Restaurant & Lounge (recently praised by award-winning food critic Lee Klein
) on the 16th floor of Downtown Miami's sexy Epic
Hotel specializes in seafood fare from Fishing Area 31, which
encompasses marine waters off the Florida coast, Central America, and
parts of South America. The restaurant offers an iconic view of Miami
including a one-of-a-kind sightline straight down Brickell Boulevard
into the lights of the city. The dining experience is balanced between
indoor and outdoor and can include a private dining room (see above) infinity-poolside casitas, cabanas, and balcony couches. Area 31 takes you out of the hustle and bustle of the streets of Miami and places you in a light-breeze-infused loungey tranquility. Now, let's go behind the line with Executive Chef John Critchley.
Chef John Critchley hails from Boston, where he worked with a celebrity chef before moving into the world of hotel cuisine. He's now in charge of all the food for Area 31 Restaurant, room service for 411 hotel rooms, 370 residences, the lobby wine bar, the club level lounge, a "river lounge," private banquet rooms that can accommodate hundreds of guests -- basically anything to do with food anywhere in the hotel. He has also been a private chef for a residence on Fisher Island and recently spent eight months on a boat in the Northeast harvesting oysters.
Critchley emphasizes the importance of assembling good team members who know their jobs and more important know how to work together. They make their pasta in-house every day, get their fish fresh daily, and maintain eco-friendly standards like recycled glass plates and moving away from linens.Restaurant Operations Manager Pamela Andrews (pictured above) makes sure the floor runs smoothly and does paperwork to ensure that everything functions properly.
Pantry Cook Emily Edwards is pictured doing research and development for new menu items
The crew includes line cooks Wendell Ordonez, Sylvester Smith, Hannah Dunbar, and Abdul Rahman.
Patrick Raphael, called himself "food runner extraordinaire," and said, "I see all types of food I've never seen before. I'm a runner; we just move the food. It's all about timing."
Room service attendant
The oysters pictured above are of the Island Creek variety from Duxbury, Massachusetts.
Pictured above is the Frito Misto, lightly fried mixed seafood, olives and, lemon. A simple plate with great flavors and textures.
Pictured above are drinking-and-dining guests Enrique Lucenca and Marcella Lira. Marcella had a bloody mary she described as "Fantastic!" Enrique said, "I love this place. You see the view and the environment and the chic. I've been here since they opened. The food and the people are what keeps me coming back."
The bar has a daily happy hour from 5 to 7 p.m. with $5 drinks like the signature Epic Sunset, which is made with Belvedere Pomerancza, Grand Marnier, Campari, and passion fruit in a martini glass.