FLAVOR SENSATIONS Beets with artichokes, cured olives, anchovies and cherry peppers
The entire zeitgeist of 1 Hotel & Homes South Beach and its signature restaurant, Tom Colicchio’s Beachcraft, is to unite with nature and, therefore, tread with conch feet on the environment. At first, though, that didn’t work out too well—or it worked out even better than architects and designers hoped, depending on your point of view.
A flood initially ousted the property’s other noteworthy eatery, the steakhouse STK, from the location where Beachcraft is now, sending it to the other side of the LEED-certified hotel. Then, a fire delayed the Beachcraft debut, where the central feature is heat, captured in an enormous showcase kitchen. But, after tussling with the very elements they intended to honor, hotel and restaurant united in highlighting the ecology of place, using the coastal setting as inspiration.
Located on 8.5 acres of prime Miami Beach waterfront, the property’s eco-friendly status announces itself upon entrance. The lobby, done in shades that range from neutrals to grays, features various installations crafted from succulents, sand, soil and rocks. This leads into Beachraft’s wall of greenery, which in turn flows into the Meyer Davis Studio-designed, multi-textured dining room that seats 85. An abundance of natural materials are employed here, ranging from wood to concrete to leather. Outside, a patio is sheltered from street noise by a kitchen garden, which includes potted citrus and avocado trees. The emphasis on sustainable and antibiotic-free ingredients is not just a talking point here.
Helmed by Executive Chef (and South Florida homeboy) Michael Fiorello, Beachcraft is half showmanship, half workmanship. Every dish that wows—such as the scallops so freshly shucked they’re still quivering on the plate, with a burst of pink peppercorns and currants providing magnetically opposite shocks to the palate—is clearly based on meticulous technique.
That said, it’s not always easy to tell from the menu what you’re going to be eating exactly. Divided into four simple parts—raw bar, snacks, dinner and sides—there’s very little description, particularly in the first two sections. When you read “razor clams,” for instance, you might imagine them arriving like scallops. Instead, they’re cooked, uniformly sliced to appear like shaved garlic, then delicately dressed with a touch of olive oil and snipped herbs.
Of course, these are formative quibbles. The summation is that Beachcraft is, like any high-end restaurant worth its fleur de sel, a continual work in progress, with dishes that fail to please weeded out and out-of-season ingredients replaced.
That said, I’d like to see the majority of the current dishes hang around, at least until the winter season. A charred escarole salad finds pungent counterpoint with slices of properly fatty porchetta and dollops of Parmesan-caper aioli, and textural purpose in wafer-thin croutons and oven-dried lemon slices. A single, perfectly tender tentacle of grilled octopus is stunningly arranged with pureed avocado, sticks of jicama, a transparent slice or two of celery along with some frilly leaves, and a tiny pool of black pepper paste.
While the dinner section isn’t labeled as such per se, selections include crudos and ceviches; salads and appetizers; flatbreads; and so on. In that flatbread category, three options are all appealing, but my favorite so far is the Florida clam. The chopped clams that top the round, crisp dough are highly flavored with pancetta, oregano and parsley, and the concoction is simply addictive.
While three South Florida-friendly fish dishes vie with each other for top billing—the cobia with heirloom cherry tomatoes and kimchee cured from purple cabbage; swordfish with baby turnips, English peas and a swipe of black garlic puree; and a wonderfully succulent hogfish with Chinese broccoli and a subtle lemon-rosemary vinaigrette—the real star of main courses is the lamb. From Reister Farms, the lamb is fed only peas for its final month. You can taste that sweetness in two meaty, juicy chops, which are complemented on the plate by a spiced—but not spicy—harissa yogurt and an almost caramelized eggplant caponata. Try the wine on draft with this last dish, an Acrobat rosé pressed from pinot noir grapes for a reasonable $9 a glass. The pressurized system keeps this and the Gotham Project’s garnacha offering fresh without corking it.
Almost everyone I know who has dined at Beachcraft so far has ended their meal with the Thousand-Layer doughnut, an NYC-exported portmanteau of a dessert topped with Key lime curd and a streusel. It’s a sugary, rich and delicious confection to be sure, but, for this climate, I vastly prefer the light and fragrant coconut pannacotta or the more definitive, but still not weighty, Valrhona chocolate semifreddo.
Like the herbs, vegetables and saplings that rim the patio, Beachcraft has only just taken root. With time, this Colicchio transplant will surely adapt even more to its surroundings and blend in with the fine-dining environment so naturally that we’ll forget it hasn’t always been here.
1 Hotel & Homes South Beach
2395 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, 305.604.6700
Breakfast: daily, 7-11am; brunch: Sat.-Sun., noon-3pm; dinner: Wed.-Sun., 6-10:30pm, Fri.-Sat., 6-11:30pm
Raw bar, $12-$210; snacks, $4-$18; dinner, $14-$35; sides, $6-$9; desserts, $8-$10
Tom’s Flip on Collins does not refer to Colicchio doing gymnastics but to a gin-based cocktail infused with lemon peel and cucumber, then shaken with an egg white, simple syrup and cracked black pepper.
If you drive an environmentally friendly electric car, your valet ticket is comped.
The second story of Beachcraft features three different options for personal affairs and private dining, with accommodations for parties of 14 people or more.