Written by South Beach Annie
Emeril Lagasse is to restaurants what Baccarat is to crystal. And, like fine crystal, Emeril’s décor and cuisine are elegant, not only to the eye, but also to the palate. When delighting in Lagasse’s creations you will find that, each culinary interpretation has a twist of flavor mixing southern charm with Louisiana spice. I’ve had the opportunity to dine at Emeril’s restaurants in New Orleans, Orlando, and somewhat frequently in my own backyard on South Beach. Each of them has their own charm and specialty. Emeril’s on South Beach has Caribbean flavor with Lagasse’s flair for taste and delicious temptations.
The South Beach restaurant is located in the heart of all the action just steps from Lincoln Road Mall, right on Collins Avenue and 16th Street. The décor is both airy and earthy with white tablecloths set against reddish browns; and it is impossible to miss the colossal wine storage, set up in the middle of the dining room for all to admire. And during the daytime, you can see the ocean through the French doors leading to some outdoor tables.
The wine list and bar menu have an amazing array of concoctions. It must be a wine connoisseur’s dream come true to see so many rare and vintage selections. For the trendier drinker, there is a great selection of martinis, including my favorite, the Lychee Martini.
In my last Emeril escapade, my friend and I were surprised with a Chickpea Puree with Tabouli appetizer not listed on the menu. The Tabouli had a tangy lemony taste that melted in our mouths against the creamy puree. Then our adventure was followed by an all time Emeril classic, his New Orleans Barbeque Shrimp with a Petite Rosemary Biscuit. I finally downloaded the recipe from Emeril’s website, because it is impossible to have enough. But when in South Beach, don’t miss the Fresh Tuna and Butter Lettuce Wraps garnished with Crispy Wonton Threads, Yuzu Ponzu and Basil Oil. It is a Southern version of sashimi in a lettuce wrap. Then, like Emeril’s signature “Bam!”, it awakens the palate for all the delights ahead. If you are a meat eater, the Grilled Filet Mignon with roasted truffles, asparagus, and Emeril’s own homemade Worcestershire sauce will never steer you wrong. It is definitely a slab of heaven that must be accompanied by a side of Plugra Mashed Potatoes. However, I must admit that the Andouille Crusted Redfish with roasted pecan grilled vegetable relish, shoestring potatoes, and Creole Meuniere sauce was my favorite of the evening. The surprise of “breading” a fish with Andouille sausage was simply wonderful with that hint of New Orleans flavor.
My friend’s favorite was the Banana Leaf Steamed Chilean Sea Bass with Congri, Mango Salsa, Crispy Plantains, and Habanero-Lime butter sauce. There was definitely something magical going on with that sauce and Emeril’s version of Cuban cuisine.
But the Voodoo spell was definitely in Emeril’s Banana Cream Pie with Sweet Chantilly Cream, Caramel Drizzles and Dark Chocolate Shavings. I could never get enough, at least until I cleansed my palate with some Mango Key Lime Pie with Cinnamon Sugared Crispy Fried Plantains. When you dine at Emeril’s on South Beach, please tell the manager, Sebastien, you read this article. Try to arrange a reservation through him to eat at the Chef’s table where Chef Tom can serve you himself.
There is an incredible jazz brunch on Sundays from noon until 3pm. Wonderful local talent like Davis and Dow, the fabulous DUO featured in our last issue, provide entertainment on a regular basis. Stop by and tell them hi! They’d love to meet you.
Unlike other high end restaurants, at Emeril’s you will be treated like family. It doesn’t matter which city or Emeril’s restaurant you go to. The manager, servers, and chefs want to get to know you and make sure you have a wonderful experience. Even when they place dishes on a table, they do so in perfect synchronized motion. It is like witnessing a serving ballet. They are extremely proud of what they do and of the ambiance they create in the name of great food.- DUO