Tudor House, Miami

Monday, August 01, 2011


On the eve of Miami Spice, I inquired if the newly renovated Tudor House would be participating in the popular foodie program. The staff replied with double good news. They confirmed their inclusion and even better, they were starting a day earlier. Which meant I would be the first paying customer to sample their Miami Spice menu!

It was early for dinner, 6pm, very early for Miami standards. This assured me excellent service and the opportunity to ask questions about the food and soak in the decor. While the hotel must retain its historic "Tudor" signage on exterior, the hotel is officially now the Dream Hotel, as part of Dream Hotel chain of decadent hotels owned by 39-year old Vikram Chatwal from Ethiopia.  Vikram respects Art Deco as witnessed by the painstaking detail to the decor. Untouched are the original terrazo flooring and oolitic limestone wall at entrance and in the lobby (now the bar), all elements of South Beach Art Deco, and seamlessly incorporated modern touches such as slate gray banquettes, black and white photos and Middle Eastern touches in the form of teaky wood patio chairs for outdoor dining.

The owners took four years to remodel the two hotels. It seemed like a typical Miami Dade county project-- an endless fountain to line the pockets of  contractors with no end in sight on the project. But here there is a happy dreamy ending...





First a drink at the bar. An employee recommended Peggy's Punch--a martini of watermelon, agave nectar, basil, lime juice and Grey Goose vodka. The initial sip started with a refreshing watermelon taste but the aftertaste was more medicinal. A fan of basil herb, I prefer it in my cooked meals and  recommend to leave it out of cocktails.



For my appetizer, despite the blistering heat outdoors (it's July in Miami and the sun was blazing) I could not resist the English Pea Soup with lime marshmallows.  Oh my northern brethren! The presentation and taste exceeded expectations. First I was served a white plate dotted with marshmallows and green sprigs.



Then Kurt, my waiter, begain pouring the pea soup. It was a glorious bright green I felt it was like my lucky Irish charm. Did I have to eat it? Couldn't I store it in a thermos until I bought my lotto ticket?






The texture was light and slanted on the sweet side due to the marshmallows.
Presentation: A+
Taste: A+

For my entree and eyeing the menu I was torn between the American option of Organic Buttermilk Fried Chicken or a latin cuisine favorite, a Cuban sandwich.  This was not an issue of calories as a meal can never be truly enjoyed if one is worried about numbers and weight gain.  NEVER on the Miami Spice program.  I had not eaten fried chicken in years and the combination with buttermilk was a megaphone for indulgence.



The skin was golden chunky thick and suddenly I was worried about putting on weight overnight.  Thankfully the skin did not stick like wallpaper to the chicken and lifted off easily.  So I decided to eat part of the skin to at least have a taste. Admitttedly I ate half of it. The waiter did advise the chicken was dark meat --even better. While juicy, both the chicken and skin lacked flavor. Where's the buttermilk? Was it used in the frying or was it simply the buttermilk sauce served on side?
Presentation: B
Taste: C

For dessert, I chose a favorite, Key Lime in the form of an ice cream sandwich accompanied by Italian merengue. What makes it Italian? Not sure. But I love merengue and used to bake it frequently as a child. How hard is it to use an electric mixer to beat egg whites? It turns out they were mini bites where the crust was 50% of the dessert. The key lime was a perfect balance of tart and sweet but quickly overcome by the oatmeal crust.
Presentation: A
Taste: B-


The biggest hit were the mini pretzels with a zesty port wine/mustard sauce! This was a complimentary appetizer to sample while waiting for my entree. Addictive--I asked for a second round!


I suppose as the only customer, the chef had free time to whip up other specialties and the waiter also brought out another amuse bouche (that's fancy way of saying single bite-sized horsd'oeuvres), a piece of King crab meat in avocado puree--avocadoes are the rage now in restaurants, except in Miami where it's a staple thanks to our proximity to Latin America.  Light in taste, flavor but perfect for a hot summer's night starter.



Al fin, (in the end) I definitely plan to return to try the Cuban sandwich which I heard is a rich pork belly on a sweet bread. Repeater candidates are the English pea soup  (with reminder to bring oversize bag to store thermos) and the pretzels and I'll venture another dessert. It's still a great deal! Oh and the staff is friendly and attentive.

DREAM HOTEL
(combines the Palmer House and Tudor Hotel)
1111 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, FL  33139
Valet $20

Metered street parking around (if you arrive between 6pm-7pm)
City garages nearby

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