The Ocean Grill
Where: The Setai, Miami Beach; 2001 Collins Ave.
[image_with_text image=”29120″]Under the stars: Though it’s been a summer of discontent for many restaurants in Miami-Dade County, desperate for traction amid the COVID-19 pandemic’s slippery ebbs and flows, there are some encouraging signs. One such headline arrived in mid-August, when the Setai announced that its beachfront venue, The Ocean Grill, would debut nightly seating (and a new dinner menu) to go with lunchtime service of its Italian-inspired cuisine.[/image_with_text][image_with_text image=”29121″]
The backdrop: Perched on a deck that’s surrounded by a sea of tropical foliage and palms—and kept comfortable by cool, misted air that gently mixes with the ocean breeze—the Grill has destination dining written all over it. And not just because of the seaside backdrop. Vijayudu Veena, executive chef at The Setai and a veteran of the resort for more than a decade, has worked with chef Scott Brown and the kitchen team to develop a light, refreshing and thoughtfully curated spin on what can be a hearty category.
Sights to behold: Presentation dazzles throughout the abbreviated menu, beginning with an array of artfully plated salads and healthy starters. Salmon tartar is encircled by grated boiled eggs, capers, red onions and cornichons, with dollops of crème fraiche and caviar for good measure. The chilled seafood salad, a satisfying meal unto itself, mixes scallops, shrimp, calamari and octopus with zest of lemon and extra virgin olive oil. Burrata comes with locally sourced vine-ripe tomatoes and balsamic reduction.
The main event: Veena describes the Grill’s wood barbecue as giving the fresh catch and meat selections the benefits of a delicate broiling effect along with smoky flavoring. Those benefits come to life in Chilean sea bass that literally melts in the mouth, or lamb chops cooked to perfection. Other selections include whole branzino, Scottish salmon, filet mignon and free-range organic half chicken. The sauces (think chimichurri and peppercorn) that accompany the wood-grilled entrees are not to be missed; the salsa verde sauce (a blend of roasted tomatillos, jalapenos, lime juice and cilantro) elevates the sea bass without detracting from the preparation.
Usual suspects: No Italian restaurant would be complete without a few pasta and pizza offerings. The Grill delivers only a trio of pasta dishes—agnolotti (stuffed pasta with braised short ribs), spaghetti pomodoro, and an exquisite house-made tortellini with roasted cauliflower puree, fresh wild mushrooms and Parmesan; it’s one of Veena’s favorite dishes on the menu. The truffle pizza, meanwhile, melts robiola and mascarpone cheeses on a thin crust with fresh truffle shavings and chives. It’s one more example of a menu that never overwhelms, but always satisfies.
Did You Know?
- The Ocean Grill is the outdoor complement to the Setai’s popular Pan-Asian venue, Jaya.
- Veena, a native of India known as ”Chef Vijay,” earned his culinary stripes during international stops in Switzerland (the Lausanne Palace and Spa) and Mumbai (JW Marriott).
- Desserts are mostly consistent with the light, Mediterranean vibe at the Ocean Grill, including sorbet, tiramisu, and limoncello semifreddo with raspberry yogurt, torched meringue and fresh raspberries.