How far would you walk for a great meal? I am talking about a meal that leaves you longing to come back again and again. Would you walk a few blocks or a few miles?
Well, I have a restaurant for you that is just "15 Steps" in the Eden Roc Hotel in Miami Beach. Don't walk, but run to this fabulous of fabulous restaurants. I am telling you that once the masses find out about this "find," you will be waiting in line to get a table every night of the week if you hadn’t made a reservation weeks before.
Most hotel restaurants get a bad rap just because they are hotel restaurants. In my experience, in most cases that bad rap stands to be quite true. This is not the case for 15 Steps. This is one of the finest dining experiences I have had a very long time.
Jeremy Ford is the Executive Chef. Remember this name JEREMY FORD. He is going places. The only way I can describe his food is by saying, “this boy can really cook!” And cook he did. He prepared dishes that were out of this world filled with flavor and simplicity.
Since I am the type that likes to try everything on the menu, I ordered the "Five Course Chef's Tasting” with the wine paring, which incidentally, can be found on the menu any night of the week. It is well worth the $85 charge. And if you fancy wine like I do, get the wine pairing combination at $150. It is well worth it.
I ordered an “Old Fashion” while waiting my first course and WOW, what a drink that was. It is their mixologist’s own take on a classic drink. The taste of the orange along with some “secret ingredient” and a dash of bitters highlighted the bourbon, which made for an Old Fashion like I have never had before.
As I sipped on my drink, I looked about the restaurant and found it to be nicely appointed with subdued lighting and a candle lit table. It is definitely a romantic setting for dinner with that special someone or a place to have a business meeting. The noise level was about average with contemporary music playing in the background. The seating was comfortable and I am so glad that it was as I was about to be propelled into a new culinary stratosphere.
Although I was there for dinner, the restaurant Chef Ford has a breakfast and lunch menus in addition to a Sunday Brunch.
The wait staff presented the first course. It was a Charcuterie Board beautifully presented on a wood board. Upon it laid house smoked duck, pork rillette, guanciale, foie gras torchon, green tomato jalapeño jam, and this wonderfully crunchy charred country bread. The sommelier pared this course beautifully as he did with all the courses.
The second course was an Atlantic tuna crudo, shoyu shisito vinaigrette, swank farm radish, avocado mousse and citrus foam.
The salad course of a mix of baby kale, roasted heirloom carrots, pickled vegetables, with a cauliflower puree. This salad was bursting with flavor and texture. Needless to say, it was another beautifully presented dish. Using black plates as his palate, the chef brings to life the various colors that you would otherwise lose on a standard white plate.
The forth course was a slow cooked pork shank, hand rolled gnocchi, Jons Farm arugula, soft egg, and black truffle. This was a hearty disk that was superbly composed. The gnocchi were fresh light and airy. One of the best that I had (even to my own.) Again, another dish I could have had more of, but now I was anticipating even grander dish with the next course. This chef was on the money. He knows, he understands about layers of flavor and texture. His dishes thus far were simple yet filled with so much flavor and freshness; I had to ask about whom their purveyors were.
I asked the waiter if I could speak with someone about where they get their food and produce. Within a matter of minutes, General Manager Matt Dinkel presented himself at my table to answer my questions. I knew this GM was the real deal. He had his hand on the pulse of everything. He told me that all the food and produce is from local growers and sources. They are brought in fresh daily. He stated, with great pride that Chef Jeremy Ford and his staff make everything in house.
As we continued to chat, the waiter brought the fifth course. It was time for seafood. The chef prepared roasted steelhead salmon with a fennel emulsion, a sour apple and celery salad with a grainy mustard sauce. The skin was crispy and the salmon done to exactly as it should be as a medium-rare. Again, the paring of the fennel against the sour apple and celery was inspirationally simple.
The chef added a sixth course with his perfectly charred Jackman ranch ribeye steak. There is nothing better for me than a ribeye steak. This steak was grilled to a tender and juicy medium rare. It was pared with a potato confit a simple cabernet jus. Again, this dish was simple and perfectly prepared.
For dessert the chef delivered a Florida grapefruit soup, coconut gelee and orange ice topped with fresh mint. The flavor combination in this dessert is that certain something that makes Chef Ford a true culinary artist.
I ended my multi-course meal with a small glass of port. There was not need for coffee, tea or espresso. The port was a fitting end to this wonderful meal.
So, now it was time to meet the man that made my culinary senses spin with delight. After meeting and speaking with this young chef and if I am any judge of chef talent, as I believe that I am, Jeremy Ford is going places. Not only could be a serious contender on “Top Chef” or “Next Iron Chef” or “Chopped,” because, like I said before, this boy can cook.
Moreover, he has changed my mind about hotel restaurants. Jeremy told that he is a part of a new breed of chefs that has entered into this new realm and changing that perception. They are producing wonderful menus and dazzling people like you and me with their culinary masterpieces. My quest now is find all those restaurants and chefs. Well…someone has to do it!