Geoffrey Zakarian is in for a busy summer, but he’s used to the pressure. The chef, restaurateur, author, and TV personality has been a flurry of activity in and out of the kitchen since he began his career at New York’s legendary Le Cirque in 1981. Since then, he has, among other things, been an executive chef at 44, opened the Blue Door at the Delano in Miami Beach, and owned critically acclaimed restaurants Town and Country (both now closed). In addition to his work as the executive chef of New York’s white-hot Lambs Club and as a judge on the Food Network series Chopped, he’s been preparing his latest restaurant, Miami’s Tudor House, a “gastro cafe” at the newly-opened Dream South Beach hotel.
“In keeping with the Miami theme, it’s slightly more art deco than a cafe, serving cafe food at a higher level than normal,” he says. While the French-influenced American cuisine in which he specializes has modern elements, Zakarian says he’s reaching back in history more than ever, digging into 100- and 200-year-old cookbooks for inspiration. “The more I go forward, the more I go backward,” he says. “It always leads me to simpler times.”
● Casa Tua (South Beach) – Friday night ressies are hard to come by, so plan in advance, unless of course you have an in at the uber-private club upstairs. ● Bond St. Lounge (South Beach) – Ideal for a blind date. A dark room, quick service — just in case he/she sucks — and a trendy name are all it takes. ● Nemo (South Beach) – Perfect for a first date with that girl you really like. Not too pretentious, but perf for scoring points early on. Opt for a table outside and romance her under the stars.
● Eos (Downtown/Brickell) – Mix things up a bit and take your leading lady off the beach for some outstanding Greek cuisine. ● Prime 112 (South Beach) – Suggest this primo steak joint for a double date with your girl’s best friend. When the convo gets dull, you can turn to your porterhouse. ● Barton G. (South Beach) – Impress your out-of-town gal with “voodoo shrimp” — yes, it smokes — and indulge her sweeter side with the :Chocolate Fun-Do,” which is 4lbs of flowing Belgian chocolate. ● Nobu (South Beach) – Nothing works quite like spicy crispy shrimp. Start the meal off with a lychee martini and keep the good vibe rolling. ● Michael’s Genuine (Wynwood/Design District) – You should seriously keep this number on speed dial. A delish menu that satisfies almost any craving, stellar vibe and easy on the wallet. She just might find a way to thank you after the meal. ● Blue Door (South Beach) – Between the mouth-watering menu options and the bustling Rose Bar, you and your significant other will not be disappointed. A rez here is the perfect excuse for throwing on your party shoes come Friday night. ● Joe Allen (South Beach) – Low key, but never lacking in style or character — come here before catching the summer blockbuster. Plus, great bites.