Thursday, April 14, 2011

Food and Fun in South Beach

Brady and I went to South Beach this past weekend and it was the perfect getaway. 85 degree weather and relaxing with mojitos on the beach was a nice change from our busy schedules (more Brady's than mine) and the less than desirable spring weather we've been experiencing lately in Chicago.

A few highlights and recommendations if you are considering a trip to South Beach...

The Bentley Hotel
We stayed at the Bentley four nights and I thought it was a great hotel. Our suite was beautiful, with marble floors and a big wrap around balcony overlooking the ocean. The hotel has a full service Cuban restaurant, a beautiful pool surrounded by lounge chairs and cabanas as well as private beach access.
Champagne and cheese plate on arrival, can't beat that!
We ate at Prime One Twelve on Friday night and it was excellent. We started off with drinks at the bar and snacked on crispy bacon that they offered instead of the usual bar nuts. Great idea, although probably not the most Lenten friendly bar snack, oops! We were seated outside on the patio and had the perfect table for people watching. I was sure we'd see a celebrity because when we walked by the restaurant the night before Dennis Rodman was standing outside. Apparently, Prime One Twelve is the go-to restaurant for celebrities and athletes in South Beach, unfortunately no celebrities came in while we were there. 

The food and service at the restaurant was terrific. Brady and I shared a huge salad and then he had a steak and I had soy-marinated sea bass which was delicious. Unfortunately we were too full by the time the dessert menu came around but next time we go back I am skipping the salad and going for the fried Oreo dessert, it sounded amazing!

Saturday afternoon, after a great day at the beach, Brady and I headed to La Sandwicherie, a tiny open air sandwich bar that Brady's friend recommended. I loved it! It is so cute and I loved that they had misting fans which were perfect after our hot walk there. The sandwiches which are voted "Best in Miami" are enormous and cheap which is a rarity in pricey South Beach! Plus they offer black olives and cute mini French pickles as toppings, huge bonus in my book.

The Villa by Barton G (inside the Versace Mansion!)
The highlight of the vacation was a surprise dinner inside the Versace Mansion at The Villa by Barton G. Brady made reservations months ago and it was well worth the planning. I couldn't have been more surprised and excited. The experience was phenomenal. Not only was it awesome to go inside the Versace Mansion (it's closed off to tourists) but the food was excellent. 

There are two seating areas, the dining room which seats about 8 tables and the courtyard. Our reservation was for the courtyard but it turned out there was a wedding reception that evening. The dining room was absolutely beautiful, the walls are covered in pebble mosaics and the tables are set with Versace's personal china collection. Even though we couldn't eat outdoors as planned, I was able to sneak a partial peak at the gorgeous courtyard and garden area thanks to a nice bodyguard. Besides housing a restaurant, there are also 10 luxury hotel rooms available, including Gianni Versace's master bedroom (kind of creepy in my opinion). 
The Dining Room- check out the beautiful china! (photo taken from website)
The Courtyard (photo taken from website)
I think the thing that I loved most about the experience was the fact that the food lived up to feeling of luxury and glamor that you sense walking into the mansion. The food is deemed "refined continental cuisine" and had a touch of molecular gastronomy which was fun. Brady and I shared the Maple Glazed Barramundi and honestly if we had been anywhere else I would have considered licking the plate clean, it was amazing. For our main course Brady had the Rack of Colorado Lamb and I had Bread Crusted Diver Scallops. Both entrees were delicious. Eating at The Villa was definitely a once in a lifetime experience and one that you shouldn't miss out on if you are in South Beach!
In front of the mansion
Prior to our trip I asked friends for recommendations and drinks at the Delano Hotel was on everyone's must list while in Miami. Such great advice! The Delano is beautiful and turned out to be a great place for pre-dinner cocktails. The decor inside the hotel is very minimalistic with interesting pieces of furniture and artwork sporadically displayed. The real highlight is the pool area though surrounded by giant lounge beds and private and semi-private cabana's. I can definitely see why the Delano is on everyone's must list, it's swankier than places I would normally hang out but it was fun to pretend to be cool for the evening :)

Out by the pool at the Delano
I'm sad the trip is over, it was tough for us to come back to reality. I think the sign of a good vacation though is that you leave wanting to stay or at least come back soon and we both definitely felt that way!

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