The Who: Driftwood Room is a three-way collaboration between hotelier Jason Pomeranc, restaurateur Jeffrey Chodorow of China Grill Management and chef Alex Guarnaschelli. One of the latest in a recent string of celeb-chef openings in South Beach.
The Space: The Deco-style Nautilus Hotel (designed by 1950s starchitect Morris Lapidus) has been restored with modern swagger so that the dining room is outfitted in toffee-color leather booths, brass fixtures and a blue marble bar. Outdoors, hanging wicker lanterns cast lattice-work shadows on the ceiling of the patio and frame views of the revamped pool.
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The Dishes: Mediterranean-inspired. The menu is seafood-centric, but there are plenty of cuts of meat to choose from, including a $120 côte de boeuf for two. Prices are on par for South Beach with starters averaging $14 and mains in the high $20s.
Start off with crusty baguette and the house-marinated olives with grapes added in for sweetness. The crudo can be either cobia or lionfish and is plated with pequillo peppers, roma tomatoes and basil. Middle Eastern influences abound, like a lamb skewer served with chermoula spice rub and an eggplant dip with toasted pita. Florida shrimp a la plancha is finished with green-apple chimichurri, while the Nautilus pasta comes with charred octopus and sweet peppers. A dish of the moment, roasted cauliflower, is served whole with hazelnuts, rock salt and lemon.
Desserts include a chocolate tart and passion fruit doughnuts.
The Bottom Line: A simple, understated spot driven by a celebrity chef.