This Week’s Miami Happenings: The Flat, The Cypress Room, & Cafeina’s Mezzanine Open

SUNDAY: A Grown-Up Lounge Opens In SoFi
Wondering if the art of a conversation with posing hotties in a posh setting is the ultimate in oxymoron? Cedric Adegnika, the owner of The Flat, a new, Euro-themed cocktail lounge in SoFi, is banking on proving that allegory false. The spot is for those who intend to bookend their evening plans with a pre-dinner martini and nightcap in an environment where hushed conversations abound. As with all other Adegnika’ endeavors/sought-after VIP experiences, an outing at The Flat should be anything but deflated.

The Flat (500 S. Pointe Dr., South Beach) is open now. For details, check out the listing in BlackBook Guides.

NOW: The Cypress Room Raises The Bar
Michael Schwartz, the wizard who put the Design District on the culinary map, has opened his latest eatery The Cypress Room that pays homage to the good ol’ American eats, classic cocktails, roaring ‘20s, and taxidermy. Schwartz’ restaurantserves up Roel Alcudias understated dinner creations and Hedy Goldsmith’s sweets, with plans to unveil the lunch menu in the near future.

The Cypress Room (3620 NE Second Ave., Design District) is open now. Check out the listing in BlackBook Guides.

THURSDAY: Caffeinated Birthday
Wynwood’s beloved Cafeina is three years old. To celebrate this momentous occasion, the hyphenate spot (bar-gallery-restaurant) is debuting Mezzanine, the new upstairs lounge area, where burlesque performances and free cocktails will help you get into the celebratory mood.

Mezzanine at Cafeina Wynwood Lounge (297 NW 23rd St., Wynwood)opens Thursday the 4th. For details, check out the listing in BlackBook Guides. 

Be the first to know about the latest openings & events in Miami by signing up for the weekly BlackBook Happenings email & downloading the BlackBook City Guides app for iPhone and Android.

This Week’s Miami Happenings: Cecconi’s, Brothers Beckett, Serafina Brunch

NOW:  Cecconi’s Adopts Mixology Pairings
If coupling lamb chops with Shiraz feels too old school, head on down to Ceccioni’s at the Soho Beach House Miami for some mind-boggling mixology pairings on executive chef Sergio Sigala’s new, customizable spring menu. You’ll find yourself sipping on reposado tequila with Aperol and grapefruit peel served with hamachi crudo and a gingery gin concoction that tastes nothing like it sounds when paired with bufala mozzarella. Best part: the face time with the mixologists, who are as generous with shoptalk as they are with alcohol.

Mixology parings are now available at Cecconi’s Miami Beach (4385 Collins Ave., South Beach). For details, check out the listing in BlackBook Guides.

WEDNESDAY: Sibling Satire At The Arsht Center
Supporting the performing arts is belly-hurting hilarious thanks to Brothers Beckett, a cheeky play penned by a local playwright about friendship, family, and slacker siblings, laced with sharp banter and dark humor.

Brothers Beckett is playing at The Adrienne Arsht Center (1300 Biscayne Blvd., Downtown) through Sunday, March 24. For ticket information, visit the official website.

EVERY WEEKEND: Brunch Debuts At Serafina
The latest NYC culinary transport is rolling out its brunch menu. Serafina’s chef Marco Zuccala will be serving up Italian dishes, such as egg white frittatas and lemon ricotta pancakes, which will go deliciously with those bottomless Bellinis.

Serafina is open now (1111 Collins Ave., South Beach). For details, check out the listing in BlackBook Guides.

Be the first to know about the latest openings & events in Miami by signing up for the weekly BlackBook Happenings email.

This Week’s Miami Happenings: Ultra Music Fest, Harry’s Pizzeria, Lucali Opens

FRIDAY: Ultra Music Festival Rages On
Get ready for the ultimate freak show that mixes top DJs, herds of mask-wearing, half-naked club kids, hallucinogenics, and Miami traffic jams at Ultra Music Festival. It may be tough to top last year’s unexpected appearance by Madonna at the turntable, but that doesn’t mean that the likes of Azealia Banks, Swedish House Mafia, Avicii, and Deadmau5 won’t try. Should you opt to stay home this year, the Ultra soundtrack – slated to hit digital stores on March 19th – ought to give you a taste of all that you missed. Minus the traffic, of course.

Ultra Music Festival kicks off Friday the 15th at Bayfront Park (301 Biscayne Blvd., Downtown). For tickets, visit the officialwebsite.

TUESDAY: Charitable Bites At Harry’s
Harry’s Pizzeria is the location of chef Bill Telepan and his effort to raise funds via a $150 dinner for the replanting of the edible garden at the Phillis Wheatley Elementary School in Overtown, a project that emphasizes locally-sourced produce and nutrition in public schools, potted by Harry’s Pizzeria and Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink.

Bill Telepan hosts the event at Harry’s Pizzeria (3918 N. Miami Ave., Design District)Tuesday the 12th. For details, read the listing in BlackBook Guides.

NOW: Lucali Opens In South Beach
Sticking with the pie theme, Brooklyn’s finest has finally landed in South Beach. Heralded as the country’s top pizza maker, Lucali has opened its first out-of-borough post of this wildly successful, no-thrills eatery. No sign, no menu; just seven toppings to pick from, secret tomato sauce, and on-tap Brooklyn beers.

Lucali is open now (1930 Bay Rd., South Beach.) For details, check out the listing in BlackBook Guides.

Be the first to know about the latest openings & events in Miami by signing up for the weekly BlackBook Happenings email and downloading the BlackBook City Guides app for iPhone and Android.

This Week’s Miami Happenings: Dolce Vita at Tosca, Veuve Cliquot Pop-Up, Dore Opens

NOW: Mediterranean Tosca Opens
The folks behind Tosca – the new alluring spot boasting an romantic garden – put a lot of thought into your average Saturday night outing in Miami. The menu here features fare that is light, yet utterly delectable. Think perfectly cooked branzino and light-as-a-feather chocolate mousse to avoid the un-arousing bulging belly before you hit the clubs. Speaking of vanity, the little boudoir located behind the bar offers beauty concierge staffed with a licensed cosmetician, who will up the notch on your glamour game. 

Tosca is open now (210 23rd St., South Beach) For details, read the listing in BlackBook Guides.

THURSDAY: Veuve Clicquot Pop-Up
Leave it to Veuve Clicquot to class up a joint. The champagne pop-up operating out of an Airstream trailer is parking in front of the Moore Building, just in time for the Keith Haring exhibit. For five days, the swanky mobile dispenser will sell Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label by the glass and bottle before it moves on to Houston, TX.

The Veuve Clicquot Pop-Up parks in front of the Moore Building (4040 NE Second Ave., Design District) this Thursday the 7th. For additional information, visit the official website.

SATURDAY: Doré Glow
Heralded as the feast for all senses, Doré South Beach is the newest addition to The Ritz-Carlton, where the French-inspired menu and cocktailing reigns regal. Adding to the gilded splendor is a dessert bar featuring chocolate fondant, apple tarte tatin, and raspberry. Unless, of course, you prefer sweets liquefied – like the chocolate cherry kick made with cherry liqueur, cocoa puff, Van Gogh chocolate vodka, and a touch of lemon – which at Doré comes in cocktail form.

Doré South Beach is open now (1669 Collins Ave., South Beach.) For details, check out the listing in BlackBook Guides.

Be the first to know about the latest openings & events in Miami by signing up for the weekly BlackBook Happenings email. Even better: download the BlackBook City Guides app for iPhone and Android and know every inch of this city. 

Music, Glamour, & Laundry at the St. Regis Bal Harbour

The other day I found myself in Miami (as one does) for the grand opening of the St. Regis Bal Harbour. Bal Harbour, for those of you who don’t know, is an area north of South Beach on the Miami coast known mostly for its luxury shopping center, The Shops at Bal Harbour. The Shops average $2,306 per square foot, which is how the success of malls is measured, while the national average hovers around $385.

The Shops at Bal Harbour were built over old Army barracks back in 1965. Eleven years earlier, in the space the St. Regis now occupies, the Americana Hotel opened. A Rat Pack hangout designed by Morris Lappidus, the grandpapi of Miami design, the Americana Hotel was the crown jewel of what was then the American Riviera. By the time that was imploded in 2007, it had already, one might argue, lost its vivacious spark. If you’re into implosion porn, check out the video of it all tumbling down.

Anyway, as I was saying: I found myself in Miami at the grand opening. The 243-room hotel was designed by Yabu Pushelberg, the New York design firm. I always thought it was one guy with a very interesting ethnic background. (I didn’t know Japanese Jews existed though I recently found out on the internet that all Japanese people might be Jewish!) In fact, it’s two very nice gentlemen, George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg. The lobby is like Versailles-meets-Sammy Davis Jr.’s rec room. It’s not gaudy in a traditional Miami sense, but it definitely has guts—bright, shiny guts. The marble floors are marbled with a black marble with white bursts called Godflower and it is quarried specifically for St. Regis. The mirrors, which line the wall in beveled boxes, are hand antiqued. There’s a restaurant, J & G Grill, by Jean-Georges Vongerichten, plus another tapas joint called Atlantico. There are two pools, one for family folk and one for adults and, best of all, you can sit on the beach — to which the property has usufructuary rights — and be served things like salads with sushi-grade tuna and also, wonderfully, alcohol. Someone even takes the time every morning to carve a little logo of the St. Regis in the sand. There are massive jugs of sunscreen which I didn’t but do highly recommend using.

The rooms are great suites of solitude. Mine overlooked the ocean, was larger than my entire house, and had a washer and dryer. This last bit was, for me, the primus inter pares. I was in Miami for the weekend, with only two pairs of pants, a pair of shorts, and three shirts. I did at least eight loads of laundry. Just because I could.

The deal with these grand openings—and with St. Regis in particular—is that they have brand ambassadors down there to mingle with the press and other more local celebrities. The St. Regis, for instance, has a relationship with Jason Wu and Nacho Figueras, the polo player, who are Brand Connoisseurs.  This whole media-celebrity interaction is sometimes awkward. For instance, Nacho Figueras is a very cool, laid-back guy. We talked about tattoos. His wife, Delfina, is also super friendly and has a tattoo of a dolphin on her ankle. Jason Wu, on the other hand, also seems quite nice, but what do he and I really have to discuss? He spent most of his time—at a Midnight Supper and, later, at the Opening Gala—chattering with the model Arizona Muse, his partner Gustavo Rangel (the Pierre Bergé to his YSL), and to the socialite Olivia Chantecaille. This, of course, is natural since a) there’s none of the uncertainty, so chilling in social intercourse, as to whether they are conversing with him due to his fame since they too are famous and b) they exist in overlapping spheres. I, instead, spent my time talking to Olivia’s husband, a guy named Ren who, nicely, stands every time he shakes someone’s hand, and Frits Van Paasschen, the CEO and President of Starwood. First of all, his last name sounds like Van Passion, which is great. Second of all, read his bio. He’s extremely interesting to talk to, not really famous, and we exist in overlapping spheres.

The climax of the event was the Grand Opening party, a lavish poolside affair. There were many people there. In fact, the entire demimonde of Bal Harbour showed up. They are, as a demographic, sparklier than their New York counterparts and also of more indeterminate age. They do, however, like heavy hors d’oeuvres as much as their Northerly cohort. In this they were not disappointed. Lobster on a bamboo skewer! Steak cut thinkly! Caviar in little beady mounds! There was a woman making sushi standing in a fountain, wearing galoshes. The entertainment was a really tremendous band called Jonathan Batiste and His Stay Human band, a group associated with Jazz From Lincoln Center with hints of a Second Line brass band though they were equally at home covering Lady Gaga as they were Charlie Mingus.

The climax of the climax—le grand petit mort, if you will—was a celebratory sabering of legion champagne bottles. These were held by a long line of gray-clad butlers who would not have looked out of place in a Kazuo Ishiguro novel. (I had a butler. Her name was Marina and she brought me as much detergent as I wanted.) As soon as the bubbles arced across the air, an impressive fireworks display began over the ocean. They were nice bookends to the implosion five years ago that cleared the way for the St. Regis.

I hung around for a few minutes after the fireworks, long enough to see Diane Kruger talking to Jason Wu in the VIP section. (Naturally.) I was briefly entranced by some sparkly dresses. I talked to the band. I ate some more seafood croquettes. Then I headed through the marbled lobby, passed the mirrored walls, up the keyless elevator and into my room. I took off my pants, shed my shirt, and did a load of laundry.

What to Expect From the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival

The Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival reloads this weekend for another year of tropical culinary excess. To understand the festival’s true spring break-like essence and what it has evolved into during the 11 years of its existence, consider this scene from last year’s event: Paula Deen, the living patron saint of butter and diabetes, is standing onstage underneath a giant white tent built on the sugar-sand of Miami Beach as hundreds of her Deeniacs scream and whistle. Wearing a flowing, Pepto Bismol-colored muumuu over black leggings, her eyes shielded by sunglasses so large that she resembles a tree frog, Deen then asks, in her thicker-than-grits Savannah drawl, how many in the audience are there “hoping to see my britches to fall down?” An unlikely roar erupts. Clearly they saw the viral clip of her South Beach appearance from 2010 when the doughy, silver-haired former agoraphobe lost the integrity of her pantaloons.

Prowling the stage in 2011, she promises no such “moon over Miami” would revisit, but then grabs her butterboobs and suggests that perhaps “my falsies might fall out.” Moments later, her Food Network compadre Robert Irvine, walks onstage wearing a sky blue body shirt and cradling a giant dish of butter. Deen suggests he remove his shirt all Chippendales-like. Instead, he dips an index finger into the dairy product, takes a lick and then rubs the remainder all over his ribbed abs. As her husband Michael watches, Deen drops down for a lick off his hairy belly. And then Irvine inexplicably goes down on all fours with the precision of a man who has great experience doing so. Deen proceeds to ride him like a jockey to the delight of the Photoshop geniuses who would go on to create PaulaDeenRidingThings.com.

To borrow a phrase, this festival is no ordinary day at the beach.

Originally conceived by organizer Lee Schrager as a fundraiser for Florida International University’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, the festival last year sold more than 53,000 tickets to more than 40 events and raised $2.2 million. In a decade, SoBe has eclipsed Aspen’s Food & Wine Classic in popularity and prestige. For four days, Miami’s South Beach district turns into a rollicking buffet of strange and glitzy decadence as Food Network personalities and reality TV stars descend on Florida’s nether region to pimp their brands, press the flesh, see their friends, and blow off some steam.

“Its sun and surf and sex and suds,” Miami chef Norman Van Aken told me last year. Van Aken, father of New World cuisine and executive chef at the Miami Culinary Institute’s Tuyo, says the festival is “the big daddy of food festivals like American Idol is the big daddy of American TV.”

If that’s the case, then spiky-haired bro Guy Fieri is South Beach’s Steven Tyler. He and Emeril Lagasse will host the first big shindig of the weekend on Thursday night, Moet Hennessy’s the Q, presented by Allen Brothers Steaks. This is the first year for the event since the retirement in 2011 of the festival’s wildly popular BubbleQ event, which married the venerable pastimes of barbecue and carbonated French beverages. BubbleQ was the festival’s way of keeping it real, inviting the likes of barbecue gods like Myron Mixon and Chris Lilly to pull some pork seaside with Food Network stars like Bobby Flay of Mesa Grill in New York City and such locals as Miami Beach chefs Dewey Losasso of The Forge and Mark Zeitouni of Lido. What has changed for this year? Not much. Different brand of bubbly and different chefs but the same beachside tent behind the Delano Hotel. And the same expensive ticket — $300 a pop. For another hundred bucks, patrons get a 45-minute VIP head-start at the chandeliered hog trough.

This year’s heavy hitters include Stephen Stryjewski of Cochon in New Orleans, Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, and Ben Ford of Ford’s Filling Station in Culver City, California (Ben’s dad is some old guy named Harrison.) The local roster includes Michelle Bernstein of SRA. Martinez and Jordi Vallés of J&G Grill.

The big change is that this year’s Q will have a three-hour after-party called The Q After Dark (which is odd, because the Q itself takes place in the dark). One imagines besotted foodies raving barefoot on the beach, reeking of KC Masterpiece parfum as DJ Ruckus spins his trance-hop canon from Phunked Up Records.

If that hasn’t crushed all culinary souls, Friday’s schedule includes Rachael Ray’s Burger Bash, a carne-extravaganza featuring 30 chefs from joints across the country. Meatmeister Michael Symon of B-Spot Burgers in Cleveland is going for a three-peat trophy this year — his fried salami, provolone cheese, shasha sauce and pickled onion burger took the top prize in 2011. But it’s far more impressive that the burger craze — which took over for the bacon craze, which took over for the cupcake craze, which took over for the seasoned salt craze — is still going strong enough to survive 1,000 episodes of Ray’s daytime talk show.

Later that night, Robert Irvine (he of the buttered and lickable British abs) will host the Party Impossible bash at 1111 Lincoln Road. And while that might sound impressive, it helps to know that 1111 Lincoln Road is an open-air parking garage. A very nice parking garage in a very swanky part of South Beach’s shopping district, mind you. A parking garage designed by Herzog & de Meuron, the same Swiss firm that created the ground-breaking, Lifesavers-looking Allianz Arena in Munich. But it’s a parking garage, one with jutting, off-angle concrete pillars and uneven cathedral ceilings that give the impression that, cool or not, it could crumble at any second (which could be a buzz kill).

Saturday’s schedule hits the throttle with a blur of two dozen events, including a farm-to-table brunch at the Miami Beach botanical gardens hosted by Michael Schwartz of Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink in Miami. Seminars like those by fromageinatrix Laura Werlin’s grilled cheese and wine-pairing class lend the day an educational aroma. But before things get too esoteric, The Best Thing I Ever Ate Late Night Bites & Sweets party, named unsubtly after Food Network’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” series, showcases finger foods and desserts (read: munchies) at the Ritz-Carlton South Beach.

Which brings us back to Paula Deen, who hosts her annual Down Home Cookin’ Sunday Brunch. Last year’s shindig nursed hangovers with fried chicken, pocket pies and the lip-smacking goodness of Fort Worth, Texas, chef Tim Love’s beef short ribs with anasazi bean stew and ricotta cheese. Oh, and Deen making up new lyrics to long-established gospel standards. At a gospel brunch. Halleluiah.

By the time Travel Channel bug chewer Andrew Zimmern hosts the Trucks on the Beach closing food truck party that night, it’s a good bet Deen will be asleep. Unless there’s more butter to lick.

If that happens, all britches are off.

Miami Opening: Chalk

There was a time not long ago when no one would have believed bowling would become trendy. So there’s no reason to believe that ping-pong won’t suddenly catch on as the drunken hipster activity of choice. South Beach’s new nightspot Chalk, in fact, is counting on it.

Installed in a former Washington Federal building, the opportunity to shoot pool in an old bank vault is, erm, priceless. But it’s the pong tables that sets Chalk apart from other lounges with billiards tables. The sleek, LED-enhanced interior spreads out over 6,600 square feet, and is, curiously enough, eco-correct. An extensive cocktail menu is on offer, which should inspire a few naughty episodes involving paddles.

Anthony Bourdain & Co. Celebrate South Beach Wine & Food Festival’s 10th Anniversary

We all know that at one point, the entire culinary scene in South Beach needed a boot camp guest appearance on Gordan Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares. I still remember, back in 2004, ordering some fish dish that didn’t taste like fish (hey, aren’t we on the Atlantic here?), which I sent back only to have them bring me another fish that tasted even more unidentifiable. The food sucked almost everywhere I went, and your best bet was true, homestyle Cuban food — if you could find it. Thankfully, restaurants in South Beach have ramped it up considerably in the past five years alone, to the point where I can actually recommend restaurants to friends passing through. Another good sign is the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, which is celebrating it’s 10th anniversary this month with a roster of events and flashy food-types that prove it’s come a long way.

From February 24 to 27, South Beach Wine & Food Festival will spoil visitors with one of the most hyped-up food events in history. Not only was a Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival cookbook published (with a foreword by Anthony Bordain but Alain Ducasse, no less), it will be honored at a tribute dinner. Throw in Emeril Lagasse and Martha Stewart to host the Let Them Eat Cake event, Rachael Ray bringing beers and cooking up burgers at the Amstel Light Burger Bash, Paula Deen’s Gospel Brunch, and a slew of iconic chefs getting their Croqs on, and you’ve got a feast worth skipping the South Beach diet for.