During my last night as a full-time resident of South Beach (I’ll always call Miami Beach one of my homes, after all), I had the delicious pleasure of staying at The Betsy Hotel on Ocean Drive and dining at the hotel’s hip restaurant BLT Steak (not your grandmother’s BLT, but Bistro Laurent Tourondel, the French-trained chef who knows his way around a magnificent menu!). The hotel was named for Betsy Ross, the seamstress who was said to have stitched the first American flag for George Washington. Don’t be fooled by the historical reference because there’s nothing dated about the resort with its gem of a pool tucked into the interior courtyard surrounded by guest rooms. As I checked into the my room that afternoon, the intense heat of the tropics faded away. The lazy lancets of ceiling fans whirred in the hallway as I stepped through the door, feeling as if I were leaving the rest of the world behind me.
One of the things I loved most about the room from a design standpoint was the tailored feel that had been achieved with the furnishings, the moldings and the pale linens trimmed in tropical hues. Accents of straw, especially attractive on the ceiling, brought a textural liveliness to the room and heightened the great West Indies vibe that is so well executed in the lobby area. One of my favorite design aspects outside the room is the photography that peppers the corridors and the public spaces, some of it by Richard Bluestein. There was a rawness and patina to his images that made it the perfect relief to the crispness of the hotel’s interiors. If anyone ever doubted that a Georgian building could be infused with a modern-day beauty, one look at The Betsy clears that up!
So, while living la vida Betsy, the first order of business was dinner in the lobby restaurant with its giant blackboard that holds a list meats that would make a cattleman swoon. I settled in for a feast that began with chicken liver pate served with crunchy bread. I had a glass of Far Niente Chardonnay (one of my favorite California wineries) and he tried a new Cabernet Sauvignon they were pouring that night. The signature popovers were followed by a salad of beets, apples, arugula and gorgonzola, the beets bleeding on my plate in a delicious earthiness that was tart on the tongue.
The meal was all about beef, of course: Kobe, Wagyu and Angus the main stars of the lineup. Dessert was a crowning glory. The chocolate and peanut butter mouse with banana ice cream was complemented by a visit from the Chef de Cuisine, Samuel Gorenstein (there’s a nice piece about him on the NBC Miami web site). Last but not least, orange blossom madeleines had me pining for Paris. Compliments to the chef!
[Some services were comped during my stay, though the consideration received no special treatment in terms of coverage. Had I not been pleased with any facet of the experience, I would simply have written nothing.]