Michael Mina 74: Like You're at the Club, But With Really Fancy Food
Michael Mina 74 might remind you of a nightclub. Lingering behind the ivory counter in the Fontainebleau Miami Beach lobby, a leggy hostess in a tiny red dress is the restaurant's gatekeeper. She subtly eyes you and then escorts you downstairs, her black heels clacking on the marble steps. Inside the cavernous dining room, bachelorettes clink glasses of Louis Roederer champagne; men in suits chat over stone crabs and Vieux Carrés; and EDM beats pulsate incessantly through the speakers.
billwisserphoto.com Grilled quail and foie gras.
The windowless space resembles a secret lounge, a hideaway for Miami Beach's flashy crowd.
Past the glossy bar, where cocktails age in small oak barrels, seafood platters adorn nearly every table. Some come from the BleauFish -- the Fontainebleau's 43-foot commercial fishing boat and the source for some of the hotel's pristine seafood.
Its bounty includes a perfectly cooked red snapper laid atop a rich red curry sauce and served alongside shrimp, a plump scallop, and a fried rice cake. This dish proves that, in the right hands, even showy restaurants can boast delectable fare.
If you've heard of Michael Mina, this success shouldn't come as a surprise. The James Beard Award-winning chef oversees 20 restaurants across the country, including his Michelin-starred namesake in San Francisco. In Miami-Dade, he oversees Bourbon Steak at Turnberry Isle in Aventura and, since December, Michael Mina 74 at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach. Located in the basement space previously occupied by the dance club Arkadia, it's a stunning blend of nightlife and cookery.
Mina's food, prepared by chef de cuisine Thomas Griese, reworks classic, refined dishes with playful touches. Often, this calls for some showmanship. Two servers ceremoniously deliver a beef tenderloin to your table. "Oh, that's a big one," says one, scooping the meat from a black pot lined with smoked hay. She slides it onto the plate delivered by her colleague, who serves the meat with celery root purée, roasted radishes, and horseradish vinaigrette. It's a wonderful steak -- medium-rare, juicy, and infused with smoke's earthy aroma. It also shows Michael Mina can make fancy cooking fun.