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Blogger's Bout: STK's Decor

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The much-hyped STK took forever to open its doors; about a year longer than expected, actually. Despite the numerous delays, everyone has been buzzing about the upscale steakhouse-cum-lounge. With sister locations in New York and Vegas, STK developed quite a reputation in Miami. Adding to the excitement is the fact that of-the-moment design firm ICRAVE designed the space. So, now that STK has finally debuted, is it worth the buildup? Is the design as cutting-edge as the owners would have you believe? Below, two of Short Order's bloggers weigh in on both sides. Seems Jacquelynn D. Power's a fan. Riki Altman? Not so much.

Jacquelynn's P.O.V.:
I am loving the visual starkness of South Beach's latest restaurant, STK. Located in the Gansevoort South Hotel, STK eschews the usual SoBe design gimmicks of flowing white curtains, oversized furniture and other whimsical touches. Instead, the lofty, two-story space feels like a renovated warehouse; like something you might find in New York's trendy Meatpacking District.

STK is sleek, modern and industrial; right down the to fact that the entrance is subtly hidden behind darkened doors. Once inside, guests are greeted by a simple hostess stand, and ushered into one of two bars. A lounge in the middle of the dining room is adorned with sexy, teardrop-shaped couches for mingling and people watching. The main dining room features white leather banquettes set against a backdrop of a white exposed brick wall.

The color scheme sticks with austere grays, browns, blacks and whites. There is nary a pastel in sight. Yet, the resulting effect is not dreary. It's grownup and contemporary. Powerhouse design firm ICRAVE's décor also allows the cuisine to be the star at STK, where porterhouses and big eye tuna reign supreme.

One nod to South Beach's scene-and-be-seen culture is the upstairs catwalk, spanning the length of the bar, where stylish patrons can show off their Louboutins and Chanel finery. The great-looking clientele (and staff) only enhances the muted design scheme. In STK, South Beach has an edgy eatery; that is until the copycats inevitably replicate this warehouse-chic look at an alarming rate.

Riki's P.O.V.:
Hours before I attended STK's first opening party, hosted by Esquire, I was told, "You are going to freak over how gorgeous that place is!" So I'll admit, I had high expectations. But when my friend and I walked in (after being bullied by a bouncer with a G-d complex), we weren't wowed.

Granted, the place wasn't set up for dining, so perhaps seeing tables done up with linens and cutlery would've made a difference, but I was underwhelmed. I found no interesting focal point(s), like the flying wooden butterflies at Jaguar or the spiral staircase and shadowy face fashioned in Guatemalan coins at Michael's Genuine. Just lots of squares. Square windows, squared-off balconies, squared off columns... Yes the bi-level space was massive and yes, there were little eye-catchers throughout (see my photo of the gal surrounded by hands and arms, for example), and the marble columns were quite substantial, soaring up to the ceiling, but I don't see this spot becoming an Architectural Digest centerfold anytime soon.

Though the New York City STK looks a bit glam from its online photos, Miami's was reminiscent of a poorly rehabbed nightclub: all mirrors and glass. And, as is typical in so many local hotspots, the VIP room is only "special" because it is set away from all the action -- not because it is particularly stunning.

I can't help wondering if the DJs at STK plan to blast music so loud it will make more than one server mistakenly hear "medium-well" instead of "medium-rare." I can forgive boring design. But I will have difficulty pardoning the poor fool who delivers me an overcooked hunk of meat.

-- Jacquelynn D. Powers & Riki Altman

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