The Place: The Lido Bayside Grill is on a raised platform deck reached by walking through the Standard Hotel on Belle Isle and following the paved walkway toward Biscayne Bay, passing meditative garden nooks with hammocks and swinging basket chairs. Snag a banquette under the tented overhang with fans or a table closer to the water under a huge umbrella. Every table has a water view surrounded by lush foliage, giant ferns and potted palms. There is an open kitchen glimpsed at the counter near the entrance, where plates of food emerge, and a full bar to one side for ordering a sip while watching gulls fly overhead. If one arrives by boat, slips are available.
The History: Executive chef Mark Zeitouni, born in New York to a Lebanese father and American mother, grew up in Davie. He went to art school at the University of Florida, came to Miami and graduated from Johnson and Wales after deciding he could play with colors and textures in food and make a living. He worked under Robbin Haas at the Colony Bistro and Mark Militello at Mark’s Place, then went to San Francisco, where he worked at Market One with Bradley Ogden and the Black Cat with Reed Hearon, got his first chef position at Bistro Viola in Berkeley and won the chef rising star award in 2000 from the San Francisco Chronicle. He returned to Miami and was chef de cuisine at Azul with Michelle Bernstein before being hired in 2006 by the Standard, where he is also the director of food and beverages. He has brought it a long way from the 1953 MiMo Monterrey Motel and ’60s resort, the Lido Spa Hotel.
The Food: As it is a spa with guest rooms, the emphasis here is on healthy eating. Start the day with crispy brown rice with a fried egg or ricotta pancakes. Lunch offers bowls, burgers (try the veggie quinoa patty) and sandwiches. Start dinner with meze, eggplant pahi, tzatziki and hummus, or try artichoke frites with a lemony garlic dip (deep-fried, yes, but you can follow with living “lasagna,” a chilled terrine layering raw zucchini, summer squash, carrot pulp, dehydrated and ground nut and veg “sausage,” cashew cream and crushed tomato sauce). Or choose from the grill mix and match. Order a protein such as marinated tofu, grass fed churrasco or Caribbean lobster tail and pair it with one side such as grilled kabocha pumpkin with toasted hazelnuts or shaved Brussels sprouts and one condiment like horseradish gremolata or salsa verde. There’s also vegan gnudi made from cashew cheese with wild mushrooms in sweet pea and truffle emulsion and chargrilled octopus with potato and cauliflower mash. Be virtuous and get the melon and berries, or splurge on moist coconut cake with coconut crème. Eat well, be mindful and enjoy every bite.
You Didn’t Know This: Kabocha is a squat Japanese pumpkin with dark green mottled skin and sweet, moist orange flesh. Portuguese sailors introduced it to Japan in 1541, bringing it from Cambodia (it was then known as Kampuchea, meaning “land of the Kambuja” in Sanskrit). It was shortened by the Japanese to kabocha. Eggplant pahi is a tangy and spicy Ethiopian chutney originally from Sri Lanka, where it is known as wambotu pahiya (“eggplant chutney” in Sinhalese) and came to Africa via oceanic trade routes.
If you go
The place: The Lido Bayside Grill at The Standard Spa Miami Beach
Address: 40 Island Ave., Miami Beach
Hours: 7 a.m.-11 p.m. daily
Prices: Breakfast $12-$23, small plates $12-$19, entrees $18-$35, desserts $8-$15