There are plenty of coastal cities around the world with phenomenal seafood restaurants, mostly in Europe but also in America along the coasts of Maine, Maryland, California and Washington State. It has always intrigued me as to why Miami Beach has not joined these ranks and instead is known for its beaches, nightclubs, and "glitz", when it has such a vast coastline at its disposal with endless catch available.
The Florida Key’s Stone Crab claws are one of the few highlights, available during a short-circuited season at its centenary old temple, Joe's Stone Crab , but not the most versatile of proteins.
Is the lack of Miami born and raised quality seafood restaurants on Miami Beach due to lack of good quality seafood from its shores? The answer is probably no since there are plenty of restaurants in mainland Miami where you can get perfectly cooked and seasoned local snapper, grouper and more, such as Michael's Genuine Food & Drink or the recently opened Mignonette.
Perhaps this is because the infrastructure of Miami Beach does not include a fisherman’s seaport, deleting the possibility of creating the culture or the boats with the fresh catch, selling to the early rise chefs, the seagulls feasting on what they dispose, so on and so forth. Maybe, but still there is plenty of local seafood purveyors that can deliver the produce to the Beach, as evidenced by the popularity of imported concepts Milos and Lure in recent years.
The Traymore, located inside the Metropolitan by COMO hotel on Collins Avenue between 24th and 25th street, is a great example of precisely the type of seafood restaurants Miami Beach is missing… it celebrates Floridian produce by well-crafted dishes at the hand of Executive Chef Jonathan Lane: (http://www.miabites.com/home/2014/5/26/the-traymore-reimagined-by-como-hotels-and-chef-jonathan-lane?rq=the%20traymore#.VIb_mWTF_dI= )
Key West shrimp came perfectly grilled with a vibrant romesco sauce and frisee; other menu items such as the Squid Ink risotto did not have local seafood present but were perfectly executed and very well presented. A local “catch of the day” whole fish is offered roasted with lemons and capers, and a pasta dish (Gagarnelli) was particularly good with chunks of crawfish. Combined with its gorgeous ample dining room and outdoor terrace, The Traymore is definitely a seafood restaurant Miami can be proud about. Location inside a hotel can be a turn off for some, but The Traymore is an Art Deco gem recently reopened and in Miami Beach probably half the commercial real estate if not more are hotels, so restaurants will be inevitably inside them.
A quick detour to Lure at the Loews Miami Beach yielded some outstanding cocktails from the one and only Robert Ferrara himself, without a doubt one of Miami’s finest mixologists. Much needed fuel for the second meal. Although we did not stay for dinner this trip, Lure’s menu also boasts an enviable array of fresh fish.
Upon arriving at Prime Fish, the seafood restaurant from the Myles restaurant Group (responsible for Prime 112, Prime Italian and Big Pink), I have to admit I got excited. If this group is able to do for seafood what they did for steaks at P112, we were in for a treat.
The menu is greedy, with just about any type of seafood imaginable, and of course, plenty of local catch. The home to what once was Nemo’s, has been turned into a true seafood lover’s paradise, tiled floors, plenty of catch on display, and casual seating, giving the impression of a true shack. Prices are inevitably on the high side though, which is consistent with all of the Prime group of restaurants but given its location and brand heritage (the “prime” from the Group’s names is associated with upscale) not surprising. Portions are gigantic, as in its sibling carnivore and Italian restaurant.
Prime Fish has the potential to become one of those Miami Beach seafood restaurants I believe are missing, if the execution and service were flawless and prices where somewhat easier on the wallet. Our whole roasted hogfish was good, but had a bit too much oil beneath it, and it took too long to arrive.
And as mentioned earlier, prices are geared towards the rich, the tourists, and corporate expense accounts.
At the pace Miami’s restaurant industry is growing, I’m sure there is potential for Miami Beach to one day become recognized for its quality seafood restaurants. Progress in being made, one meal at a time. Chef Jamie DeRosa from Tongue & Cheek recently announced his new restaurant called Izzy’s Fish & Oyster, which looks very promising.
Maybe Daniel Serfer will be inclined to open a Mignonette one day on Collins?
2445 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33140
1601 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139
100 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139