Gasping is optional upon entering the expansive space of The Four Seasons Hotel at The Surf Club’s restaurant Le Sirenuse (9101 Collins Avenue), and the Eater Miami winner for most gorgeous restaurant of 2017. The restaurant, which once served as the ballroom of The Surf Club created by tire tycoon Harvey Firestone in 1930, was recently transformed into Le Sirenuse, the sister eatery of Michelin-star eatery La Sponda, housed inside the acclaimed Le Sirenuse hotel in Italy’s Amalfi coast.
Miami’s renowned beaches and inviting warm weather has always been a coveted getaway for the rich and famous, and when The Surf Club first opened, it quickly became a lavish and extravagant playground for the elite where anything and everything happened.
“Any excuse to party, they would have an elaborate event,” a spokesperson for the hotel explains. Archive photos show the over-the-top celebrations that would put today’s festivities to shame: elephants, flame-throwers, and kayaks in the pools were among the offerings. There was also plenty of drinking, particularly during the Prohibition Era when alcohol was only allowed in the privacy of one’s home.
“They created these cabanas that had their own addresses and anyone who could afford it could come here and drink and be social; that would be their home.”
It’s no surprise that The Surf Club became the “it” place, with people like Winston Churchill, Frank Sinatra, and Elizabeth Taylor becoming regular fixtures in its heyday. Now, nearly 90 years since its creation, it is seeing a revival with La Sirenuse Restaurant and Champagne Bar, which opened a little over a year ago.
“It’s the original structure but almost everything has been completely restored to match. We wanted to keep as much of the history as we could.”
Paris-based interior decorator Joseph Dirand designed the space in a Mediterranean revival style, bringing forth elegance, old-world grandeur, and a hint of modern touches. To enter the restaurant, guests must pass through Peacock Alley, the cinematic arched entry A-listers walked through on the way to their cabanas. Now flanked with vintage photographs, the Instagram-worthy space serves as a tribute to the Surf Club’s illustrious past. The restaurant is awash in a soothing palate of blues and sea glass green with gold accents and verdant tropical plants everywhere, all of which seamlessly harmonize with the ocean blue a stone throw away.
“It’s a place where people can still come and be social but it is still leisured — we don’t have huge parties like they used to, but we do still keep that same sense of service,” the spokesperson assures.
The food is elegant and straight-forward. Chef Antonio Mermolia offers dishes featured in La Sponda like L’insalata Verde (crystallized seasonal greens with lemon sorbet dressing), Battuto di Scampi (langoustine tartare with fennel, orange zest, and Peranzana olives), and Raviolo Caprese (ravioli stuffed with house-made buffalo ricotta, grape tomato sauce, and a Grana Padano reduction. Desserts are almost-too pretty to eat, like the Giardino Del Bronte, which aptly translates to “The Garden of Bronte,” made with creamy pistachio gelato that is covered in chilled pistachio crumbs that is then topped with herbs and flowers.
Of course, there is also The Champagne Bar, which prides itself in having its own separate identity.
Bartenders donning white jackets prepare cocktails in Venetian glasses hand-made by Carlo Moretti. The Champagne Bar features Miami’s largest selection of champagnes and aims on becoming one of the top champagne bars in the world. They offer a separate menu that includes oysters, a caviar selection and small bites such as seafood tempura with lemon aioli and tomato powder, tuna tataki on a toasted brioche with olive pâté.
Le Sirenuse places emphasis on the Italian philosophy of sprezzatura, which translates to “studied carelessness” or “effortless ease.” Both the restaurant and the Champagne bar offers just that: harmonious relaxation flanked by fine dining and drinks.
“We want to bring a new era of elegance back into Miami. We are not based in South Beach, we’re based up in North beach located in Surfside. We are our own little oasis.”