Florida restaurateurs revamp the concept of a ‘hotel restaurant'
Restaurateurs are redesigning menus and formats for the latest generation of hotels and hotel guests, with a less formal approach that incorporates new ideas in service and decor as well as new flavors.
The old hotel approach — one grand signature room, a threemeal family restaurant, a pool bar, sushi or Mexican for variety, and a huge staff for room service and banquets — is not enough. Today, food is the focus for all-day socializing — requiring hotels to serve up coffee bars, breweries and bakeries as they style their restaurants as kitchens and pantries.
When you realize the Mr. C hotel in Miami is named for the legendary Ciprianis, you know the dining will be Italian. No surprise that the rooftop lounge will be named Bellini after the peach and bubbly drink concocted at Harry’s Bar in Venice, Italy.
Chef Manuel Mattei is behind Donna Mare at the Cadillac Hotel & Beach Club, with pasta, pizzas, risotto and fresh fish. At the hotel’s Bungalow by the Sea, the menu will be simpler, consisting of nibbles, more pizza and pasta, lobster mini rolls and an ocean of rosé wine.
At the new Nobu Hotel within the Eden Roc, cuisine at the Malibu Farm is veggie-heavy California cool: Start with breakfast of quinoa waffles and kale-apple juice and end with lobster, steak or cauliflower crust pizza.
The Chilean/French Atton hotel opened in Brickell this summer with Latin-accented restaurants Lima and Uva plus pisco sours, empanadas and tapas and international news and sports (futbol) on bar screens at Vista Pool Bar.
ME Miami, a youthful hotel brand from Mallorca, adds four bars and lounges to Miami’s nightlife scene rather than restaurants.
Four Season’s Surf Club in Surfside takes its food cues from the Amalfi coast with Le Sirenuse, a grand seafood format. It combines jazz-age Miami indulgence with the Italian seashore: Lobster with caponata, caviars and Gragnano linguine.
Faena, the dramatic Buenos Aires hotelier, has expanded its mid-beach property with the quieter Casa Faena, an old seaside inn with a low-key indoor/outdoor bistro with wagyu empanadas and churrasco as well as lobster Benedict.
At Nautilus by Sixty, the American luxury brand, the menu in its Cabana Club is Mediterranean grafted onto classic Miami. After a breakfast of avocado toast or pomegranate and barley, eat from an all-day menu or munch on a meze of lamb sliders, arancini, eggplant and lechon sandwiches.
At Zota Beach Resort, the Opal Group pitches its restaurant simply as Viento Kitchen + Bar, casual food with light Italian accents and spry imagination, like pickled fennel on crab cakes, pistachio mint pesto, crispy leeks and more.
Art Ovation, the black tie and tie-dyed new Marriott Autograph hotel in art-centric downtown has the sparkling Overture rooftop restaurant and Perspective bar with lively tastes. The menu gets artsy with craft popsicles, jalapeño hummus and a $58 Kansas City strip with whiskey wild mushrooms. Top it off with cheesecake brulee.
The new Carlisle Inn, the first Amish-Mennonite hotel in the Pinecraft community, has hex signs, samplers and farm-style furnishings. The Der Dutchman restaurant is next door, with big Pennsylvania Dutch breakfasts, barn-raising buffets and acres of pies, from pumpkin meringue to strawberry rhubarb.
The Hard Rock hotel already had a theme when it opened in hardrocking Daytona Beach this year, including custom playlists, LPs and turntables and 20 electric guitars with Fender amps for guests to turn their rooms into studios. The rooftop restaurant is called Sessions with a menu of contemporary hits (no Elvis sandwiches) like roast veggie tower, Korean wings, bleu cheese tater tots, beet salad and short ribs with spinach risotto. Plus, all-hours room service.
The stunning 600-room Aventura in Universal Studios installed a version of the most modern trend, a food hall, this last summer. Urban Pantry will have four food stations paired with drinks and, on top, Bar 17 with the likes of turmeric lemonade and pork belly bao buns.
At the relaxed Perry Hotel, Matt’s Stock Island Kitchen is so forward that it spills into the lobby, all but placing guests dockside in a working waterfront. That’s deliberate, says developer Brad Weiser, since the hotel was built in the reviving neighborhood away from the madding crowds on Duval Street. “You’re 10 feet from the water, and just down the way are some of best fishing and shrimp in the country,” notes Weiser. Stone crab, mahi and yellowtail, too, that will go to New York markets; Matt’s gets it immediately.
He calls the menu American coastal comfort food, a long phrase for updated classics, from crab beignets to snapper tacos with jalapeño slaw and the day’s catch dusted in cornmeal with crawfish thyme sauce.
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