Executive chef Michael Gilligan is at the helm of the new kitchen at the landmark Rusty Pelican on the Rickenbacker Causeway. The $7 million in recent renovations include a tranquil feng shui fountain at the entrance, new décor throughout the two-story building, and a wine cellar that greets guests as they are expertly escorted to their dining tables.
"I'm going to include many products from the States in my dishes, and I'm sure clients will appreciate that," Gilligan says. "I'm currently at work creating a new straightforward American menu that mirrors the clean, modern look and vibe here."
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The Rusty Pelican offers guests a fantastic view of the Miami skyline and great food. There's a new bar and lounge with a broad selection of microbrews, wines by the glass and bottle, and signature cocktails served to patrons occupying comfy, low-slung couches indoors and on the bayfront patio.
Happy-hour specials (4 to 7 p.m. in the lounge area only) include the Rusty Slider ($5), prepared with plenty of crushed strawberries; the Garden Cooler, made with Grey Goose vodka, Prosecco, cucumbers, fresh lemon and basil, and a hint of honey; and the Strawberry Mule, prepared with Russian Standard vodka, fresh strawberries, lime juice, and ginger beer. They all have an undeniable kick that sneaks up on you.
Happy-hour light bites ($7 to $9) include avocado fries, fried calamari, lobster crudo, crabcakes, and foie gras and goat cheese empanadas. Dozens of additional, high-octane drinks are in the $11 price range. The waitstaff is attentive and efficient. The ambiance is friendly, and the view from almost anywhere in the restaurant is, well, priceless.