It's official: Michael Schwartz, erstwhile of Nemo, Shoji Sushi, and Big Pink, has gone corporate. If you call the Rubells a corporation, that is. Schwartz has agreed to revamp Atlantic at the Beach House Bal Harbour. I'm doubly delighted. I've always liked Schwartz's laid-back culinary style, and I'm happy he's staying in South Florida, a position that seemed in jeopardy when he broke off the ten-year partnership with current Nemo owner Myles Chefetz. Plus, in addition to his admiring public, Schwartz and his wife will have a new mouth to feed in upcoming months, which means he'll probably be launching a third house vintage; currently he offers Cuvees Ella and Lulu, wines named for his daughters. As for Atlantic, that particular dining room now has the opportunity to fulfill its potential. Stay tuned to Dish to find out how.
Is it something in the water? Or something in the economy? Willis Loughhead, executive chef of Tantra, has given notice to proprietor Tim Hogle. He, too, has gone hotel-happy, signing on to be the chef at Bizcaya, the restaurant in the soon-to-be-launched Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove. Given the fact that Loughhead took the position after the menu was written and the kitchen staff trained -- hey, the restaurant is set to open September 20 -- it seems unlikely we're going to experience a full-on onslaught of Loughhead's signature creativity. At least not immediately. "It'll be a more gradual process," he says. "It's not exactly fair of me to come in and change everything at the last minute. But you'll recognize my touches." If you want more than a little caress, head up to New York City for Loughhead's debut James Beard dinner on September 26. Foreplay begins with amuse-bouches like sautéed quails' eggs in fresh hearts of palm with caviar, and complete seduction is guaranteed by main dishes such as white meat risotto of rabbit and lobster with sweet peas and pignoli nuts. Course, Loughhead's departure leaves an opportunity for other energetic chefs to vie for his erstwhile post. And as Hogle himself notes, all three of his former chefs -- Michael B. Jacobs, Michelle Bernstein, and now Loughhead -- have gone on to land dream jobs. Hogle dubs them his "rising stars," and you can bet with that kind of incentive the competition to work aphrodisiacal magic at Tantra will be fierce.
Here's a no-brainer: What happens when landlords on Lincoln Road get greedy and decide to raise rents to something ridiculous like $100 per square foot? The tenants leave. Joining SUVA and Javier's Mexican Cantina, Jeffrey's is the latest to rue the Road's popularity. After nine years, the owners shut down this local hangout, one of the last bastions for romance in the area. But fans of the signature Jeffrey's style have little reason to be concerned, given that the proprietors opened Magnum, a jazzy lounge and restaurant on 79th Street Causeway, a little over a year ago. Magnum is making good with gay culture, what with a piano bar and show tunes and attracting an older Joe Allen crowd with burgers and martinis. What could be better people-watching? And don't fret if the place looks closed from the outside -- that's the way it always appears. Entrance is via the back parking lot. Know also that Magnum is currently closed for vacation for a couple of weeks. But the owners have every intention of making like winged creatures to flypaper. In fact I hear they're going to try to buy the building so the Jeffrey's situation can't ever be repeated. Boys, not a bad idea.
So you think restaurant openings are exciting. Glamorous. Stocked with celebrities. You might reconsider at the ribbon-cutting to Jerry's Famous Deli on South Beach -- it takes place at 7:00 a.m., when no actual mortal looks or feels the least bit human. But while yours truly will be more likely doing something less fabulous, you can feel free to live vicariously. One celeb is scheduled to be on site: Cindy Margolis, the model who has the dubious honor of being the Internet's most downloaded figure. She's married to Jerry's Famous Deli CEO Guy Starkman. Now that's a virtual guarantee of some tasty pastrami.
Get the Dining Newsletter
The week's top local food news and events, plus interviews with chefs and restaurant owners, dining tips, and a peek at our print review.