It’s been almost six years since the Rusty Pelican, Key Biscayne’s sunset-viewing happy-hour hangout, completed its $7 million renovation.
Now the iconic restaurant has introduced an extensive collection of wines, as well as a revised menu to go with the unbeatable view.
"Our goal was to elevate the wine program and make it world-class, with a selection ideal for pairings. There needed to be a cohesive menu that tied the food and wine selection together, because the market demands an exceptional wine program to match the cuisine," says Pallava Goenka, regional managing director for Specialty Restaurants Corporation, which operates the Rusty Pelican.
The new program includes 38 wines by the glass, allowing diners the option of sampling the wide variety. The restaurant has also debuted the "Coravin Captain's List," which offers rare wines in limited supply that are rotated on a regular basis.
Master sommelier Michael Jordan is the expert behind the restaurant’s wine makeover. One of only 15 people in the world to hold both a master sommelier diploma from the Court of Master Sommeliers and a certified wine educator diploma from the Society of Wine Educators, Jordan handpicked more than 300 bottles, all of which are on display in a glass cube cellar at the restaurant’s entrance.
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To pair with Jordan’s selections, executive chef Jimmy Pastor has created items such as the King Caesar oyster duo, with passionfruit, Fresno peppers, crispy buttermilk, and coriander ($16); braised boar shank accompanied by rosemary rainbow potatoes and a port-and-cherry gastrique ($20); and sea bass crudo topped with smoked coconut vinaigrette and bacon ($21). Other newcomers are prime beef tartare layered with foie gras, a quail egg, and black garlic ($22); chilled crab salad with fennel, orange, cucumber, and tarragon vinaigrette ($18); and crusted lamb rack with boniato, minty pea purée, and exotic mushrooms ($42).
"The culinary program was already strong. When we decided to enhance the wine program, it pushed the chef to refine the food to complement some of the new wines," Goenka adds.
The Rusty Pelican recently hosted a two-day Court of Master Sommelier Level 1 course led by Jordan, where 13 staff members successfully passed the challenging exam. Some are now continuing with Level 2 training.
"It is our hope that this knowledge will provide added value to the overall dining experience with excellent customer service and attention to detail."