Michael Mina's new restaurant,Michael Mina 74
at theFontainebleau Miami Beach
, opened in time for the crush of people flocking to Art Basel.
The new restaurant, bar, ultra-lounge is a departure from his classic and reserved Bourbon Steak at Turnberry Isle Resort & Club. But, as the chef and restaurateur tells Short Order, though the two concepts are as different as the resorts they're in, they both serve high-quality chef-driven food -- and duck fat fries!
See also: Michael Mina 74 to Open at Fontainebleau
New Times: Tell us about Michael Mina 74.
Michael Mina: First of all, it's really exciting being at the Fontainebleau and Miami Beach. When you conceptualize a restaurant, you really take into consideration the vibe of the location. And Miami Beach, epecially the lobby of the Fontainebleau is so vibrant. So, my challenge was how do we bring something new and fresh and still be part of the energy that's already created? When you come into 74, you'll get that. It's a very modern-day chic design that feels like it could be a supper club in a city. The space has these low ceilings, so it turned out to be like a little jewel box.
How do you create a menu to work with a certain space?
Like I said, the space has a good vibe and music and that matches well with my style of food. I love to cook bold flavored food that still has a lot of balance. I took a lot of inspiration from Miami itself. It's a global city, so there are many influences. The menu is fairly large, but there's accessibility to it. Hopefully you'll get a wow factor when you order the potato crusted pompano, but it breaks down to potatoes and fish. We've also done some whimsical plays on classics like having jerk quail instead of chicken.
Can you tell us about the cocktail program?
The cocktail program is quite interesting. We have four different punches on tap and we're bottling and carbonating our own cocktails. It's really beautiful. It's all about quality of product.
What else is new?
At many restaurants you can get a good raw bar platter. But here, we've put together these beautiful carts that come to every table. You can pick your shellfish right there -- maybe a few of each, maybe an entire tower. There's nothing better than starting out your meal with fresh seafood. Especially when you have stone crabs. They're just amazing. Every time I come to Miami, I fell like I just eat stone crabs.
What's the difference between Bourbon Steak and Michael Mina 74?
The easiest way to describe that is to ask how do these two properties differ from each other? But both are premium properties with so much history. My job is to embrace the differences and cater to the clientele that comes to each hotel. But you will find the same whimsicalness in both restaurants.
And duck fat fries?
We're not doing a trio here, but duck fat fries come with the burger And it's the best burger you'll ever have in your life.
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What would you say are the differences between East Coast and West Coast appetites?
The differences used to be more defined years back. I'd say that West Coast was more of that California-rustic, farm-to-table and East coast was more French-driven classic "cheffier" fare. But those times have changed. The country has become so product driven and regional. It's about what's available to you and the taste profiles of the people you're cooking for. In Miami, I find diners want really bold-flavored food with a lot of acid, sweetness, or spice. That, and what's locally available, are the things that drive the menu.