Almost six years after re-opening following an extensive $7 million renovation, The Rusty Pelican, Key Biscayne’s iconic waterfront dining destination has undergone another transformation. The restaurant—which is renowned for its breathtaking views of downtown Miami—recently unveiled a new world class wine program, menu, and craft cocktails.
To ensure that Rusty Pelican is as well known for its wine selection as it is for its view, internationally renowned Master Sommelier Michael Jordan was tapped to curate a new wine list of over 300 bottles. All of which are on display in their striking glass cube cellar; a signature design element at the restaurant’s entrance. Jordan is one of the world’s most knowledgeable experts on wine, holding a Master Sommelier diploma from the Court of Master Sommeliers as well as a Certified Wine Educator diploma from the Society of Wine Educators. He is one of only 15 people in the world to hold both these diplomas.
Pallava Goenka, Regional Managing Director for Specialty Restaurants Corporation, which operates Rusty Pelican, states, “We have spent the last few years since our renovation re-establishing the restaurant as one of Miami’s most coveted destinations for dining and events. We wanted to continue to give our loyal clientele new reasons to visit, while enticing new audiences. Working with one of the world’s foremost authorities on wine to create a list that was both eclectic and accessible was an amazing experience. We chose wines that complemented our signature dishes and tasked Executive Chef Jimmy Pastor to create innovative menu items to pair with some of the incredible wines that will now be available. We look forward to taking diners on an exciting new journey through our wine list.”
Over 300 bottles, including a number of wines by the glass on “The Coravin Captain’s List” special wines in limited supply such as: Chardonnays (Chateau Montelena, Napa Valley 2014 and Kistler, Les Noisetière, Sonoma Coast 2014) and reds including a Pinot Noir (Gran Moraine, Yamhill-Carlton District, Willamette Valley 2013) as well as Cabernet Sauvignon (Caymus 2014 and Mt. Brave, Mt. Veeder 2013 both from Napa Valley). Other notable reds include a Shiraz (Molly Dooker "The Boxer" Australia 2015); Pinot Noir (Williams Selyem, Russian River Valley 2014); and an exceptional Carménère (Montes, Purple Angel, Colchagua Valley, Chile 2013). Outstanding Champagnes highlighted on the menu include Nicolas Feuillate Blanc de Blanc, Armand De Brignac Brut, and Louis Roederer, Cristal. Other sparkling options are Prosecco, Veneto, Italy; Saracco, Moscato di Asti, Piemonte, Italy; and Del Poggio, Brachetto, Piemonte, Italy (a sweet, sparkling rosé).
Chef Pastor’s menu is a perfect complement to the restaurant’s idyllic waterside perch, with a wide array of fresh seafood and raw bar selections, along with signature dishes like 16 oz. bone-in rib eye and Niman Ranch bone-in 20 oz. pork chop as well as unique garden-fresh salads and house-made pastas that guests have clamored for. New dishes include King Caesar Oyster Duo with passionfruit and Fresno peppers/crispy buttermilk and coriander; Braised Boar Shank accompanied by rosemary rainbow potatoes and a Port and cherry gastrique; Prime Beef Tartare layered with foie gras, quail egg and black garlic and Chilled Crab Salad with fennel, orange, cucumber and tarragon vinaigrette. Crusted Lamb Rack with boniato, minty pea puree, and exotic mushrooms; and Sea Bass Crudo topped with smoked coconut vinaigrette and bacon sand are now available exclusively at dinner, while a Lobster Po’Boy accompanied by malt vinegar slaw and tangy pickled green tomatoes, will delight diners at lunch and brunch.
On the heels of the launch of the newly revamped wine program and tantalizing new menu items, Head Mixologist Oscar Amaya (formerly of Ariete and Baby Jane) has created a new cocktails list. In a space that offers one of Miami’s best sunset Happy Hour settings—seemly tailor-made for sipping cocktails while enjoying the view. Amaya was tapped in late 2016 to craft unique cocktails designed to enhance the iconic waterfront dining destination’s libations offerings.
Finding a way to execute exciting, innovative cocktails yet at the same time cater to the busy restaurant’s dining, special events and bar patrons, Pallava Goenka, Regional Managing Director for Specialty Restaurants Corporation (SRC) worked with Amaya, putting in months of research as they developed the program. “No detail was overlooked”, said Goenka. “We spent a lot of time designing not only the cocktails but the actual look and feel of the menus, selecting the right glassware, garnishes and investing in a new ice machine to help insure we were creating a cocktail program equal to our magnificent setting.”
Embracing one of the hottest trends in cocktails today, the new menu contains five different takes on the classic gin and tonic. Simply labeled Gin #1 through Gin #5 each drink is made with a different brand of the fragrant spirit and incorporates different flavors ranging from thyme & apricot and lemon & basil, to passionfruit & tarragon.
Other cocktails perfect for sipping at the gorgeous waterfront restaurant include the Floridita—inspired by the historic, first restaurant and cocktail bar in the old city of Havana, which was famous for its rum-based cocktails and was an old haunt of Ernest Hemingway. Bacardi 8, fresh lime juice, sugar cane syrup, egg white and mint are combined to create the perfect tribute to Cuba in its heyday. Some other highlights of the new libations are the Agave Sunset—with Creyente mezcal, passion fruit puree, blue agave, fresh raspberries and house-made sour mix; Missing Summer—inspired by the natural beauty of Key Biscayne with a spicy and well-balanced flavor with Mezcal, fresh lime juice, rich simple syrup, Luxardo maraschino, green chartreuse, jalapeno, and a rosemary and lime garnish and for those who love a good whiskey-based cocktail, the JT Boulevardier—named after SRC’s CEO John Tallichet—contains Michter's Rye, Foro Amaro, Carpano Bianco, and orange bitters with an orange peel garnish.
Rusty Pelican’s sushi and sashimi offerings, also available at the bar, go great with the Nihon Teien. The cocktail blends Bombay Sapphire gin, Junmai sake, fresh lime juice, home-made basil syrup, and ginger beer. The Nihon Teien, meaning garden in Japanese, is served in a metal martini glass reflecting the futuristic spirit of contemporary Japanese cities. All of these fabulous libations, created by Amaya, can be enjoyed in the dining room as well as the bar/lounge area and on the bay side patio overlooking the downtown Miami skyline.
The restaurant, boasting spectacular views has a vibrant energy, which draws diners in, making it a perfect hotspot for dinner, drinks and special events. Catering options are flexible so that guests may customize the menus to fit any event or budget—from a casual cocktail party to a formal wedding for 500.
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