I have to say first that I am writing this review with mixed feelings. The Dining Room, which has been my favorite neighborhood restaurant since it opened, has grown up and moved on. Now known as The Dining Room Pop-Up at Vesper, located at 1801 Collins Avenue in the recently renovated, beautiful Shelborne Hotel, it has joined the ranks of the South Beach lovelies. The difference, though, is that it’s not just another pretty face in the crowd. Though it now has that South Beach sexy vibe, this place continues to be all about the food and service.
The setting is definitely South Beach swank – low lighting, plush seating, polished surfaces, with a full bar next to the interior dining area and a wine cellar below. I do miss their signature chandelier and the family photos that made the old place feel like home. That said, the new place is a visual stunner The outside restaurant area is also beautiful, with its view of the pool area. The bonus is that it is covered, protecting it from Florida’s famous surprise rain storms. Good news for any patrons who had to run inside to escape the rain at the old place.
Now the food: The same quality that defined The Dining Room in its original incarnation has carried over to its new home. First, because of the new, expanded wine cellar, we were served our wine perfectly chilled and delicious. In addition to nibbling on the bread with truffle butter, marinated carrot pickles, we had the Cobia Ceviche and the Grilled Calamari Salad as our starters. Both were just-out-of-the-water fresh and absolutely delicious. For dinner, we had the Branzino, Heirloom Tomato Salad, and Cashew Brussel Sprouts. The chef, Cristian, knows fish and it was perfect – crispy skin and perfectly moist interior. We’ve now had, or tasted, virtually everything on the menu. Like the fish, all dishes are interesting, expertly cooked and presented, and delicious.
The service at the restaurant has always been, and continues to be, terrific. The Dining Room has a well-trained staff, friendly staff interested in ensuring patrons satisfaction. Their attentive, yet unobtrusive service makes everyone feel special and makes you want to come back soon to be pampered again.
The Dining Room, now known as The Dining Room Pop-Up at Vesper, is a real South Beach treasure.
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