
TW-7 Salmon, Seared Onigiri, Fermented Soy, Enoki, Dashi, and Compressed Pea Tendrils (recipe)
Buffalo Gelato with Olive Oil Cake, Gianduja Croquant, Coconut Froth, and Mint Croquette

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Maine Lobster Alphabet Soup on StarChefs.com

Maine Lobster Alphabet Soup

North One 10
11052 Biscayne Boulevard
North Miami, FL 33161
305 893 4211
Tue-Fri 11:30am-3pm
Sun-Thu 5:30pm-10pm
Fri-Sat 5:30pm-11 pm

Run by industry veterans and husband and wife team Dewey and Dale LoSasso, North One 10 is a consummate neighborhood restaurant. Chef LoSasso’s big personality makes for fun interpretations of standard American dishes, while Dale, in the front of the house, creates a welcoming, casual atmosphere.

We Recommend:
Grilled Prawn Savory Waffle with Basil Butter
Herb Seared Local Cobia with Pinot Noir Reduction, Chanterelles, and Crispy Oregon Truffles


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Eclectic décor: a shot of the bar at One Ninety on StarChefs.com

Eclectic décor: a shot of the bar at One Ninety

One Ninety
26 NE 54th Street
Miami, FL 33127
305 758 7085
Wed-Sat 6pm-12am

Alan Hughes is a charming and engaging chef cooking in the offbeat neighborhood known as Little Haiti. His restaurant has a wonderful worldly, eclectic feel to it – a collection of mementos and relics adorn the restaurant as though it were a personal story of international travel. Fittingly, Hughes, an Argentine by birth, has traveled and cooked the world over, and incorporates a thoroughly diverse blend of flavors and techniques to his cuisine.

We Recommend:
Colorado Lamb Loin with Apricot Tagine and Pistachio Cous Cous
Grilled Octopus Bruschetta

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Sommerlier Jorge Morgado of The Oceanaire Seafood Room on StarChefs.com

Sommelier Jorge Morgado

The Oceanaire Seafood Room
900 South Miami Avenue
Miami, FL 33131
305 372 8862
Mon-Fri 11:30am-5pm
Mon-Thurs 5pm-10pm
Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm
Sun 5pm-10pm

Big, burly, and affable, Chef Sean Bernal is proud of his Puerto Rican heritage and it’s reflected in his menu at Oceanaire. Bernal cooks wonderfully fresh seafood using his native spices and flavor profiles, as well as touches of Asian, South American, and Caribbean cuisines. Portions are large at this seafood restaurant and the menu changes daily. The often spicy and complicated flavor profiles of Bernal’s dishes are second nature to Sommelier Jorge Morgado, also a Puerto Rican native. Morgado’s thoughtful pairings highlighted the bright, piquant flavors in Bernal’s dishes, complimenting and contrasting them with the floral, fruit, and mineral characters of the wines.

We Recommend:
Bahia Falsa and El Conquistador Oysters from Oyster Bar
Madagascar Wild Salt Prawns with Roasted Pepper Salad and Cilantro
Churros y Chocolate

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MIAMI BEACH

The romantic, breezy dining room of Bistro One LR on Starchefs.com

The romantic, breezy dining room of Bistro One LR

Chef Bernardo Espinel’s cuisine reflects the years spent with his mentor Chef Anthony Bombaci. Espinel’s fun pairings of bold ingredients are unusual, delicious, and well executed. The Grapefruit Glazed Duck has tasty, juicy meat with a hint of tartness from the grapefruit. Several of his seafood dishes impressed: the Tuna Escabeche has clean but assertive flavors, and the Hamachi Tartare is beautifully presented with a fan of avocado over top. The restaurant is gorgeous with an outdoor patio and view of the pool. The romantic feel, gentle lighting, and easy-going California vibe puts it at the top of our list.

We Recommend:
Hamachi Tartare with Avocado Emulsion and Osetra Caviar
Tuna Escabeche with Garbanzo Beans, Peppers, and Cumin Vinaigrette
Halibut and Sweet Corn Gratin with Artichokes, Confit Potatoes, and Chorizo
Grapefruit Glazed Duck with Salsify, Escarole, and Soy

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Chef Volz’s Grilled Romaine from Creek 28 on StarChefs.com

Chef Volz’s Grilled Romaine

Creek 28
Indian Creek Hotel
2727 Indian Creek Drive
Miami Beach, FL 33140
305 531 2727
Sun-Thu 7am-10pm
Fri-Sat 7am-11pm

American bistro in style, with yellow walls, dark woods, and tranquil brick patio, Creek 28 has an eclectic menu. Executive Chef Kira Volz has a knack for playing with sweet and savory flavors in her approachable and easy-going dishes. Volz’s Fig and Chestnut Raviolini is toothsome and bright with the fig and chestnuts enhanced by an herb butter sauce with bits of citrus zing to lift the richness of the raviolini.

We Recommend:
Grilled Romaine with Dijon Vinaigrette, Julienne Red Onion, and Grana Cheese
Fig and Chestnut Raviolini with Herb Brown Butter and Grana Cheese

 

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Jeff McInnis’ Melon and Cucumber Salad with Goat Cheese Sorbet  on StarChefs.com

Jeff McInnis’ Melon and Cucumber Salad with Yogurt Sorbet

DiLido Beach Club
The Ritz-Carlton, South Beach
One Lincoln Road
Miami Beach, FL 33139
786 276 4000
Mon-Sun 12pm-9pm
Sat-Sun 9am -11am

Jeff McInnis is a charismatic and endearing chef who has taken an international assortment of street food and reinterpreted for composed plated dishes. His Mediterranean-influenced cuisine is thoughtful, healthy, delicious, and beautifully executed. McInnis’ tapas selection is delicious yet light, and very outdoor/beach appropriate. The falafel is impossibly airy in texture and his Florida Pompano is bursting with flavor and beautifully presented. McInnis knows just how to cook his food properly given the beach setting: casual atmosphere, lively flavors, no tablecloths, and water views.

We Recommend:
Falafel and Hummus with Cucumber Raita
Melon and Cucumber Salad with Lemon, Mint, and Yogurt Sorbet
Lemon and Apricot Roasted Chicken with Sardinian Couscous “Risotto,” Pistachio, and Manchego (recipe)

 

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Emeril’s New Orleans Barbecue Shrimp on StarChefs.com

Emeril’s New Orleans Barbecue Shrimp

Emeril's at Loews
1601 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, FL 33139
305 695 4550
Sun-Thur 5:30pm-10:30pm
Fri-Sat 5:30pm-11pm
Sun 11am-2:30pm

Bright primary colors accent this refined David Rockwell-designed restaurant. An open kitchen and grand center stage wine storage display make for a bit of excitement in the dinning room where Chef de Cuisine Thomas Azar serves several signature Emeril dishes, as well as his own culinary creations. Fresh-faced but wine-wise sommelier David Mohka’s wine pairings were spot on for all of our dishes. Mohka is self-taught and his pairings reflect an exceptional ability to think outside of the box – you don’t come across a Hungarian Tokai very often, much less paired with lump crab cakes. In addition to Mohka’s unusual matches, his pairing explanations and background information for each wine are impressive.

We Recommend:
New Orleans Barbecue Shrimp (paired with 2005 Grosjean Gamay, Valle d’Aosta)
Emeril’s Banana Cream Pie

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A classic Nobu dish: Black Cod with Miso on StarChefs.com

A classic Nobu dish: Black Cod with Miso

Nobu Miami
1901 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, FL 33139
305 695 3232
Mon-Thu 6pm-12am
Fri-Sat 6pm-1am
Sun 6pm-11pm

This Miami outpost has the classic Nobu styling with slotted wood paneling, turquoise tiled columns, and black slate floors – informed Japanese elegance with an edgy urban vibe. A small serving window allows glimpses into the kitchen, where you’ll see Chef Thomas Buckley putting the finishing touches on his boundary-less food that draws from cuisines around the world, but with a deft Nobu-trained hand. Joel Lahon’s desserts are sophisticated and beautifully plated. The flavors are a mix of Asian, French, South American and marry perfectly, and often work one on one, as interchangeable parts.

We Recommend:
Beef on Tobacco Leaf
Mango Carpaccio, Chocolate Caviar, Yuzu Cake, Fresh Grapefruit, and Raspberry Foam (recipe)
Thai Jewels: Coconut Tapioca, Thai Tea Foam, Lemongrass Ice Cream, and Kaffir Lime Emulsion

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The Blueberry Pomegranate Martini from table 8 on StarChefs.com

The Blueberry Pomegranate Martini

Table 8
The Regent Hotel
1458 Ocean Drive
Miami Beach, FL 33139
305 695 4114
Mon-Fri 7am-11:30am; 11:30am-2:30pm
Fri-Sat 8am-11:30am
Sun-Wed 6pm-11pm
Thurs-Sat 6pm-12am

Modern décor and red and yellow-hued lights give this warehouse-like space a breezy South Beach feel by day and lounge/nightclub feel by night. Refreshing cocktails with minimalist presentation fit in well with Executive Chef Govind Armstrong’s market-driven seasonal cuisine. Chef de Cuisine Jason Smith’s “keep it simple” philosophy is reflected in the menu with his straightforward plating style, clean flavors, and subtle tweaking of classics, like his Mediterranean Mussels with a tomato jam and braised pearl onions served in a Staub crock pot. Desserts from pastry chef Tara Hullander are comforting and homey – a milk chocolate pot de creme takes us right back to our childhood!

We Recommend:
Honeybu cocktail
Red Bell cocktail
Mediterranean Mussels with Braised Pearl Onions, Glazed Celery Root, Tomato Jam, and Olives
Kobe-Style Flat Iron with Charred Broccolini, Marinated Mushrooms, Herbed Hollandaise, and Potato Cream
Spiced Calabaza Creme Brulee with Cranberry-Walnut Bar and Pumpkin Seeds

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The carnival-like dining room and bar at Touch on StarChefs.com

The carnival-like dining room and bar at Touch

Touch
910 Lincoln Road
Miami Beach, FL 33139
305 532 8003
Sun-Thurs 7pm-12am; 7pm -1am
Fri-Sat 7pm-3am

Clubby décor, showy cocktails, and loud music belie the talent in the kitchen at this scene-y restaurant. Chef Sean Brasel has some serious chops, and puts out exciting and nimbly executed eclectic cuisine. (He does the same at his catering outfit, Touch Catering.) Brasel’s seared foie gras with a sour mango sauce is served on top of a coconut-encrusted pineapple – a distinctive pairing that worked that tropical, South Florida feel.

We Recommend:
Porcini Dusted Black Grouper Filet with Goat Cheese Risotto Cake, Baby Clams, Oyster Mushrooms, Tomatoes in a Chipotle-Bacon Broth
Lobster and Ricotta Ravioli and Prime Deckel Steak

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PALM BEACH

Tuna Tartare with Mini Falafel Balls, Aioli, Peppers from Cafe Boulud on StarChefs.com

Tuna Tartare with Mini Falafel Balls, Aioli, Peppers

Café Boulud
Brazilian Court Hotel
301 Australian Avenue
Palm Beach, FL 33480
561 655 6060
Mon-Fri 7am-10am; 11am-2:30pm; 5:30pm-10pm
Sat-Sun 7am-11am; 12pm-2:30pm; 5:30pm-10pm

South Florida Rising Star Zach Bell is at the helm of the Café Boulud kitchen. Bell is a Boulud protégé who worked his way up through Boulud’s kitchens; at Café Boulud, his Mediterranean influence is light and playful, and always deftly executed. Pastry Chef Jennifer Reed’s delicious desserts are sophisticated and representative of Boulud’s classic style. Don’t miss Ame Brewster’s thoughtful, seasonally-inspired cocktails – her redesigned classic Rye Daisy is robust and expertly proportioned. Café Boulud has a very Palm Beach feel to it with coral-colored walls, dim lighting, and beautiful flora and fauna – rich, tropical, and romantic.

We Recommend:
Sea Bass, Artichoke-New Potato-Basil Nage, and Lemon Aioli (recipe)
Chocolate Fondant with Cocoa Almond Streusel and Earl Grey Ice Cream
Rye Daisy (recipe)

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Chef Carlos Jorge of Solu on StarChefs.com

Chef Carlos Jorge

Solu
The Resort on Singer Island
3800 North Ocean Drive
Singer Island, FL 33404
561 340 1795
Mon-Fri 6:30am-11am; 11:30am-2:30am
Sat-Sun 7:30am-11:30am; 12pm-2:30pm
Mon-Sun 5:30pm-10:30pm
Sun 11am-3pm

Blending Asian and Caribbean cuisines, Carlos Jorge applies adept culinary techniques with a focus on seafood (the restaurant is on an island after all). We love the fun flavors of his spicy, kobe beef adorned Hot, Sour, Sweet, Salty salad which hit all the senses. The contemporary and clean design of the dining room, with a beautiful open kitchen at one end, complements Jorge’s modern plating style.

We Recommend:
Hot, Sour, Sweet, Salty (recipe)

 

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HOTELS
MIAMI

De Soleil South Beach
(formerly The Hotel Vincci)
1458 Ocean Drive
Miami Beach, FL 33139
305 672 4554
Rooms start at $361

With its modern Art Deco design and located only a few yards from all the South Beach hot spots (and across the street from a Starbucks), De Soliel is hip, cool, and a lot of fun. High concept lounges and, in particular, Table 8’s first floor bar and restaurant, make De Soleil a great place to check out even if you’re not staying there. The roof top terrace suites are big enough to have a party and come with a 600-square-foot roof patio with a roman tub and wet bar.

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The Grove Isle Hotel & Spa
Four Grove Isle Drive
Coconut Grove, FL 33133
305 858 8300
Rooms start at $350

A walk across a bridge and you’re literally an island away from the energy of downtown Miami, and on the 20-acre Grove Isle. It’s a transformative feeling, knowing you’re only a stone’s throw from the city, but feeling like you’re completely secluded on this private island. Lush with palm trees and manicured grounds, the hotel is styled with a British Colonial panache, complete with mahogany wood, tropical prints, and painted kooky monkeys. The property’s restaurant, Baleenis perched on the water’s edge, and has one of the best sunset views in all of Miami. Chef Jesse Souza’s cuisine is elegant and entertaining with unique presentations and exotic flavor combinations. Work off the calories on one of the hotel’s Har-Tru tennis courts, with customized lessons.  

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The Setai
2001 Collins Avenue
Miami, FL 33139
305 520 6000
Rooms start at $715

One of the most exotic hotels we’ve ever experienced. Not only does it imbue a sense of peacefulness from the moment you walk in, but it has every amenity you could ever want – three pools each with a 10-degree temperature difference, is just one example. A spa offers old world-meets-new world Asian-style treatments with private suites and completely customized service. The Restaurant with Chef Jonathan Wright at the helm offers modern Pan Asian cuisine that ranges from more southeast Asian curries to sushi-style sashimi dishes, all using only the best ingredients.

 

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PALM BEACH

Eau Palm Beach
100 South Ocean Boulevard
Manalapan, FL 33462
561 533 6000‎ 
Rooms start at $179

A well-to-do beach-front property, and a great place to take a family. There are activities for children, babysitting services, and two pools – the big one for the kids; the other for adults. The guest rooms are plush and fitted with contemporary South Florida décor, and the bathrooms are spacious, covered in marble, with big 2-person tea cup-shaped tubs. Beach view rooms have a terrace with absolutely beautiful views of the beach and water. What’s more, the flagship restaurant, Angle with its high concept food and cutting edge design, is a destination dining room in Palm Beach.  

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KEY WEST

Beachside Resort
3841 N. Roosevelt Boulevard
Key West, FL 33040
800 546 0885
Rooms start at $159

Beachside Resort is a little oasis tucked away off the main drag in Key West. Each room is actually a suite with a bedroom, kitchen, and living room with a balcony. The pool and patio are surrounded by palm trees with several white linen tented private cabanas for two, a great hot tub, and lunch bar. And Bayside Beach is just steps away. Three restaurants on the property are there for your every whim, from fine dining at Tavern N Town to pizza from the in-room dining menu – everything you need under one roof.

 
 

   Published: April 2008

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