Prime Fish: Myles Chefetz's Newest Is Destined to Be a Winner
For nearly two decades, Myles Chefetz has made a fortune by using decadence to attract diners. When the South Beach pioneer and chef-partner Michael Schwartz opened Nemo on Collins Avenue at First Street in 1995, the Asian-influenced seafood restaurant became an instant hit with the party creatures, artists, and models who inhabited the mostly undeveloped South Beach of the 1990s.
billwisserphoto.com Grilled whole Florida Pompano at Prime Fish.
A year later, Chefetz opened Big Pink up the street. The retro-style diner with a huge menu remains a popular lunch spot for beachgoers and a late-night stop for the drunken revelers stumbling out of nearby nightclubs.
Yet it was Prime One Twelve, which opened around the corner on Ocean Drive in 2004, that instantly attracted celebrities and gave Chefetz real fame. Against the backdrop of South Beach, it has been the nation's top-grossing steak house for nearly a decade, earning upward of $23 million annually. Bentleys, Ferraris, and Maseratis still line up nightly on the curb. Bill Clinton, Magic Johnson, Richard Branson, and Dwyane Wade have all dined on $35-per-ounce A5 Kobe tenderloin flown in from Japan. Amazingly, there's always an hourlong wait that many after all these years remain content to endure.
In 2008, Chefetz leveraged that over-the-top image into Prime Italian, birthplace of the one-pound, $30 Kobe (but really American Wagyu) meatball. And this past January, he opened Prime Fish in the space that housed Nemo before it closed three years ago.
On a recent Friday night, a lone ivory-white Ferrari 458 sat at the curb of Prime Fish. Inside, waiters snaking among dark mahogany tables wore white button-up, waist-to-floor aprons and wide gray suspenders, nearly identical to those at the other Prime restaurants.
Despite displaying a handful of the Prime empire's trademarks, Prime Fish doesn't share all of its counterparts' trappings. The music in the dining room is far more muted than the cacophony inside Prime One Twelve. There's plenty of space between tables and not a celebrity in sight.
And it's efficient. Instead of standing around praying for a table to open up, my guest and I were promptly seated by a hostess.
As we stepped inside the dimly lit foyer, a trio of tall, busty blond women in short, suffocating-looking dresses teetered across the tiny white hexagonal tiles of the restaurant's main room. The walls are splashed a neutral beige that take on a yellow tone under the dining room's light. But it becomes bright white, accented by subway tiles and mahogany molding in another room, where an ice-filled raw bar with massive Alaskan crab legs and an open kitchen are the main attractions.
The tall, dark-eyed hostess seated us and laid down a stack of dinner, cocktail, and wine menus, found at all of Chefetz's restaurants. Then she breathed a sigh of relief, glad to be rid of the hefty load.