Dinner at Casa Casuarina
You may have heard that Casa Casuarina has opened its Medusa-emblazoned gates to the public. Now locals and tourists can enjoy the castle-like landmark that used to be Versace's residence. The name of this new restaurant is Loftin's 1116 Ocean (in reference to the current owner Peter Loftin) and the entire experience is top-notch. The servers have that kind of gracious unobtrusive professionalism that is the hallmark of any five-star property (as they should; they're accustomed to serving folks who shell out $1,200 a night for a room). And the setting - well it's downright magical. The seating is mostly outside on the front terrace and though you can hear the booming soundtrack of Ocean Drive and occasionally observe tourists stopping to take photographs in front of the gate, the space strives and succeeds in creating an oasis on the busy strip.
The menu is refreshingly simple. Half a dozen seafood options, a handful of steaks and a couple of pastas. A starter of filet tartar (above) was an opulent Asian-fied take on a French classic with Szechuan peppercorns and yuzu mayonnaise. While the Caesar salad tweaked tradition with green olive tapenade in addition to plump anchovies and shards of Parmesan. If you are looking for a decadent and sublime bowl of pasta look no further than the fettuccine with a mix of chantarelle, morel and porcini mushrooms. Oh, and lovely shards of black truffles liberally strewn about. The dish had the perfect balance of richness and earthy flavors. Pure palatial comfort food.
And for dessert - a pretty copper pot of apple crumble made with wonderfully tart green apples and topped with fast-melting vanilla ice cream that eventually creates a delicious creamy-apple laced soup at the bottom of the bowl. The perfect coda to a romantic evening spent inside Miami's most-storied location.