Prism Tastes: Carillon’s The Strand Bar & Grill

January 10, 2018Pola Bunster

When you think of a Miami Beach hotel restaurant, ‘welcoming’ usually isn’t the word that comes to mind immediately. But with The Strand‘s airy dining room and nonchalant take on upscale classics, not much was left to be desired. Like those solid joints you return to time and time again, the new outpost at The Carillon Miami Wellness Resort is well on its way toward becoming a Magic City mainstay.

For first impressions’ sake, we’re already big fans of North Miami Beach and its preservation of Miami’s history. Art Deco and MiMo architecture still reigns supreme up there, and clearly so do the true roots of hospitality. Being “the place between the land and sea,” The Strand Bar & Grill has truly found a home for all culinary tastes. Its approachable yet nuanced take on New American cuisine finds fine dining at the perfect place for any curious foodie.

Executive Chef Stephen Ullrich has found a remarkable way to infuse every dish with honest ingredients–an extension of his kind demeanor to both patrons and staff. A Miami native, Ullrich sharpened his skills in NYC before returning to lead Tom Colicchio’s Beachcraft at 1 Hotel. Now in his own kingdom, he’s managed to make food feel like family, where every ingredient has a fair chance to shine. From first whiff to last bite, you can tell he feels at home while he explores new culinary paths–and so will you.

The Strand re-launched at the end of last November with a brand new menu and a distinct nod to the hotel’s upcoming 60th anniversary. The classic dishes string together to form a modern homage to the luxurious dining of the past while still accentuating creative twists of today. Simple and straightforward are the two standout seasonings, generously spread over the entire program.

The open kitchen works to the rhythm of artisans doing their best while the floor-to-ceiling dining room windows allow sunset light to flood your experience. We started off like every meal should: with cocktails, naturally. From Beet Mules to Pear Coupes and classic Palomas, each one was more solid than the last. Whether you’re munching on homemade, 72-hour bread or sipping delicate drinks, there’s no wrong way to start a meal here.

On any given night, you can taste the world at The Strand, beginning with chef’s rotating canapés. We lucked out with the Fried Tarot Root Octopus Escabeche and Cilantro Crema. You can take a break and peruse the raw bar for fresh-caught gems or sit patiently for what’s to come. Next up was the Stracciatella, oozing with cheesy, pillowy goodness and the sweetness of pickled plums. Then came the Roasted Squash, three versions of which blend together to make a perfect fall starter.

We were spoiled with the Roasted Foie Gras (aren’t we always?) and the Soft Poached Egg. The latter of which reminds you of an anemone, lobster and all. There comes a time in any meal when the words “homemade pasta” are uttered and everything falls right into place. Such was the case with the Beet Bucatini. It’s teaming with earthy flavor and cooked to perfection. The Squid Ink Tagliatelle might be missing that rich hue, but packs a fresh, sea-driven bite.

You might think that two people would have tapped out at this point. Well, let me disappoint you and gush over the entrées. First, the Dry-Aged NY Strip, Chef Ullrich’s take on a steak and cheese with pockets of comforting flavor. Is there anything better than the buttery crunch that can only come from a fresh chanterelle mushroom? Finally, the Sea Scallops which could basically be spooned by the bite. Even more impressive still were the desserts. A Flourless Chocolate Cake (gold leaf and all) and a Mango-Cardamom Semifreddo, both equal in exquisite presentation and flavor.

When leaving The Strand that night (and let’s face it, walking off the meal), one word hummed at the back of my head: thoughtful. From Chef Ullrich’s jovial presence and personal touches, to the friendly staff ready to make the experience a memorable one. Even the dishes and their creatively calculated layering felt both foreign and familiar. If you’re looking for a solid and surprising sit down, The Strand is where to start. Alliterations aside.

Photos by FujiFilm Girl: