Florida has long looked at the rest of the cuisine world with covetous eyes as Michelin stars rained down everywhere but the Sunshine State.
But now, Florida is finally gaining due recognition and 11 Miami area restaurants were granted the vaunted Michelin stars. One location was even awarded two stars. It's the perfect feather in the cap of a cuisine scene that has been really upping the ante in recent years and working to be taken seriously as a world player in the world of exquisite dining.
An anonymous chief inspector said of the awards for Miami, per the Miami Herald, "'The Miami scene was a real exploration ... We knew the high profile names like Thomas Keller [The Surf Club] and Joël Robuchon, but as we dug in we discovered places run by local talent, like Michael Beltran of Ariete and Luciana Giangrandi and Alex Meyer of Boia De, and we were really happy to highlight them. ... We knew the Miami scene would be interesting, but I have to say, 11 stars are quite impressive. Everyone knows Miami is a global superstar. Everyone wants to set up shop there.'"
Judged on five main criteria, Michelin winners must display excellence in quality of the product; each dish’s “harmony of flavor”; mastery of cooking techniques; personality of the chef; and consistency between visits.
Here's a look at the winners - grab a friend and go try out Florida's first Michelin star dining destinations.
Located in Coconut Grove, Ariete is the creation of chef Michael Beltran, blending Cuban-American and French culinary techniques with an innovative approach and fresh local flavors. Ariete is open for brunch and dinner. The inspector said of Ariete that the restaurant, "is immediately welcoming with a menu that weaves together Cuban and French influences to dazzling effect."
Located on Second Ave, Boia De is a modern-Italian delight that welcomes diners beneath a neon pink exclamation mark. The inspector shared, "Surprising is certainly an apt descriptor for Chefs Luciana Giangrandi and Alex Meyer’s distinctive and impressive menu."I
In the heart of the Miami Design District, Cote Miami is a Korean steakhouse with a sleek and sultry atmosphere. The inspector shared, "almost feels like a temple to beautifully marbled and aged beef, much of it on display in a nearby room."
Located in Brickell, the combo restaurant and bar describes its vibe as, "avant-garde techniques mixed with Colombian cuisine." The inspector called the restaurants presentation "dramatic" and "modern" and locals know how delightful the dishes are.
This Wynwood delight is inspired by the "legends and tales of small secret omakase restaurants in Japan." The design of the restaurant is modern and minimalist while the food is complex and tells a story. The inspector says the restaurant offers a, "tasting menu that never feels stuffy or overly reverent" but embraces the traditional.
The Den at Sushi Azabu Miami
Situated in the Stanton South Beach Hotel, The Den is an omakase room that the inspector describes as an, "intimate temple to sushi. Fish flown in a few times a week is treated and dressed minimally, often with just a single brush of nikiri."
French cuisine in the Design District; Le Jardinier has you covered. Inspectors call the restaurant "stylish" and add of the menu that it, "is a study of vibrant tastes and smart compositions that pack big flavor minus the heaviness."
A Mexican restaurant located in Coconut Grove, the inspectors made note of the staff's ample knowledge of ingredients and dishes, and recommend trying the, "hearty pork cheek carnitas with myriad salsas and snapper crudo topped with shavings of jicama and avocado aioli."
From the mind of chef Jeremy Ford, inspectors laud what they call, "his ambitious and brashly creative cooking" while extolling the location's chic decor and glass-front kitchen. The Florida native takes advantage of Miami's seafood haven location and also incorporates Wagyu beef, truffles, and more of the finer things in life.
The Surf Club Restaurant
This is the first Florida location for thrice-successful chef Thomas Keller, who has earned seven Michelin stars in total. Inspectors made note of his sauces, adding that they are "what this team does best, starting with the scallop crudo with buttermilk-basil dressing; followed by the brilliantly reimagined Maine lobster Thermidor with sauce Américaine."
L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon
And the only area restaurant to earn two Michelin stars, L'Atelier is another French delight in the Design District. With a modern menu and an elegant but playful atmosphere, L'Atelier's offers dishes that are works of art with flavors that are out of this world. Earning two stars requires a high bar of excellence, and L'Atelier meets it comfortably.
Florida and Miami in particular has been working hard to become more than just a state for retirees and Spring Break getaways. The Sunshine State is showing the world that it can offer a vibrant nightlife, a world-class cuisine scene, and the kind of hospitality services that competes with bigger urban hubs like New York City, Los Angeles, Dubai and others - and earning 12 Michelin stars is an excellent step on that journey.
With Formula One now a part of the city's present and future, moving into the realm of Michelin stars is just more proof that the city by the sea is something special, even though the world has long underestimated it.