Cha Cha Rooster at the Lords South Beach is under new management yet again. But this just might be the best turnaround for the fun restaurant. There is a new French owner, a new French chef, a completely revamped menu, and a topnotch waitstaff. Owner Olivier Guichot-Perere emphasizes, "No, we are not a French restaurant, but the staff has been trained with French know-how."
Located downstairs at the Lords Hotel in the heart of SoBe, the space is vibrantly decorated and the menu is innovative and scrumptious.
Brian Gorman opened the Lords South Beach about a year ago and made it fun-tastic. The area's only hotel to cater almost exclusively to the gay community has become famous for its outrageous parties and refined environment. Now, Cha Cha Rooster offers patrons creative menu choices at decent prices.
Gorman selected the large-scale decorative photos on the walls. Black-and-white portraits of overly sun-drenched former residents are a reminder that not too long ago, the neighborhood housed a much older population. The artwork is also a reminder that everyone should wear sunscreen.
Step into the glittery, well-stocked bar a few steps down from the main lobby and you've entered the first part of your restaurant experience. Good drinks and quick menu plates are available. Another short flight of steps down and Cha Cha Rooster (on the pool level) awaits guests with some menu items that will delight the palate.
Guichot-Perere (who has worked with Jack Nicholson and says the actor was always kind and grateful to him and his staff) and his wife took over the restaurant a few months ago. They brought in Chef Thierry, who is rarely stationary and excited about making sure his culinary creations are followed to the letter. Guichot-Perere, also a chef, oversees the management of the place and flaunts his latest, not-yet-on-the-menu crème brûlée de foie gras creation, topped with caramelized brown sugar. Sounds like a strange pairing, but it's amazing.
We also tasted diver scallops, cut so thinly they were transparent, which allowed the citrus marinade infused with red crushed peppers to gently flavor the scallops. A fig-infused port-wine reduction sauce that covered quail lollipops draped over truffle risotto was a treat for the taste buds. It was wisely paired with a Sonoma Cutrer Pinot Noir. Keep in mind that the above dishes are specialties.
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The regular lunch and dinner menus are solid and affordable. Gazpacho is $8; steak tartare with a side of fries is $12. There are plenty of French dishes, such as artichaux vinaigrette for $11 and escargots a l'ail (snails cooked in parsley, butter, and garlic) $14. Because Guichot-Perere wants to keep the beach-friendly fare reasonably priced, expect burgers and sandwiches served with fries for $12. Half a crispy duck with seasonal fruit goes for $22, and an eight-ounce grilled filet mignon with a luscious béarnaise or poivre sauce is $26. Desserts include chocolate éclairs ($9) and Paris-Brest choux ($8).
In addition to lunch and dinner, there's also all-you-can-eat Sunday brunch, happy hour, catering, front porch seating, and poolside terrace dining.
Thierry and his staff want to make Cha Cha Rooster a welcoming place for Lords guests and other visitors to have a "magnifique" meal. So far, they're on the right track.