"Fontainebleau is an iconic destination that draws visitors from all corners of the globe who have a distinct expectation for great experiences," says Joshua Summers, vice president of operations, food, and beverage. "Michael Mina is one of the best out there and … brings an elevated, freshness-focused culinary experience that is a hit for our market."
Nor is the Fontainebleau management content to stay stagnant for a moment, Summers notes. "In the past 18 months alone, we've really pushed the envelope. We developed BleauFish, an ocean-to-table program complete with our own commercial fishing boat and six massive saltwater tanks in our basement, and we opened Chez Bon Bon, a coffee and patisserie shop [in the hotel lobby]."
Not to be left behind, the neighboring Eden Roc Miami Beach partnered with Nobu Hotels to become the Nobu Hotel at Eden Roc Miami Beach, which after a multi-million-dollar renovation, will house the largest Nobu Restaurant and Bar Lounge on the planet.
In Coral Gables, the celebrated Biltmore Hotel, a national historic landmark, is also keeping up with its contemporaries, albeit with a smaller food-and-beverage program that stays true to its roots. Its signature French restaurant, Palme d'Or, has undergone several revisions throughout the years, from offering nouvelle cuisine to molecular gastronomically influenced fare with James Beard–nominated chef Philippe Ruiz. Now the restaurant offers a prix fixe tasting extravaganza under Michelin-starred executive chef Gregory Pugin, who imports ingredients daily from his native France.
From a caretaker's standpoint, careful and intelligent investment in viable concepts—not wholesale change—is the key to keeping a property compelling. Shareef Malnick, who took over the beloved Rat Pack–era restaurant The Forge from father Al in 1990, has installed, among other improvements, an Enomatic wine system to complement the establishment's famed cellar. The wine collection took a multi-million-dollar hit when Miami Beach lost electricity for weeks after Hurricane Andrew in 1992, but the restaurant has added "Winebar" to its moniker and now serves 80 vintages by the glass.
"I reinvested in the restaurant in part because the city has been consistently improving as a tourist destination and as a bastion for international and national migration," Malnick says.
Magic City On the Move
Miami has a reputation for being a place for transients, and that's not completely incorrect. Part of what creates the city's compelling culinary energy is the immigration that continually sweeps through, adding layer after layer of flavor. But just as the restaurateurs and chefs of Miami's iconic properties have been shepherding them into the future, the stalwarts of the city's initial revitalization have also remained true to the region.
The original James Beard Award–winning outliers of New World Cuisine, once dubbed the "Mango Gang"—Mark Militello, Douglas Rodriguez, Allen Susser, and Norman Van Aken—have all moved on from the restaurants that made their reputations in the late 1980s and early 1990s. But they've stayed local for the most part, working on various projects throughout the decades.