The Social Club takes up half the lobby of the Surfcomber Hotel in South Beach, and it’s quirky in a good way, with a cool pop of energy.
There are comfy couches, chairs silkscreened with giant colorful flowers, and a dark green-tiled bar where clusters of giant glass globe lights dangle. There also are communal tables, where a sculpture made out of tennis rackets and tennis balls hangs on one wall.
Brunch is served all morning and afternoon, every day, with breakfast breads, egg concoctions, salads and sandwiches, cold-pressed juices, craft coffee cocktails like the kilt lifter with an iced double shot of espresso, Jameson and Baileys, and bottomless mimosas. The dinner menu offers small and large plates with sides like pimento mac ’n’ cheese and maple roasted Brussels sprouts with pecans and mascarpone.
Chef Blair Wilson is a native of Alexandria, Virginia, and became a chef by accident. He had a summer job as a handyman on a plantation owned by George Mason. When Mason was catering a party and was low on staff, Wilson came to the rescue and was hired on the spot. He came in to cook at big events while in school at Longwood University in Farmville, studying business management.
Wilson loved cooking so much that he enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. After graduating he worked at the Charleston Place Hotel, where he met his wife, also a chef. They moved to Washington, where he worked with several restaurant and hospitality groups and was discovered by the Kimpton boutique hotel chain, then worked at the Hotel Monaco in Alexandria.
Wilson then was sent south, where for the past 18 months he has been creating seasonal menus with a Southern accent, using as many local ingredients as possible. It is convenient that his parents retired to Marathon Key, where Wilson goes to fish and scuba dive when he visits.
No brunch buffet here, you order à la carte. Soft, cake-like ricotta doughnuts come with house-made dulce de leche and Nutella spiked with Frangelico, while the cinnamon roll waffle is paired with maple cream cheese glaze, BBQ pecans and blueberries.
The best seller is the breakfast sandwich on toasted challah spread with maple jam topped with avocado and tomato slices and an over-easy egg, good with ABC juice made with apple, beet and carrot.
On the savory side there’s a salad with locally made burrata on baby greens with heirloom tomatoes, pickled red onions and peach jalapeño jam and an alligator po’ boy with chunks marinated in lemon and honey with herbs and fried.
The dinner menu brings charbroiled oysters with caramelized fennel, absinthe, bacon and parmesan bread crumbs; charred octopus with roasted olives and garlic-dill labneh; whole Caribbean red snapper with pico de gallo, chorizo fried rice and black bean sauce. You may not have to pay to join the club, but it pays to have a tasty meal here.
If You Go
Place: The Social Club at the Surfcomber Hotel
Address: 1717 Collins Ave., Miami Beach
Contact: 305-532-7715, socialclubatsurfcomber.com
Hours: Brunch daily from 7 a.m., dinner daily from 5 p.m.
Prices: Brunch $12-$16, juices $10, dinner plates $12-$36, sides $8-$10