A Floridian Brasserie
By: Marla Horn Lazarus
We followed a patterned pathway in the lobby’s terrazzo flooring right into Michelle Bernstein’s Seagrape restaurant where they offer an abundance of farm-fresh vegetables, natural reductions and eclectic sauces complement a selection of pedigreed steaks and fresh seafood. Focusing on local bounty sourced by land and by sea, she enlists a handful of nearby farmers to do her bidding in the garden. There is a beautiful symmetry at work inside the Seagrape as both the restaurant and its botanical namesake find their roots along the coasts of southern Florida and the Caribbean—and that is precisely where the Miami native and James Beard Foundation Award winning Chef Michelle Bernstein draws her inspiration. In addition to the exquisite cuisine, Seagrape has the glamour of mid-century modern design with light oak tables that feature subtle geometric patterns. The horseshoe-shaped, green marble-clad bar is in the heart of the space and is the perfect spot to sip expertly crafted cocktails and indulge in the modern retro setting. Furnishings in the cocktail lounge include a mix of vintage pieces from the 1920s through the 1960s. An al fresco terrace presents an idyllic setting for outdoor dining with views of lush gardens. In the distance, waves crashing against the Atlantic shoreline become part of the Seagrape soundtrack.
We began our culinary journey with fresh local fish ceviche with calabrian chili oil, sour orange along with a refreshing coriander roasted beets and stone fruit salad, which is served with beet balsamic vinaigrette, French feta, arugula and toasted almonds. Warm Gougères, melted in our mouths, are filled with jamon serrano, truffle fondue and sherry glaze while the stuffed squash blossom delicately filled with shrimp mousseline is served with corn grits, corn emulsion, aleppo peppers and seafood nage. Tender Spanish octopus a la Plancha with potato foam, squid ink crackers and orange-gochujang sauce was a party in our mouths while the PEI Mussels, steamed in blonde beer, saint-andré cheese, tomato, jamón and comté cheese toast was delicious.
Florida snapper bouillabaisse, loaded with scallops, mussels, clams, octopus, saffron croquette, rouille foam and hotel butter is wonderful as is the fresh grilled local grouper, served with corn and cannellini bean succotash, kaffir lime and crispy ham. The magnificent whole crispy snapper, served with coconut rice, Thai-style slaw and nam phrik is served without the head. The Peking grilled duck breast with parsnip purée, grilled treviso, glazed bing cherries, grilled foie gras and cocoa nib duck jus was succulent. The ground short rib burger, served with oxtail marmalade, applewood bacon, racelette cheese, romaine lettuce and sauce Louis was juicy and luscious while the 28 day dry-aged prime, served with au poivre sauce and braised short-rib with English pea purée, brussels sprouts, pickled pearl onions and red wine jus was perfectly cooked. Irresistible sides, large enough to share offer crispy duck fat fries with rosemary, salt roasted carrots with ricotta, Brussels sprouts with apple and honey fish sauce, shishito peppers with shaved bonito and togarashi as well as Traditional Ratatouille and brown butter Pomme purée.
Make sure to save room for the amazing sweet treats offering warm apple crostada with butterscotch sauce, chai tea ice cream and honeycomb or the creamy tropical panna cotta with kaffir lime gelée, seasonal tropical fruits and cocoa nibs. The berry angel food cake with lemon-grapefruit curd, soft and crisp meringue, micro blossoms and frozen yogurt is light and moist while the Walk in the Woods dark chocolate semifreddo, pistachio, local citrus, extra virgin olive oil, sea salt is dense and decadent. The sinful Guayaba con Queso Donuts stuffed with guava and cream cheese just melted in our mouths.
For a special celebration or to treat yourself to a perfect meal, at any time of the day, Seagrape is second to none. Bon Appétit…
Seagrape is located in the Thompson Hotel Miami Beach 4041 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33140
Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. Reservations are recommended by calling 786-605-4043 www.seagrapemiamibeach.com