Growing up in South Florida has allowed me to experience the rebirth of our beloved South Beach, a.k.a. SOBE, first hand. Surprisingly, not everyone knows that for a while there SOBE resembled a scene out of Miami Vice. Ocean Drive? Think quiet, retirement homes, and oceanfront rocking chairs. Washington and Collins Avenue? Good luck walking those shady, dark streets at night without running into some kind of trouble. The beach is completely different now, of course. All the notoriety of the early 1990s brought an exorbitant amount of nightclubs and restaurants. The second I fell in love with a restaurant then, I knew chances were high it would not be around by the end of the month; R.I.P. WPA’s. Nowadays, it is rare to find many Miami Beach restaurants that are still around, twenty something years later. Kudos to Escopazzo, Grillfish and Osteria del Teatro for making it this long! It’s even rarer to find one that has been open more than that (say hello to The Forge!). You can love ’em or leave ’em, but yet they are still here.
Why the (mini) history lesson? I was hesitant to try yet another South Beach restaurant claiming to be the next big thing: trendy, chic, and good food too? Yeah, right! Here we go again. Color me NOT impressed. Turns out, I was wrong (let that sink in for a second, this doesn’t happen often! Ha!). I am impressed. 1826 Restaurant and Lounge is, in fact, everything it claims to be. The dining does initially get lost within the hoopla of all the celebrity sightings and the party scene reputation. That being said, the dining is also the anchor that should keep 1826 here once SOBE’s apathetic culture moves on to the next big thing.
Enter Chef Danny Grant. Winner of Food & Wine’s 2012 Best New Chef award, Grant was also the youngest US Chef to earn two Michelin stars in both 2011 and 2012 at his Chicago restaurant RIA. Florida is not rated by the Michelin Guide. It will probably be a long while before they even consider adding South Florida to their guide list (and I’m not holding my breath for it). In the mean time, I am happy to see Chef Grant join our growing list of local elite chefs. After my last couple of visits to 1826, I am adding this one to my list of favorites.
Several weeks ago, I followed the red carpet (yes, there really is one) to the main entrance, checked in with the hostess, and took the elevator to the main dining room on the second floor. The space, while not grand in square footage, sits just enough diners to fill up the room nicely. The muted palette, minimalist decor, and partly lit dining room felt warm and inviting. Looking around at all the very well dressed diners reminded me it was business as usual in South Beach. Service began promptly. Water was poured, menus were handed out, the sommelier tended to the wine we brought, and the waiter introduced himself. No one skipped a beat. The menu is divided into three columns: the harvest, the hook, and the hunt. Each column lists eight to ten, small to large courses, from top to bottom. The Harvest section is for their vegetarian items. The seafood is found underThe Hook and The Hunt includes all of their meat courses.
These were our choices:
To cap off the night, our group moved to the third floor lounge. Once there, the DJ played a lively music mix to match the beautiful lighting and interior design.The lounge is easily accessible via elevator from the dining room without having to leave, drive your car, find parking, and all the fun that brings. It reminded me of the (former) STK Miami concept: dining and dancing all in one place!
This second dinner solidified what I already knew; 1826 Restaurant and Lounge is a welcomed addition to South Beach and Chef Grant is incredibly talented and driven.
Cheers to many years of success! I can’t wait until next time.