Is 24th St and Collins still considered South Beach? I certainly think not after visiting the new Metropolitan Hotel by COMO at 2445 Collins Ave. The 1939 Art Deco classic (one of the few still left north of Ocean Drive) has been completely renovated by high end Singapore based COMO hotel group into a quiet, luxury boutique hotel on a stretch of the beach mostly occupied by condos, and therefore rarely overrun with tourists and visitors.
The Art Deco details have been lovingly restored from the vaulted ceiling, large fluted columns and terrazzo floor, but it is The Traymore Bar and Restaurant that reminds one of the almost casual elegance of dining in the 30’s and 40’s.
Chef Jonathan Lane helms the kitchen, which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, one of the challenges facing any hotel restaurant chef, yet he has embraced it with passion, having literally grown up cooking in the luxury hotel kitchens for The Four Seasons in Dallas, Las Vegas and New York City.
I sat down with Chef Lane this week to talk about his return to the Miami dining scene after many years and his excitement about the changes he has seen and where he sees Miami going in terms of food and dining.
Chef Lane grew up on a farm in Kansas, with a mother who was an excellent baker and cook, and a father who ran the family farm and taught Chef Lane about respect for good produce, and understanding how things “should” taste. They fished and hunted throughout the mid-west countryside and Chef Lane learned the skill of butchering game and preparing fresh fish.
After a brief stint as a Journalism student, Chef Lane, who loved to cook and was the resident chef among his college friends, enrolled in the culinary program at The Arts Institute in Fort Lauderdale, interning in and around the South Florida area. By age 26, Chef Lane secured a position as Sous Chef at the Four Seasons in Dallas, and continued his career working in the fine dining kitchens at The Four Seasons Las Vegas, Chicago and New York City, before returning to Florida in 2013.
An avid fisherman (who told me if he wasn’t a chef he would be a fishing guide), his passion for freshly prepared fish is evident in the menu offerings, as Chef explained how fortunate he is to be able to secure such a variety of local fish right off the coastline and how his menu changes depending on which fish come off that boat, truly “sea to table”.
On special when I dined with friends for dinner this past week was a fresh Hogfish Snapper, fished off Bimini, and caught by spear (check out the teeth!). It was delicately prepared whole, pan-seared and topped with fresh kale, toasted almonds, lemon and capers. A light touch to every fish dish is Chef Lanes philosophy as he feels fresh fish and fine cuts of meat should not need heavy seasoning and sauces. He prefers simple preparation to highlight the delicate flavors.
The Tuna Tartare starter was delicious and colorful, topped with fresh orange slices, avocado and enhanced by delicate purple flowers.
His produce is sourced daily from farms like Paradise and Dino’s in Homestead, where fresh greens, herbs, tomatoes and edible flowers are artfully placed on each plate.
The grilled octopus was topped with fresh frisee and greens and on an olive and herb pesto and was moist and so tender I could cut it with a fork. Chef Lane shared with me that they have a secret way of preparing the octopus to eliminate any toughness.
The Ivory Salmon, another unique main course special, is flown in from Alaska, lightly poached and served over a corn cake and surrounded by fresh peas, dill and edible flowers, all from the local farms. My dinner guest was a bit disappointed as she felt it lacked enough flavor, but can be a nice selection if you desire lighter fare.
The seafood stew, included in season soft shell crab, jumbo prawn, clams, mussels and calamari in a light lemony tomato broth topped with just a touch of feta cheese.
For landlubbers, a bavette cut steak is prepared with a sautéed mushroom and pearl onion garnish.
When I asked Chef Lane how he felt Miami food scene had changed since he last was here, he reminisced about how exciting it was in the 90’s, with the likes of Chef Norm Van Aken and Jonathan Eisman, but that he feels after an uninspired 10-15 year gap, that the Miami food scene is poised to be, “ The most exciting food scene in the US ”. He cites the abundance of fresh fish and produce and the creative and innovative chefs arriving on the scene.
And his goal is to be the “Best Restaurant in Miami”, something certainly a reality after our evening there.
Also available, and created by COMO hotels Executive Chef, Amanda Gale, and embraced by Chef Lane, is a special Shambhala Cuisine menu, featuring raw and cooked naturally organic and locally sourced dishes, and freshly made juices.
The breakfast, lunch and weekend brunch choices are equally delicious and offer a well-deserved respite from the craziness of the rest of South Beach with outdoor seating on the breezy patio.
And desserts are an artistic affair, as Master Chocolatier and Executive Pastry Chef, Emanuel Alves, has created a fabulous collection of light but delicious and beautiful desserts with a nod to Florida’s citrus offerings. A fitting end to a fine dining experience…and on South Beach? Or is it Mid-Beach?
Wherever it is... Run don’t walk… to experience The Traymore Restaurant and Bar.
And watch for future MIAbites feature from Ergagit on The Traymore Bar…and it’s GIN BAR!
2445 Collins Ave
Miami Beach, FL 33139
NOTE: The Traymore and Metropolitan by COMO can be easy to miss as it is situated between two major Miami Beach redevelopment hotel projects, The 1 (the former Gansevoort) at 22nd St and both The Edition and Faena just north with sections of the boardwalk closed off due to construction, and some limits to sidewalk access. Valet parking is available, but don’t let accessibility deter you from going. Worth it! The Miami Beach food scene is getting exciting again!