EAT HERE! THE DINING ROOM POPS UP AT THE SHELBORNE
As many of you know, I’m a huge huge fan of laid back, quality dining. The Dining Room is on my list of favorite spots for dinner with friends, a date, or family. Its former location on 4th and Washington was reminiscent of a Brooklyn or West Village neighborhood staple, a place where you just know you’ll get a table, a great meal in a chill casual environment. You can roll up there in shorts and a polo shirt, flip flops not by any means sloppy but comfortable. I loved Dining Room on 4th so when I learned that the restaurant was moving I was worried. “HolyShitNoFuckingWayWHYYYYYYYY,” were my exact words. I immediately connected on twitter. This is big news in the life of LisaTakesMiami one of my fave spots is moving and NOOOOOOOOOO and to a hotel??? Ok Lis, deep breaths.
Dining Room and its amazing menu is still alive and well and has popped up at VESPER that not-so-great over priced wanna be scene that was at the newly renovated Shelborne (which you can see in a current Acura commercial). The problem with VESPER was the food didn’t match the hype. It was kinda boring for the price and it doesn’t take Miami people long to lose interest. They thought they could be the big Tuesday night and for a while they were. Celebrities came to eat, as did the local social hoshy poshy people or as I call them, Miami’s “Come Mierdas.” I went to check it out. It was cool for about 37 seconds. But then yeah, Miami caught on and the flash was out of the pan. Toodaloo Vesper. However… the space is quite lovely and begs for a good, well rounded, interesting menu. Enter The Dining Room.
Personally, I’m not a fan of many hotel restaurants there are a few exceptions like BLT at The Betsey Ross, Tudor House which is in the Dream Hotel which is NOTHING like the Dream Hotel in Manhattan which saddens me. I’m a local now and feel that when I dine at hotels, especially on weekends, and during season, it’s this big tourist shit show of a scene. Yeah, true I can meet fun people from different places, but The Dining Room was a local spot for locals and tourists who crossed into south of 5th street. In my email exchange with The Dining Room folks I quickly mentioned that Lolita closed (another great space with lame food) and their space is available. It’s very in line with the vibe of Dining Room. It would be perfect!! I had visions of me dining under the trees, sipping cocktails at the bar. Making it the “pregame staple” for dinner with friends until we go dance and party.
Well either way I am a fan of Dining Room. I love the flavors and their branzino is a favorite as are their scallops and arugula salad with figs and Serrano ham. So when I heard they were moving and there may be some confusion in finding them presuming they closed I wanted to pay a visit, and share some good ole Dining Room food porn with you.
Right now it’s oh about 90 degrees with 90% humidity in Miami which means it is swampy, clammy and awful. Air conditioning is preferred especially when dining (as you can tell I have yet to adapt to the August heat). I was quickly cooled with a drink called “Magic City.” Miss Jessie the bartender varied the recipe a tad going with a vanilla vodka, triple sec, passion fruit, orange juice, lime juice and blood orange. It was a martini glass of fruity goodness, very cold, very quenching.
Miss Jessie was a bartender at OLA (Dining Room’s awesome sister restaurant at the Sanctuary Hotel). She got the call that her services were needed at the Dining Room Pop Up at Vesper and a day later she was mixing it up over there. “I like drinks with spice and fresh ingredients, cilantro, basil,” explained Jessie. The follow up drink was the “Hong Kong Garden” (yes, named after the Siouxsie and the Banshees song). It’s not on the menu, but will make it on the new drink menu Miss Jessie has been tasked with creating. Tell Jessie LisaTakesMiami said to try the Hong Kong Garden and she’ll mix up a treat of gin, ginger, cucumber and basil. I wasn’t sure what to expect because I’m more of a fruity drink kind of girl or RUM but this drink was fantastic! It sort of tasted like a boozed up version of the water with cucumber you get after a nice massage.
Ok so the boozing is great at this new space. POINTS SCORED!! Unlike the old Dining Room, there’s a BAR!! A big one!! An art deco one!! It looks like the bar Jack Nicholson sits at in The Shining except not creepy. In fact it’s very sexy. It’s the kind of bar where naughty conversations happen, perhaps a little role play by the couple from a Chicago suburb, you can spot them out by their sunburns.
Speaking of the décor, the inside space is totally bad ass in a 1930’s Al Capone gangsta way. It’s sexy, dark, wood walls, curved glass, black and white images on the walls. It’s not really the jean shorts and flip flops neighborhood spot it used to be. It’s elegant and while it is no way required, you feel obliged to dress up a bit. I wore a cute off the shoulder cotton dress and some sandals and was fine. But the outside space is much more casual.
Outside reminds me of a laid back beach club. The furniture is basic and yellow nice and neat. It’s no bells not whistles perfect because it’s all about the food. With that LET THE FOOD PORN BEGIN!!
ARRUGULA FIG SERRANO HAM GOAT CHEESE SALAD OF LOVE AND ALL THAT IS GOOD IN THE WORLD. Get this and share it. Trust me… it’s perfect.
We ordered several things and shared!! Next up were the LAMB MEATBALLS: Delicious and moist. Great flavor and texture. A great appetizer option for sharing.
The SCALLOPS!!! Blah blah blah there’s only two. Stop whining. They are perfectly prepared. You will love them. Wrapped with BACON for extra love.
FILET MIGNON: Cannot go wrong. It’s all about the seasonings at Dining Room and this prepared medium rare is perfection on a plate.
THE BRANZINO: ok if I was under 14 years old the sight of this fishie on the plate with the tail on would have freaked me out. I’m a Pisces. I feel for the fish. What can I say? But now, as an adult I like to eat the fish and the Branzino at Dining Room is among the best I’ve tasted and certainly the best on the beach.
And now… DESSERTS!!
DECONSTRUCTED KEY LIME PIE: Perfect for sharing YUM!
PATAGONIA: also heavenly, fruity, creamy and super super sweet.
OK so in the end I still adore Dining Room. The staff is awesome. I feel like Norm from cheers where they see me. “Leeeesaaa, hey honey how are you?” They are warm, friendly and know all about offering excellent service that is down to earth. I hope the snobbery that comes with Hotel Restaurant clientele doesn’t harden them. I feel protective of the little Dining Room family. I want them to ass kick it wherever they wind up but this little New Yorker who is now a Miami local, really hopes they score Lolita’s old space. It would offer the perfect space to continue that charming laid back local vibe, won’t be a touristy hotel restaurant, and this time will be bigger with a bar. If they remain at Shelborne I’m still going to eat there. The food is too damn good to let location have that much influence. Plus I’m from New York which means I can sit at any bar order a meal, strike up a convo with the bartender and have quite the time. I just feel there’s something special about a legit neighborhood joint that tourists discover based on the raves of the locals. There’s something lovely about that neighborhood feel that makes me think ahhh New York City except with palm trees and a beach. Cheers to the Dining Room and your POP UP adventure with all good things to come. xo
Dining Room Pop Up at Vesper is located in the back of the Shelborne Hotel located on 18th and Collins. There’s street parking on 18th and the likelihood you’ll find a space is better if you dine before 9pm. (A local tip).
Here’s a link to the Dining Room’s Website so you can check out the full menu and make your reservations. ENJOY! www.diningroommiami.com
UPDATE AS OF AUGUST 29th 2012!!I received this message direct from the folks at Dining Room… I truly hope they find a home.
WHERE WILL THE DINING ROOM POP-UP NEXT?
Saturday, August 25, 2012 was The Dining Rooms last night as a pop-up at Vesper in the Shelborne South Beach.
It has been an amazing run at Vesper, and we are excited to have had a chance to pop up in such a hot neighborhood. Our summer fling at Vesper has left us with many memories, and we want to thank the Shelborne for making us part of their family.
Vesper will be launching its new inviting and casual South Beach concept October 5th. The menu will bring new gastronomic items that redefine the art of good eating at good prices.. And yes we will have our famous Fried Zeppoli’s.
This is not it for The Dining Room. Where will we pop-up next? Send us a Tweet if you have any suggestions! Think Brickell. We are in the mist of looking for a new neighborhood to call home.
For now, our team is working on a pop-up bar, The Blacksmith. It will be located at The Well (444 West 41st Street) The Blacksmith will be poppin’ up on Wednesday nights in October. The venue will feature artisanal bottle service, spirits, and an exciting small plates menu by no other then, Chef Horacio Rivadero. Buffalo Brown’s live band will perform a variety of jazzy-rock favorites. Stay tuned for more details.
The Dining Room at Vesper would like to thank you all for joining us this summer! Both restaurants are excited to start the season off with a big bang.
We would be happy to answer any questions you may have.
I look forward to hearing from you.
The Dining Room at Vesper
1801 Collins Ave
Miami Beach, Fl 33139