If there's one thing I learned during my walk-through of the now-open Corsair at Turnberry Isle Resort & Spa, it's that when Scott Conant asks if you're hungry, you say yes (even if you've just eaten a full plate of paella). And then, when he makes you short rib lasagna with Taleggio fonduta and freshly shaved black truffles, you eat all of it. Mainly because, well, it's the only chance you may get in your life to eat something so extraordinarily delectable.
The Scarpetta owner, Chopped judge, and all-around charmer will be spending much more time in Miami now that he has two restaurants here. Corsair, an American-farmhouse-style, Mediterranean-influenced casual eatery perched on the golf course at Turnberry is, like Scarpetta, a stunner. Also like Scarpetta, Corsair is all about the food. After eating two dishes prior to its quiet opening Saturday evening, I am thoroughly impressed.
The space, designed by Meyer Davis Studio (the same guy responsible for the look of Lure and the Dutch), is breathtaking. Perhaps it's the inescapable view of the refaced waterfall at the entrance or the glowing wine cellar, a trait in all of Conant's restaurants.
The geometric Mediterranean floor tile and gorgeous marble-clad open kitchen lets you have a peek at all the action -- like Conant shaving black truffles onto pasta and chatting with former Scarpetta chef de cuisine Michael Pirolo, who came to help out his old boss. "Nina [Compton] was here earlier this week," Conant says. "It's like getting the band back together. They know me so well, and it's so great to have the support of old friends."
Conant was making menu changes until the very last minute. "It's what I do." Another thing he does is burn a giant shrub of sage to christen the space and rid it of all prior bad juju. "After we're done, we smoke it," he jokes (maybe).
Corsair serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Breakfast items include polenta waffles with muddled berries, ricotta, and lemon pancakes with chamomile-scented cream, and poached eggs with brioche and truffled fonduta.
Lunch gets even more interesting with appetizers like oysters with barrel-aged mignonette. Other items on the lunch menu include spiced butternut squash soup with burrata froth ($14), a porchetta sandwich with broccoli rabe pesto and a sunny-side-up egg ($17), and beet and smoked ricotta agnolotti with poppy seeds ($22).
For dinner, appetizers include scallop crudo in blood orange served with pickled hot peppers ($18), and roasted clams with chorizo and fingerling potatoes ($18). Among the pasta dishes are ricotta cavatelli with goat ragu, smoked curd, and Swiss chard ($14 for half portion, $25 for full serving); seafood ravioli with sauce Americane ($29); and tagliolini with sweetbreads and pea shoots.
As far as entrées go, Conant predicts the porcini-braised veal with fregola, baby turnips, and crisp Parmesan ($34) will be the signature at Corsair, just as the spaghetti and basil is at Scarpetta. "Veal braised in porcini mushrooms. I mean, c'mon, who's doing that?"
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The veal was in fact delicious, but it's the short rib lasagna ($56) that stole my heart and will motivate me to drive 40 minutes from midtown to Aventura to dine at Corsair. Drenched in Taleggio fonduta and with plenty of black truffle shavings, as well as some gorgeous winter vegetables, it's cheesy, rich, meaty, gooey, earthy, and doughy -- an edible paradox, if you will.
Corsair by Scott Conant is open seven days a week, including holidays, for breakfast from 7 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Monday through Sunday; lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday; dinner from 6 to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 6 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; brunch from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday; and happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Follow Carla on Twitter @ohcarlucha