We’ve all had to adapt since the coronavirus outbreak. Restaurants are struggling to stay afloat and adapting as well. Even such upscale places as The Ocean Grill at the Setai in Miami Beach has adapted.
The outdoor dining destination, once only a lunch spot, recently began offering dinner nightly. Pivoting to take advantage of the magical location while restaurants are required to only seat diners outside, it has been renovated to expand the terrace. All COVID-19 protocols, including social distancing are observed. There are even pump bottles of hand sanitizer at each table.
The new evening menu is designed to transport guests to summer nights on the Italian Riviera, with several kinds of pasta, an expanded grill section and a selection of new starters and salads. And, while for the most part, the menu lives up to expectations. There are some discrepancies, it takes more than tossing some white linen tablecloths on patio furniture to make for an upscale dining experience.
And make no mistake, The Ocean Grill is shooting for upscale dining; with appetizers averaging around $25, entrées in the $35-$60 range (served a la carte, sides are an additional $10) and pasta dishes averaging $26, it might well be cheaper to take a trip to the Riviera instead. Service is attentive and polished (and masked and gloved), and the food is well-prepared. But the prices they’re charging are way too high for casual dining, which this still is.
We began our meal with a pair of starters, both perfectly prepared. I opted for the grilled octopus ($29), a true indication of the chef’s abilities. I was not disappointed the octopus was tender and moist, accompanied by fingerling potatoes, roasted tomatoes and a fava bean purée, it was exquisite in its simplicity. My hubby’s yellowfin tuna ($26) featured fresh raw sushi-grade fish tossed with haricot verts, preserved lemon, shallots, grated egg, and olive oil. With the success of these dishes we held high hopes for our entrées. Other starter options include a cheese and charcuterie plate, Panzanella salad with burrata, grilled artichokes, eggplant parmigiana and Caesar or seafood salad.
Making good use of the restaurant’s wood-burning grill, guests can choose from signature meat selections including New York strip, filet mignon or lamb chops; for those seeking something lighter, free-range chicken and freshly caught seafood are available, such as the Scottish salmon, Chilean sea bass and branzino available on the night of our visit.
My bone-in ribeye ($65) arrived cooked to the medium rare I ordered but lacked the hard sear that makes a good steak great. My husband’s prawns ($39) featured three large, head-on crustaceans, although two of them were a tad on the mushy side. We augmented our entrées with the creamy au gratin potatoes and tender sautéed spinach ($10 each). Grilled meat dishes come with a choice of sauces; chimichurri, beef jus, hollandaise, Vierge, peppercorn or salsa verde. I opted for the vierge, a mixture of minced veggies and capers, which augmented my steak perfectly. Pasta and pizza lovers can enjoy a light spaghetti Pomodoro or hearty prawn risotto or agnolotti with mozzarella and braised short ribs. Pizza options include a classic Margherita or one topped with truffles.
Specialty cocktails, all available by the glass ($16) or pitcher ($96), are perfect for al fresco quaffs and include a frozen bellini, passion fruit martini, mojito, and other more traditional libations. Setai coconuts, a refreshing beverage served in a branded coconut, are offered both non-alcoholic (with coconut water), or enhanced with liquor and watermelon or pineapple juice. A full selection of wines and champagnes is also available. Desserts include a Tartufo with cherry & pistachio ice cream, chocolate cake, and a “Fruits of the Forest” pavlova ($14 each), as well as a fruit plate ($18).
In addition to the a la carte menu, guests can select to enjoy a three-course prix-fixe Miami Spice menu through Sept. 30 for $39 per person. There is also a three-course summer lunch menu for $29. Parking is $17 with validation.
The Ocean Grill at The Setai
2001 Collins Ave, Miami Beach