South Beach Restaurant Preview

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‘Tis the season for South Beach restaurants to bloom like so many poinsettia at Christmas. The neighborhood south of Fifth Street is going to get especially crowded with new eateries during the coming weeks and months.

Topping our Pavlovian anticipations is Au Pied de Cochon, which will debut at the Southeast corner of Washington Avenue and First Street. The original Pied premiered in Les Halles market in Paris, 1947, and Executive chef Didier Lailhaugue will be serving many of the traditional French bistro dishes that are timelessly popular -- including specialties such as grilled pigs feet with béarnaise sauce, and hot Lyonnaise-style pistachio sausage and lentils. Pigs feet at 4 a.m.? No problem: This bistro will hop 24/7.

Red The Steakhouse will be practically next door, at 119 Washington. Owner Brad Friedlander hopes to have this second branch of his Red open by early to mid-December. The wine room, the glass, the sleek design and red color will be in the same vein as the original Cleveland spot, and the kitchen will be helmed by veteran Red chef Peter Vauthy. As quoted in The Plain Dealer, Friedlander says he’ll add things such as stone crabs “and because of the Latin influences down there, we'll do more things that are recognizable by the Latin population." He also admits that Miami prices will be higher due to increased operating costs. Guess that’s part of what we have to give to get to live here instead of Cleveland.

More on Washington Avenue: Wolfgang Puck’s place will open in The Hotel at Harrison’s on Washington and 4th; the Cajun-Creole Ahnvee will take over the old Strand location at 621 Washington; and Hot Tuna, an Asian-fusion joint,,will jump in at 764 Washington.

Myles Chafetz, whose Prime One Twelve steakhouse has continued to prosper during hard times, is going to showcase another expensive establishment, Prime Italian, across the street.

Over on the Drive, 1116 Ocean is the first restaurant of the infamous Casa Casuarina that is open to the public. Mansion owner Peter Loftin and executive chef Dale Ray have created an “upscale Mediterranean” inspired menu that will include “simply prepared eight-ounce portions of fish and prawns” and prime cuts of meat “partnered tableside with a variety of rare sea salts, exotic peppers and condiments”. Chef Ray has worked with legends such as Charlie Trotter and the late Jean-Louis Palladin of The Watergate Hotel. Al fresco seating will available on the front terrace in the central courtyard, and by the grotto pool. 1116 Ocean will be open for dinner and private parties only, Monday through Saturday. Loftin estimates “the average price per person for three generous courses will be around $65”. With wine, of course, it becomes a three-figure proposition.

Molecular gastronomy and sushi share the same menu at the just-opened Enso on Lincoln Road (between Washington and Drexel). The menu touts “The scientific study of deliciousness”. Uh-oh. Initial reports have been mixed -- one friend ate there opening night and thought the food tasty and creative; another thinks they’re mixed up and didn’t care for the molecular stuff.

Also on Lincoln: The Touch team of restaurateur David Tornek and chef Sean Brasel, having closed Touch and sold the building, just opened Meat Market across the way in the former Pacific Time locale. The 180-seat contemporary steakhouse features “Signature Steaks” ($25-$47); “Reserve Cuts” ($49-$95) like a 16-ounce ancho-and-coffee marinated bone-in filet mignon from Niman Ranch; and innovative “House Creations” ($25-$29) such as tropical braised “fatty” brisket with coconut, mango, Cuban sweet potatoes and wild mushrooms. Appetizers ($14-$21) include “buffalo fried quail eggs with polenta frites and blue cheese béchamel; and Gourmandise cheese ravioli with Harris Ranch beef marmalade, local arugula, lemon vinaigrette and walnuts”. A “posh”, indoor/outdoor Crudo Bar will serve ceviches, tiraditos, and raw bar items such as “oysters with yuzu truffle mignonette, atomic horseradish and habanero cocktail sauce”.

I think that’s enough to chew on for awhile.

-- Lee Klein

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