Side Dish

Big Fish, new owner

Trading one landmark for another, the Clevelander's Kent Karpawich sold the hotel, built in 1938, to Herb Meistrich and his San Diego-based company, and bought into the 1800 Club a few months ago. Now called the 1800 Bar and Grill, the eatery has regained some of its supper-club glamour. Karpawich and partner Jason DeCastro "cleaned 44 years' worth of aging off the mahogany walls and ceiling," DeCastro says diplomatically. Although the building is still owned by the club's original proprietor, William Ader, Sr., the former members-only watering hole opened to the public about five years ago, and despite what DeCastro calls "a loyal following," the business has changed hands several times since. Offering standard American fare and happy-hour drink specials, Karpawich and DeCastro hope their digits will be the last to grab on to this treasured North Bayshore Drive jewel.

•Quirky riverfront restaurant Big Fish Mayaimi will continue its long and colorful history without owners Montse Guillen and artist Antoni Miralda: The pair sold it two weeks ago. New restaurateur Dino Bottiglieri will have the place, currently under renovation, ready for business in a couple of weeks. Bottiglieri, who owned an eatery in Milan, continues the Fish's European conversion -- former husband-and-wife proprietors Guillen and Miralda came from Barcelona. Only time will tell whether getting further from its all-American roots (once upon a time the Big Fish site, fronting the Miami River, was a Native American burial ground, then a gas station) will do the Fish any good. One thing we can readily assume: No matter what he does with the décor and the menu, there's no way Bottiglieri can top Miralda's gondola-cum-stiletto sculpture or his tongue-shaped menus.

•Last Friday was French darling Pascal Oudin's final day as executive chef at Sweet Donna's Country Store & Restaurant.While he won't be working on the floor anymore, he says he "made a commitment to Brad [Weiser] to stay on as consultant." "This is not a divorce. Brad is a great guy. Maybe I'll do something else with him." Meanwhile Oudin is off to Los Angeles to party for a few days before returning to Miami to contemplate his next step. One option he's not considering: giving up control of his line of salad dressings and sauces. "I've got twenty things I could do," he admits. That's fine with me -- long as leaving the area ain't one of 'em.

•Kvetch:What's with all these events celebrating not the fruit but the juice of the vine? There was that Kendall-Jackson bash at Norman's two weeks ago; the Tenuta Caparzo dinner at Bice and the Wines from Spain reception at the Biltmore last week; and a Bordeaux tasting at the Biltmore, along with a smorgasbord of vintnersat Baleen this week. Next week's wine luncheons and dinners include connoisseur Dr. David Bruce's comparative pinot noir tasting at Ortanique on the Mile, Beaulieu Vineyard's presentation at Baleen, a Generation-X wine shindig at Wish, and a Möet & Chandon pouring at Bice. My tolerance hasn't been so high (or my ulcer so active) since I was in college.

Send your tasty tidbits to Jen Karetnick at 2800 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33137. Or e-mail kavetchnik@aol.com

 
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