I know; I know. I’ve said I don’t usually rush to new restaurant openings, and yet here I am again. I had to visit this one as soon as possible. It’s Tom‘s! If you follow my blog, then you already know (a) I am a Craft fan and (b) I have a not-so-secret-crush on Colicchio (it’s OK, the hubby knows. In fact, he might have one too! Ha!).
Gone are the dark, sultry, and clubby STK interiors that existed before Beachcraft‘s big remodel. One thing is for sure, the result is gorgeous. The Meyer Davis interior design team (also the designers responsible for The Dutch) did an incredible job creating a Hamptons-meets-SOBE look. The chic interiors may scream glam, yet they are still warm and inviting. I wouldn’t mind moving in! Sadly, that’s where the restaurant props end.
The very friendly hostess walked us to our table and service began promptly. “The menu items are to be shared” explained our waiter repeatedly. Got it. Our party of four was about to share all! Side note: New York’s Craft recently made the change to a smaller plate, sharing menu as well.
Beachcraft joins the no-complimentary-bread-for-you club. Instead, the menu offers an $8.00 Focaccia and Olive Butter which we skipped. We chose to start with the Charcuterie Selection, the Red Bream Tiradito, and Manila Clam “Flatbread.” The nicely chilled tiradito worked well with its cucumber, coriander, and basil- a great light starter. The charcuterie arrived next. While all the cured meats on the small wooden platter were good choices, the presentation left a lot to be desired. Simply put, I expected more. Inside a small bowl (one that bumped against the cramped wooden plate holding the meats), sat two small pieces of olive oil-topped grilled bread and a small scoop of pickled vegetables as the accompaniments. The flatbread was loaded with pancetta and oregano. The taste of manila clams was nowhere to be found. We still enjoyed it because, c’mon, pancetta was involved.
The staff eventually cleared the table and served the Octopus we ordered (as one of the four entrees) by itself. No explanation. Just the octopus. Drop and go. We all looked at each other, shoulder shrugged, and dug in. The octopus (with a mix of avocado, black chili, jicama, celery, and cilantro) tasted good, but similar ones can be found city-wide. So far, nothing screamed “HEY! YOU ARE AT BEACHCRAFT! WATCH THIS! EAT THIS! FALL IN LOVE WITH THIS!” We just ho-hummed through the rest of the meal.
Once we finished the lonely octopus, we waited a while for the other three courses to arrive. The initial new restaurant excitement waned by the time we got them. It didn’t help that the temperature was off on all of them. The Sea Urchin, Peekytoe Crab Bucatini was seemingly just thrown in a bowl as an afterthought. What happened to presentation? Where was the uni? Certainly not in there. Lastly, the (exactly FOUR) White Bean (undercooked) Agnolotti with clams and braised pork shoulder -clearly not meant to be shared- was the most lackluster dish of the night. When our waiter came by to check on us, we expressed our disappointment. He did offer to correct it immediately by firing the entrees again or bringing something else, but we declined. Waiting much longer for it to be all redone just wasn’t an attractive idea at that point. While we waited for dessert, manager Alex Laos came by to speak to us about our experience. He was apologetic and extremely professional.
As for the desserts portion of the night, I was very excited to try the Guava & Cheese Pastelitos. Perhaps that is the only time I used the word love that entire night to describe any of the food I ate. That said, the pastries do not need the watery and faux dulce de leche Beachcraft served on the side. The Thousand Layer Doughnut had the potential to be amazing with its guava glaze and graham streusel, but the key lime curd topping was too heavy and overpowered it. On that tart note, we paid the bill and went on our way.
Nowhere at Beachcraft was it obvious chef Tom Colicchio is the leading force involved with this venture. What will happen here once the restaurant newness fades and Miamians move on to the next new place? Will they rely solely upon the hotel guests to fill up? Right now, the restaurant resembles SOBE’s reputation: beautiful and without any real substance. I visited Craft a couple of years ago (read about it HERE) and I can still tell you about my experience because it was so memorable. This one? Soulless. It’s already running on fumes and the train has barely left the station. Why the disconnect? Perhaps my expectations were too high going in?
I vow to return in a couple of months and give it another go. Tom, your presence is needed in South Florida (and no, I’m not just saying that for my own benefit!). Get here before you truly have to pack your knives and go!
UPDATE: February 2016
Went back for brunch during the SOBEWFF weekend, still finding it unbelievably subpar. Service and food just OK, like what you’d find elsewhere on the beach. Nothing special.