This is The Gatekeepers, in which Eater roams the city meeting the fine ladies and gentlemen that stand between you and some of New York's hottest tables.
With the likes of Sinatra and the rest of The Rat Pack once reveling in a few martinis at the hotel, Eden Roc on Miami Beach packs some history. 1500°, the hotel's 'farm-to-table' steakhouse, has garnered some notoriety of its own, being named Florida's only representative on Esquire's Best New Restaurants 2011. Eater recently chatted with Eden Roc Director of Restaurants Daniel Zink about the scene at 1500° right now.
It’s 8:30 p.m. on a Saturday night, What’s the wait for a table?
We can usually get you a table within 30 minutes. We try to save some tables for local guests and hotel guests that did not make reservations. While you wait, you can have a great cocktail at our lobby bar. This is a bar where the Rat Pack and Lucille Ball used to imbibe, and it looks suspiciously like the lobby of the Miramar Playa in Magic City.
Is there anything I can do to make my wait shorter? Gifts or cash?
A reservation always reduces the wait to virtually no wait, and we encourage you to make one. As for gifts or cash, we don't take those... ever! A smile and kind word to our hard working hostess staff has been known to reduce the wait, though. Also, our bar serves our full menu. There is usually no wait at the bar and our bartenders can provide quite a bit of entertainment.
What is the wait like earlier in the night?
Before 7:00pm, we can usually get you in immediately. Again, a short wait gives you an opportunity to tour the rest of this historic hotel.
Tell us about your favorite customers?
We love guests that put their experience in our hands by ordering our tasting menu. It says it's a five course meal, but usually ends up being 6 or 7 courses. We love to share our passion for the most local ingredients we can find with our guests. I, personally, love the guests that order some of our unique wines. I've been known to come into work on my day off just to meet the person that ordered one of the unique bottles I put on the list.
Are there a lot of regulars?
Though we are a restaurant tucked away in the Eden Roc, more than 70% of our reservations come from outside the hotel. In the 18 months that we've been open, we've built quite a roster of local regulars.
Who are the most exciting celebrities that have come in?
A gentleman never kisses and tells. We have had a lot of celebrities at 1500°. They tend to come in for private dinners on weekdays and some have become regulars. We'd like to keep them coming in, so mum's the word.
Say a celebrity walks in and the place is packed. What do you do with said celebrity?
Everyone has to wait their turn! As we would for anyone, we'll do our best to get them seated as soon as possible. I usually walk them over to our lobby bar and buy them a drink while they wait.
What’s the strangest request that you’ve been asked to accommodate?
Our hostess got a call once from a gentleman asking if he could bring his falcon to the restaurant. He said he was a falconer and needed a place for his falcon while he dined. Our hostess figured out a way to tell the guest we could accommodate him in our outdoor seating area, and he could keep his falcon in the tree on our patio. It turned out that this request was part of a test that we were given by the editorial team at Esquire Magazine while they were vetting us to be included in the 20 Best New Restaurants of 2011. The falconer never came, but we did win the award!
How did you get involved with 1500°?
Prior to 1500°, I was working with Iron Chef Jose Garces at Mercat a la Planxa in Chicago. I met the 1500° crew at the National Restaurant Association trade show in Chicago. A week later, I flew to Miami and had the best dinner I have ever had (and I have run Michelin starred restaurants). Two weeks later, I was working in Miami at 1500°! When I started at Mercat, Jose was not yet an Iron Chef, but I knew his cuisine was special. I saw the same potential in Paula DaSilva's cooking and was excited to get involved. (The prospect of an 80 degree winter made the decision even easier.)
When you’re not at 1500, where are you eating?
My last restaurant was a Catalan restaurant in Chicago. I miss Spanish food,and you can find me at 100 Montaditos fairly regularly. It's not the fanciest place, but I love salmorejo, Spanish Tortillas and Jamon Serrano. Also, everything is a buck on Wednesdays (including beers)!
What would you say is the most challenging thing to manage at 1500?
At 1500 Degrees, we are extremely proud of our cuisine and our beverage program. We love our local guests, and they are our backbone. Sometimes the Eden Roc is packed with as many as 2000 guests. It truly breaks our heart when everyone who wants to dine here, can't. I guess it's a good problem to have, but making sure we can accommodate all of the people that want to dine with us is what keeps me up at night!