In any given week, the world’s foodies converge on this tropical mecca, seeking out new dining concepts, new flavour fusions and seasonally changing menus. There are two seasons: Warm and Hot. High above the skyline and a block from Biscayne Bay is the glamorous Four Seasons Hotel. An imposing glass and granite 70 floor structure, it houses the hotel in spacious luxury on floors 20-29 and offers two acres of pools and cabanas that seem to float on its outdoor terrace.
The Edge Steak, a casual and inviting hotel restaurant is the domain of Chef Aaron Brooks who took a slow road from Australia’s Gold Coast to Miami. He is a master of balance and has created a steakhouse-lite concept which is exactly the way we want to eat in restaurants today. Order a sample of his signature tartares: Beef, Corvina, Octopus, and Ahi Tuna – all with their flavour contrasts syncopated. Share a bone-in Tomahawk steak that’s been char-broiled at 1800 degrees, or indulge in the splendid Edge burger, or pasta with satisfyingly aggressive short rib Bolognese.
If you can get to the Edge for just one meal, make it the Sunday Brunch. Order a Bloody Mary and it arrives as an extravagant tray of bottles, pitchers, ice bucket and all the fixings. Extra large stone crab claws, huge shrimp, plump P.E.I. oysters share an icy counter; a whole roast suckling pig awaits your pleasure; fresh tortillas on the grill are surrounded by every meat and sauce you ever wanted to try in one of these crusty wraps. This is the luscious American style food of Florida, and we do not want to leave.
On the other side of the spectrum, is Villa Azure, a culinary outpost of France. Sitting in the hidden-from-the-street magnificent garden, its vine covered walls illuminated by rainbow hued lighting, and ordering foie gras terrine with bananas and mango chutney from a French waiter takes me right back to an evening in Paris, in the 80s. Romance, wine and food is what they do best, and while it loses a little in translation, this is Miami after all. To share, there is a 16oz. burrata stuffed with truffle and a 32oz. Chateaubriand. Fresh fish? Indeed. Steamed sea bass with poached vegetables, and to compensate, a rich Dover sole a la Meuniere. The chef stuffs a veal filet mignon with artichokes, tomato confit and scamorzza cheese, and with the right French white wine, the dish is superb. French convention meets Miami heat in a charismatic coupling.
Sara Waxman, OOnt, is an award-winning restaurant critic, best-selling cookbook author, food and travel journalist and has eaten her way through much of the free world for four decades, while writing about it in books, newspapers and magazines. She is the Editor in Chief of DINE and Destinations magazine.