In a walkthrough of Corsair, celebrity chef Scott Conant's second Miami endeavor set to open in mid-December at Turnberry Isle, we learned quite a few things about the Chopped judge, Scarpetta owner, and father of two girls. For instance, he likes to curse. And he's a jokester. And in high school, his nickname was "Sexy Little Pancake." Just kidding! (Told you he's a jokester.)
He is, however, so "fucking excited about the pancakes" at Corsair. "They're just sexy," he gushes. The pancakes he's referring to are more like soufflés with chamomile cream. "We're taking the simple things like pancakes and elevating them."
Although still very much under construction, the massive space has taken shape enough to illustrate his vision. "It's so fucking gorgeous," he says before abruptly apologizing for being overly excited. Mediterranean-style blue-and-white geometric-tiled floors match the open kitchen's blue tiles and gray marble. Muted wooden walls provide a nice contrast and give the light and open interior a rustic feel. Floor-to-ceiling windows overlook the Miller Golf Course, and a gargantuan waterfall (being renovated and restored in time for the opening) will provide tranquility to guests dining indoors or on the terrace.
The restaurant will feature several areas -- a lounge and waiting area equipped with a wine wall, a bar furnished with high-tops and TVs screens, a dining room with banquettes, and a sturdy rustic center table that will act as a buffet station during the day and a service station at night. There's even a private dining room. "In every one of my restaurants, there's some sort of functional wine element on a wall to create a warm glow."
Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Corsair is different from many of Conant's other concepts, but the restaurateur is up for the challenge. The food, he says, will reflect a mélange of influences from France, Italy, and Spain, with a focus on American-farmhouse and easy-to-love flavors. "Easy to love, just like Scott Conant." Think more casual than Scarpetta but still elevated. "The idea of every restaurant I do is not to do groundbreaking stuff but more about being thoughtful, from food component to the atmosphere and definitely the service."
A menu with myriad sandwiches is perfect for those coming off the course and looking for a place to relax and chill by the bar. Corsair will make bread in-house. "I do this sandwich. It's a Northeast coast-style roasted porchetta sandwich with fried egg broccoli rabe pesto."
As far as differentiating the breakfast and dinner experience for guests, the menu will offer unique items during every meal period. "Every hotel has this problem. The idea is to be more fluid and nimble." Think polenta waffles with muddled berries for breakfast, raw market vegetable salad with truffled Pecorino for lunch, and smoked beet agnolotti with pink peppercorns for dinner. Some sort of tableside dinner service will also be available. "The Fontainebleau fish program is really special and unique, so we're speaking to Chef Thomas about parlaying some products for here and presenting tableside," he dishes. Price points for the menu are still being worked out, but Conant assures they'll be approachable.
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Another thing Conant is superexcited about is the bar program, headed by Rob Floyd, who developed the bar program for José Andrés and the Bazaar in Los Angeles during its inception. "He's an insanely talented guy. We're not going to be doing liquid nitrogen or any of that stuff, but he can make a cocktail the proper way." Expect aged cocktails and nonalcoholic drinks such as Arnold Palmers chilled with ice cubes using iced tea and lemonade. "Being on a golf course, a lot of people drink Arnold Palmers. Personally, I enjoy drinking a lot." Conant's go-to spirits? Casa Dragones and Macallan 18 or 25 year. As for a proper cocktail: "I love a good Manhattan with a proper ice cube or a great negroni."
Cheers to that and the opening of Corsair come December.
Follow Carla on Twitter @ohcarlucha