Sunday, February 26, 2012

1MB Travels: Miami: Tudor House

It was my first time to Miami, courtesy of a business trip.  I was going to miss the South Beach Wine and Food Festival by a week, but I was grateful to have the opportunity to experience the city at all!
I had an amazing view of South Beach (well, "mid-beach" according to Google Maps) from my hotel room - it was incredible to wake up to rolling waves, blue sky and white sand every morning...

And if I took a few steps to the other side of my balcony, I had a view of a marina packed with stately multi-million dollar boats (there preparing for the annual boat show which was also to happen after the end of my trip). 
 Our hotel had private access to the beach, and I had just enough time to take a few short walks - it was too cold in February to actually lay out or swim, but the view was breath-taking.  Loved the perfect little cottonball clouds that sat so low in the sky it felt like you could almost reach up and touch them - and clear, clear blue waters lapping lazily up to shore.

Our primary purpose for the trip was business, so we didn't have a lot of time to wander around the city (very sad I didn't make it to Little Havana)   I did convince a coworker, who I will call "Hawaii Issue", to go with me to Michael's Genuine Food and Drink one night. 

And on the last day, since we had a little bit of time before we needed to head out to the airport, I dragged him out to a Guiness-Book-of-World-Records-fast lunch in South Beach.  A fellow food blogger (and cook) Christine Guzman from Miami, had recommended Tudor House as one of her favorites via Twitter. 

Being Type A, I had it all planned - since we had to go direct to the airport after, and Tudor House was part of a hotel (Dream South Beach hotel), I arranged for us to leave our luggage with the bellhop there, so that we can grab lunch and walk around for a few minutes before heading out.

Dream South Beach Hotel's aesthetic embodied everything we thought (non-Miami Vice) South Beach was about - very sort of laid back, beach resort-like but in a sleek, sophisticated way.  All staff were dressed in immaculate whites.  Decor around the hotel was very beach-life inspired, with ocean and earth colors.  Tudor House was sort of unusual with a bright, bold, orange themed Moroccan inspired front waiting room, leading to a sleek looking Art Deco style dining room with dark woods and and airy space - leading to an outdoor patio seating area that was quintessential South Beach...
...complete with vintage outdoor fans that say "tropics", teak furniture and palm trees everywhere.  All lit up to great effect by the beautiful Florida sun.
We had technically arrived too early for lunch - they were still serving their breakfast menu.  But our super friendly server kindly asked the kitchen for a favor, hearing how we were from LA and so excited to try their lunch menu - this being our last meal before returning home.  I asked what items would really be a local offering - and was immediately advised to try the Florida Stone Crab (market price) - the season was coming to an end and we are just catching likely the last of it. 
So of course I then had to try the crab!  It came as a platter of gigantic claws with a small bowl of additional meat in the middle.  Our server explained that the crabs are very muscular and there's a cartilege in the middle of the claw, so we should try to bite around it.  I'd never seen these crabs before - they had interesting black tips and reminded me of parrot beaks, huge and indeed very musular - the claw meat is slightly tougher than I'm used to but very flavorful and tasty.
I actually enjoyed the knuckle meat (in the bowl) the most - this was incredibly tender, sweet, juicy and delicious.  Possibly one of the best crab I've ever had.  I was glad I got to try the claws though (until at least, I got the bill - should have asked what market price meant - but these turned out to be $31 EACH CLAW!!!) Ok my fault for not asking up front.  But it was the last meal in Miami, so...splurge it was.  And I really was glad I got to try it.
Hawaii Issue got a rec for the Tudor House Ugly Burger  bread & butter pickles, fries ($16) - apparently the executive chef here - Geoffrey Zakarian, was featured on Iron Chef America, Chopped (and recent winner of The Next Iron Chef Super Chefs), and this is one of his creations, that he named after a customer made the cryptic comment: "This burger is so beautiful, it's ugly!".  Normally it's not served stacked like this with a pickle speared on top, but apparently the brunch crew decided that's how they wanted to serve this lunch item.   
We were almost out of time when we finished our entrees, but I couldn't leave without trying the cool-sounding Popcorn Milkshake salted brown butter, chocolate hazelnut crisps ($10) - so I got it to go, to down in the cab on the way home.  This was an awesome shake made with caramel popcorn flavors and sea salt for a savory meets sweet blended drink that was refreshing in the now sunny and warm weather.   And it came with two housemade chocolate hazelnut crisp bars which were like kit kat bars but a million times more delicious!!!  Loved this creative shake with the fun snack bars on the side!!!

All in all, a great time at Tudor House, albeit with the one very expensive splurge.  Loved the casual chic ambience and modern American fare, well executed  (thanks Christine for the truly lovely rec! :)) Would definitely go back next time for brunch or less spendy menu items.

[For other photos and stories from my trip to Miami, check out the album on my Facebook page.]

Note for tourists: Tudor House builds in a 20% gratuity to the bill, so no need to write in extra unless you received exceptional service or feel like being generous. I didn't notice and ended up leaving too much (double) tip! Oh well, our server was pretty fantastic!!

On a 7 point scale:
Flavor - 6 bites
Presentation - 6 bites
Originality - 6 bites
Ambience - 6 stars
Service - 6 stars
Overall experience - 6 bites
Price - $$ (2 bite marks)
Probability of return visit - 100%



Tudor House (at Dream South Beach hotel)
11111 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, FL 33139
Ph: 305.534.8455


Tudor House on Urbanspoon

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