It was past dusk in early November, and the windows at Big Pink -- South Beach's staple for late-night fare -- were covered with butcher paper. When we peaked through the open doors, we saw significant remodeling being done. Floors were gutted, the ceiling was in different stages of disarray, and dust covered the entire dining room.
"We closed for two weeks in November for renovations," says Joe Smith, a manager at the restaurant. "It was time. [Big Pink] has been the same since it first opened in 1996. Now we made some changes -- just to keep up with the times and update our offerings."
Good thing. Because, for a second, we thought the iconic hangover cure-all had closed. And then where would the drunken folks go for a dose of pricey, greasy -- and admittedly comforting -- 4 a.m. eats in this tony neighborhood?
The eatery is owned by SoFi's powerhouse restaurateur Myles Chefetz, who runs the Myles Restaurant Group. His empire spans south of Fifth Street: Prime One Twelve, Prime Italian, Shoji Sushi, and Big Pink.
On November 14, the late-night hub reopened with an updated look and a few changes to the menu. Mike Sabin, head chef of Prime One Twelve (and epicurean leader of the restaurant group) formulated a couple of menu additions, including chicken 'n' waffles, fish 'n' chips, penne alla vodka, chicken rigatoni, and eggs Benedict.
The restaurant also expanded its booze offerings. According to Smith, it went from serving just 15 beers and ten wine selections to 46 beers and 28 wines. (Everyone needs to throw back an extra cerveza when downing a churrasco wrap stuffed with fried plantains, black beans, and rice.)
And there's more. Now all desserts are made on the premises by an in-house pastry chef. Some of them -- such as carrot cake and fried Oreos -- use the same recipe as the treats offered at Prime One Twelve.
On our most recent visit, we sampled the chicken 'n' waffles ($15.95) and the eggs Benny ($12.95). The restaurant, which serves breakfast all day, did not succeed with its rendition of classic eggs Benedict. A sliced, toasted English muffin came topped with Canadian bacon, poached eggs, and a mediocre hollandaise.
Much more enjoyable were the chicken 'n' waffles. The tender, slightly sweet cakes were slathered with copious amounts of butter. Atop the indulgent iron-patterned waffle sat an oversize chunk of breaded and fried chicken breast, which was also quite enjoyable.
Less enjoyable were the judgmental glares from a few tourists seated nearby. Apparently, when two gals drench fried chicken in maple syrup and hot sauce on a Tuesday afternoon, it is a sight to be seen.
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SHOW ME HOW
What most locals already know is that, at Big Pink, it's just your regular, run-of-the-mill lunch.
Follow Emily on Twitter @EmilyCodik.