The clean and modern décor of the Atlantic Surf Club is a stark contrast to the dark sports-bar-type aesthetics of the majority of Beach Place.
With varying shades of soft blues, pops of orange, warm woods, stainless-steel accents, and sea-glass-inspired light fixtures, the ambiance incorporates contemporary dining concepts for an atmosphere that is trendy without the pretense; beachy and inviting.
But it's the view that brings it all together; the space is encased by vistas of the Atlantic Ocean.
Transformed from Sonic Beach last June (a small takeout window for Sonic is still sectioned off to the side), the restaurant offers Beach Place visitors an upscale casual vibe with a prime view of sand and sea.
On a recent Friday evening, the restaurant was buzzing with Midwestern tourists in baseball caps and khakis, a few stylish professionals enjoying an after-work drink, and a table of 20-somethings barely covered in bikinis and board shorts having a bite to eat after a day at the beach.
"We're kind of something different in Beach Place," says general manager Christopher Torrillo. "We offer good food, a good dining experience, and a clean restaurant."
The menu features an array of fare at differing price points, with options ranging from burgers and hot dogs to thin-crust pizza and paninis to high-end seafood like grilled Branzino.
Burgers are available with a variety of patties, such as tuna, turkey, and lamb, served with interesting accoutrements like lobster, shrimp scampi, and harissa aioli. They're served atop butcher paper on a stainless tray with a bucket of skinny, herbed Parmesan fries.
Try the Mediterranean Burger; Angus beef is topped with onion marmalade, baby arugula, feta cheese, and dill garlic tzatziki. Each bite is packed with flavor, slightly sweet, earthy, and salty all at the same time.
Thin-crust pizzas are just that: crisp, paper-thin dough topped with creative components. Carnivorous offerings include pies, like the Toscana, with salumi secco, roasted red peppers, confit garlic, and mozzarella, and the chicken pesto, with buffalo mozzarella, pesto Genovese, and crema di fromaggio.
The vegetable pizza, with artichoke hearts, crushed tomatoes, olives, roasted peppers, mozzarella, and watercress salad, and the tartufo, sprinkled with roasted porcini mushrooms, pecorino, and garlic salsa blanca (an earthy cream-based sauce) are ideal for vegetarians or those looking to go light.
Lobster mac 'n' cheese is one of the most popular dishes on the menu. Served with a massive Maine lobster claw and crunchy bread crumbs on top, it combines small al dente orzo and yet more lobster in a decadent cheese sauce.
Trio of tuna tartare is another big seller -- and certainly more bathing-suit-appropriate. Thinly diced tuna is mixed with three flavor combinations and served with fried wonton: spicy avocado, sweet soy glaze, and cucumber ginger. Each is distinct: The spicy avocado is piquant and creamy, the sweet soy is slightly sugary but rounded out with the savory umami elements, and the cucumber and ginger is refreshing, with a hint of spice.
Owned by QueensFort Capital, a Miami-Beach real estate and development company (exclusive area developers of Sonic in South Florida), the menu was developed by the executive chef of the Atlantic Fish & Chophouse in Edgartown, Martha's Vineyard. According to Torrillo, the goal was to create a slightly more casual Florida version of the upscale New England waterfront restaurant.
Although the restaurant aims to give beachgoers a classier option on the beach, it tries to keep the price points as low as possible.
In the coming weeks, a new mixed and muddled margarita and craft cocktail menu will be introduced. Designed by Torrillo, the new creative drinks are being offered for $9 each. The ginger and jalapeño margarita, with mezcal, fresh raspberry, and tequila; the watermelon cucumber martini; and the Ocean Blue, composed of Stoli Blueberi, peach schnapps, blue curaçao, fresh berries, and a splash of Sprite, are some of the additions.
In an effort to draw more of a local crowd, the spot features a daily happy hour from 3 to 7 p.m. as well as a number of specials every day of the week, including a Pride Night on Tuesday with two-for-one martinis from 7 to 9 p.m. and $7 martinis from 10 p.m. to close.
Veuve Cliquot Ladies' Night is on Thursday with a DJ, free drinks from 8 to 11 p.m., and free bottles of Veuve for six or more women with a reservation.
"We pride ourselves on our food," says Torrillo. "We think it's the best on the beach. Now, we're trying to let locals know this could be your restaurant."
Guests can receive $8 parking validation for the Beach Place lot.
Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.
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