The 375-room Ritz-Carlton, South Beach combines the classic style of Miami Beach’s snazzy 1950s Art Deco hotels with the beach-holiday look and feel of Collins Avenue’s oceanfront hotspots. The resort’s multimillion dollar art collection, featuring works by more than a dozen internationally acclaimed artists, has earned it fame as one of only two “art hotels” in South Beach. In more recent news, five new chefs have recently joined the team at this iconic South Beach gem, debuting fresh new menus that showcase their fortes and make the resort a go-to for foodies everywhere.
Non-hotel guests are also encouraged to enjoy all of the resort’s eateries and bars, according to the hotel’s newly appointed gm, Michael Rock.
“We want everyone, whether you’re staying with us or just walking by, to be able to come and enjoy any of our restaurants and all the amazing food we have here,” Rock says. “We’re really proud of it.”
On this particular night there’s a shimmering, full moon. The stars light up the sky and the cool ocean breeze blows through my hair. I stand on the resort’s 110-seat DiLido Beach Club, South Beach’s only oceanfront restaurant and bar. Our group has been invited to welcome the new chefs and try a few tasty bites from their new menus.
Michelle Payer, who works on the hotel’s PR team, strolls out onto the deck followed by the immaculately dressed chefs. They’re lined up perfectly and each one wears an ear-to-ear smile. She introduces them as “the masters behind the menus.” First up on the cooking board is DiLido’s new chef de cuisine, Andrew Balick.
Balick’s menu is described as “sun cuisine,” inspired by small beachy Mediterranean towns and areas along the North African coast.
“We wanted the menu to reflect DiLido’s incredible oceanfront location with local seafood and organic produce and its relaxed, chic ambiance,” Balick says.
The Maine lobster and scallop ceviche and kusshi oysters being passed around are the perfect additions to the menu. They’re followed by a perfectly displayed grilled Harris Ranch shortribs and yellowfin tuna tiradito with queen conch.
FUN FRESH FLAVORS
Course number three is served at the hotel’s contemporary 200-pax American bistro, Bistro One LR. Chef de cuisine Felipe Arango Salazar was born into a family of professional artists and says his culinary creations are his artistic expression. He began his professional culinary training in Spain. The inspiration for the new menu at the bistro comes from Spanish specialties he mastered while he spent his time in Seville.
“The only requirement I had was for him not to keep anything from the old menu,” Rock says. “I said I didn’t want any holdovers. I told him to just start over. I want to taste what he brought with him from Spain.”
What he brought with him is some of the best, creamiest risotto I’ve ever enjoyed. And I love risotto. He also brings out goat cheese salad with roasted eggplant and purple potatoes. It is crisp and super creamy, a perfect way to start the course. It is followed with Galician octopus, and the meal is topped off with New Zealand rack lamb and baked sweet potato.
Jason Morale, the hotel’s new executive pastry chef, has the arduous task of capping off the evening with some extravagantly decadent desserts. We make our way to Lapidus Lounge, the hotel’s chic gathering spot displaying most of the hotel’s multimillion dollar art collection.
A tribute to renowned architect Morris Lapidus, who designed the original DiLido hotel, the bar is a gorgeous venue that serves cocktails and bistro bites in the wee hours of the night. A savory display of tarts, cakes and chocolate creations are laid out for us. They’re delicious and delicate, all at once. The chocolate melts in my mouth while the thick and creamy dulce de leche puts the finishing touch on the night. All I can manage to get out is “Mmmm!”
Behind these new, exciting changes is newly-hired executive chef Bernd Schmitt. Schmitt is responsible for overseeing DiLido, Bistro One Lr, Lapidus Lounge, in-room dining, banquets and all other culinary operations.
The acclaimed chef was recently featured on Lufthansa Airlines’ Star Chef program. The program provides meals for the airlines’ first/business class passengers traveling to Germany from 17 U.S. gateway cities.
His words of wisdom regarding cooking with fresh ingredients, as opposed to heavy butters and creams are, “It’ a shame to mask a beautiful product with a thick, heavy sauce. Let the food speak for itself.”
Meeting space at the Ritz-Carlton, South Beach totals 20,000 sf.