1826 Restaurant & Lounge: Magnificent on Multiple Levels
You'll find all the usual suspects at the all-glass, four-story restaurant on Collins Avenue. There's the purr of Lamborghinis out front, the parade of Real Housewives in tight bandage dresses, and a short red carpet unrolled. But, like a beacon, the glowing fuchsia lights outside indicate something different at this standout standalone restaurant: The level of style matches the sophistication of cuisine.
Photo by billwisserphoto.com Short ribs
Once inside 1826 Restaurant & Lounge, there's nowhere to go but up. You can enter the elevator and head to the third floor, where you'll find a contemporary setting with a light display, elongated windows, metal barstools, and lounge chairs made from recycled airplane skins. If you're a VIP or a member of a private party, or you order bottle service, go straight to the fourth floor.
Or you might head directly to dinner, for which you will be leisurely led up the stairs to the second floor. There, you'll find a throwback, mod style with pod chairs in a sleek and refined space. The restaurant's four numbers are engraved in the brushed concrete. Take a peek through the window into the garde manger station, and you might see chef Danny Grant meticulously placing herbs, edible flowers, and final touches on plates.
Grant has garnered two Michelin stars and was named a best new chef in 2012 by Food & Wine for his work at RIA in Chicago. He now works every part of this expansive three-story kitchen. "It has to be precise," he says. "This work is unforgiving."
Photo by billwisserphoto.com The dining room.
The place opened during the South Beach Wine & Food Festival this past February. The pressure was on when Dana Cowin, editor-in-chief of Food & Wine, and a slew of celebrity chefs dined there the first night. Grant, like the restaurant itself, rose to the occasion, prompting Cowin to Instagram her tuna tartare and a congrats to the chef. Was that opening date intentional? "That is just how the stars aligned," Grant says. "I would've liked to have opened earlier."
Bread service is a touchstone of fine dining that can often feel stale, but at 1826 it is both casual and family-style. The selections are stellar and change regularly. Some recent choices include rolls made with roasted shallot, smoked bacon, and Parmesan; squash blossom and mushroom; and olive tapenade. They are baked to order and look something like a Cinnabon roll. Savory and flaky, they set the tone for the meal. "I wanna show love," Grant says. There's something about warm leavened bread that does just that.