"Sneak Peek" inside 1950's classic hotel, The Vagabond

NOTE:  The anticipated Vagabond Restaurant and Bar is scheduled to open on Monday January 12, 2015.  We were lucky to get a "sneak peek" of the talented  creations of " 30 Under 30" Chef Alex Chang and it is worth traveling back in time to dine in the beautifully appointed mid-century modern decor on such unique and delicious dishes  as Pan-seared Beef Heart, Ricotta Gnocchi, Stracciatella, and one of best burgers in Miami.  Watch for full feature on MIAbites.  

“The Mermaid” at The Vagabond Hotel and it's soon to open on-site restaurant, is beautifully set in glistening tile at the bottom of the pool watching all that goes on around her… one of the original details so lovingly restored at the 1950’s former motel.   Everyone associated with The Vagabond, mentions “The Mermaid” with an almost eerie respect, as if she was waiting for this “moment” to embrace the rebirth of Miami Modern and The Vagabond.  Maybe it is just folklore, maybe there is a ghost, but “The Mermaid” is part of what makes The Vagabond so special.

When you first step into the lobby of The Vagabond Hotel at 73rd and Biscayne, it feels like you wandered onto a movie set for a 1950’s film.  The Mid-Century Modern furnishings, the original signage, the clean lines and blonde wood are all earmarks of the 50’s style of architecture and interior design.

The Miami Modern gem was built in 1953 by Robert Swarthburg, the same architect who designed The Delano, and has been completely restored after sitting derelict for over 10 years, and is the passion and vision of Miami real estate developer, Avra Jain.

The first of many such MiMo projects on the drafting tables, The Vagabond, has taken on the enviable role as the “game changer” in the area.

And so with unbridled curiosity, we jumped at the chance to get a “sneak peek” into this newest addition to Miami’s boutique hotel business and see first hand the progress on its new on-site restaurant, due to open in November.  I was joined by Jennifer Massolo, of the Liquid Projects and one of our MIAbites contributors, to visit with the Vagabond hospitality team and talk about the boutique hotel, the restaurant and the currently open Pool Bar offering craft cocktails and spirits.

Alvaro Perez, successful International restaurateur and art curator, was the perfect choice to implement Avra’s vision of a casual and welcoming place to stay and play. Touring the under-construction restaurant space was a treat as he explained the center bar area, open kitchen and commissioned artwork that will fill the walls and enhance the ceiling.

In addition to being responsible for the overall look of the Vagabond Restaurant, Perez also looks forward to selecting and training the staff to insure the right level of personable and professional service at all times.

Perez has selected his chef du cuisine as well in Alex Chang, a Los Angeles transplant who was featured in a documentary at The Tribeca Film Festival at the tender age of 22 and is now a bit wiser and well-traveled 25 year old.

Chef Alex, is especially excited to bring his vision for farm-to table dining to Miami, sourcing local produce and exploring new menu items using what is available.  

Recently relocated to Miami, he spoke excitedly of his experimenting with new products and making his own vinegars from available fruits like strawberries or pineapples.   He admits that the seasonality of Florida produce may limit some of what he can offer off-season, but he feels he will be able to be creative through experimenting and offer unique items not available on other menus.

While offering a more casual menu, Chef Alex, whose background is Mexican/Chinese, also plans to offer an upscale dining experience as well for those expecting that from The Vagabond.  He likens his menu to being able to suit the contemporary “vagabond”… a traveler in search of new and exciting  tastes.

As we sat in a lovely breezy seating area off the pool bar…and under the watchful eye of  “The Mermaid”, Alvaro and Alex also talked about the cocktail menu and use of local ingredients to create craft cocktails.

Jennifer, who is a major proponent of developing unique ingredients to create craft cocktails and hosts popular CRAFT spirit & beer events, shared her experiences with the Miami cocktail scene and encouraged the creativity in developing the menu. 

The cocktail menu is varied and offers creative drinks such as The Vagabond Collins,  a refreshing tall drink of gin or vodka, fresh lemon and lime juices, rekorderling pear cider and bitters.  The Coppertone (and very apropos as we see the iconic retro Coppertone ad across the street), and very appropriate for poolside, is Tequila, allspice dram, honey and pineapple for a sweet and spicy drink.  The Bramble is not currently  on the poolside menu, but will be offered once the new restaurant and bar is fully functional, but was a beautiful combination of gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and muddled black and blue berries in St Germaine Elderflower liqueur all poured over crushed ice.

The pool bar is open 7 days a week serving a variety of cocktails, beer and wine every day from 5pm to 10 pm.

Do you hear the spirit of The Mermaid calling your name?  Stop by firsthand for a drink poolside and see for yourself.

The Vagabond Hotel

7301 Biscayne Blvd

Miami, FL  33138

305 400 8420