Surf 'n Turf 'n Girth
By Paul Rubio
South Florida’s contemporary restaurant scene is a hit or miss of “sceney” hang outs, Northeast imports, jazzed up seafood joints, and pimped out steakhouses. Contrasting the predictability of recognizable chains and Sysco-stenching strip mall eateries, Florida’s glam revival has ushered in a new wave of more original eating establishments which merit bragging rights for both the food and the clientele. From boutique sushi counters to re-invented steakhouses to high-end Pan-Asian trendsetters that fulfill all your fat kid fantasies, below are South Florida’s best bets for fabulous sushi, bloody steaks with decadent sides, and show-stopping super-sized portions.
Blue Sea – Tucked behind the front lobby of the Delano Hotel, Blue Sea is South Florida’s superlative sushi experience. People watching from a Philippe Starck barstool alongside 18 beautiful strangers, four fabulous servers and chefs entertain your wildest sushi and sake needs. Remarkable creations are crafted at arms length from your plate, like the Wild Coho Salmon Tartare (with olive and soy tapenade and fried ginger), the rice-less Smokey Roll (with four types of smoked fish and caviar), the Yakuza Roll (BBQ eel, avocado, and boursin cheese with spicy masago and eel sauce), and California rolls with real Blue or King crab. The team is well skilled at matching your selections with the 18 different sakes (or enormous cocktail list) and providing the most genuine service on South Beach.
www.delano-hotel.com, 1685 Collins Ave., South Beach, 305 672 2000.
RA Sushi –The David Guetta remix of sushi, RA serves big, bold, and fattening pseudo-Japanese creations to the backdrop of club music and table-top ‘Coyote Ugly’ moments. While the fried sushi rolls and ubiquitous spicy tuna topping is a far cry from Blue Sea’s traditional Japanese simplicity, RA circa 2011 re-instates the Florida food and party combo made famous by Taverna Opa in the early 2000s and Sushi Rock in 1990s. It’s an awesome place to come with a huge group of friends, pig out, dance your ass off and make fun of Miami suburbanites (like Shakira did last year for her birthday). www.rasushi.com, 5829 SW 73rd Street, South Miami, 305 341 0092.
The Forge – Miami’s legendary steakhouse has resurfaced after a prolonged facelift (appropriately timed during the recession), unveiling a vanguard bastion of glamour and elegance. The Forge’s seductive design interior is arguably the city’s fiercest. The whimsical library room, the purple accents to contrast the carved wood walls and the stained glass ceilings and the former bank vault that now houses Miami’s largest wine collection live out the imagination of a storybook fantasy. The new menu matches the ingenuity and caliber of design with items like the grilled shrimp waffle, the lobster PB & J, the local tomato stack, the black and white sesame seared tuna, and the full gamut of meats, including the Oak Grilled Super Steak, named the “Best Steak in America” by Wine Spectator magazine. The pick your own pour, automated wine machine spans the perimeter of the restaurant; allowing you to sample several wines across courses. www.theforge.com, 432 Fort First Street, Miami Beach, 305 538 8533.
Steak 954 – Fort Lauderdale rejoiced when Stephen Starr transplanted his Philadelphia foodie empire to the W Fort Lauderdale Hotel and revived a nearly defunct beach-dining scene. Facing Fort Lauderdale’s downy sands and ocean blues, Steak 954 fortifies a new marriage between style and succulence. Every last detail of the restaurant’s décor screams sexy: the jellyfish tank, the lime leather furniture, the verdant-clad outdoor columns, and the intricate hardwood interior panels. The presentation and sophistication of the food further champions the intended seduction, with bespoke cocktails and a handsome wait staff to match. The award-winning, dry-aged meats are accompanied by a sterling cast of sides while the sumptuous ceviche and salads never disappoint. www.steak954.com, 401 North Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale, 954 414 8333.
Barton G - It’s Cirque de Palate at the most bedazzling and fantastical gastronomic circus known to man. Each dish and drink offered at Barton G is uniquely delivered in a theatrical display of grandeur, stimulating all five senses in tandem. Gimmicks and supersizing aside, the food and drinks themselves merit attention for their innovation and taste, like the swinging pendulum of Voodoo Shrimp stuffed with Seaweed salad and the use of genuine vodka popsicles as alcoholic diffusers. www.bartong.com, 1427 West Avenue, Miami Beach, 305 672 8881.