Inside North Beach's Hilton Cabana & L'Echon Brasserie

 

Hilton introduces an oceanfront hotel in North Beach with the beachgoer and the epicurious traveler in mind

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By Shayne Benowitz | shayne@shaynebenowitz.com

It may seem like an odd pairing at first—one of Miami’s top indie restaurant groups partnering with one of the world’s largest hotel chains. You might picture the former better suited to a hip boutique hotel while foodie expectations at the latter often center around a free breakfast buffet. But there’s more to the story at North Beach’s new Hilton Cabana Miami Beach (6261 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-527-7176) where Pubbelly Group has opened L’Echon Brasserie.

The latest in a string of successful restaurant concepts by the group, L’Echon brings modern French bistro fare to hotel guests and locals inside its 150 seat restaurant and patio. This is also the group’s first foray into hospitality as they manage all aspects of the hotel’s food and beverage program from in-room dining to frozen drinks at the pool bar.

“My father was actually executive chef at the Caribe Hilton in Puerto Rico back in the ‘70s,” says Andreas Schreiner, Founding Partner and Managing Director of Pubbelly Group. No stranger to hospitality himself, Schreiner’s previous F & B stints include roles with Hyatt Corporation, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Casa Tua Hotel and Restaurant and Chicago’s The Elysian Hotel. “I approached this project with the goal of showing Miami you can do an independent restaurant without it feeling ‘hotely,’” he adds.

While the Hilton Cabana’s lobby can definitely be described as “hotely” (MiMo architectural flourishes, high ceilings, sparkly terrazzo floors, a mostly primary color palette and larger than life vintage bathing beauty photographs), as soon as the hostess at L’Echon greets you and whisks you to your table, the environment shifts into a warmer, homier aesthetic that’s purely Pubbelly. In fact, it’s the gilded pig statue dressed as maitre d’ at the entrance bearing a “Bienvenue a L’Echon Brasserie” chalkboard that signals you’re entering whimsical territory.

With an exposed kitchen, burnt orange leather chairs, black tufted banquette seating, butcher block tables, polished dark wood floors and red and white check napkins, L’Echon achieves a modern Miami brasserie feel. Barely a month after opening, the service is confident and knowledgeable and (as we’ve come to expect from Pubbelly) the kitchen has zero learning curve when it comes to executing creative and delicious dishes with superior attention to detail.

Brasserie classics like soupe d’oignon gratinee, escargots de Bourgogne and steak frites are represented, as well as Pubbelly signature dishes like pan con tomate, ceviche du jour and a Maine lobster roll. While L’Echon also has patio seating, there’s a separate menu at the poolside restaurant serving more traditional, yet no less ambitious cabana fare, such as buffalo wings, a turkey club and quesadillas with Oaxaca cheese and avocado mousse. Cocktails range from frozen mojitos to a gin and tonic with grapefruit and basil.

For hotel guests, the restaurant isn’t the only “out of the box” element at Hilton Cabana (where L’Echon does indeed serve a breakfast buffet to keep with the brand’s standard). The newly constructed Cabana Tower was designed to create a beach friendly experience for guests. The six-story building features rooms designed with tile floors, modern amenities and easy access to the elevated third floor pool with private cabanas.

The 231-room property (inclusive of 12 suites) also has the 10-story Allison Tower whose name is a nod to the original hotel. “We wanted it to be a little different from your typical Hilton,” says Katia Stopello, Director of Sales and Marketing at the hotel.

This is a trend we’ve seen in the last year on Miami Beach with Marriott Hotels. The Marriott Stanton South Beach in SoFi and the Courtyard Cadillac Miami Beach both changed their names to reflect the properties’ Art Deco origins and they redesigned guest rooms with a contemporary Miami aesthetic and updated features to appeal to the modern traveler.

The Hilton Cabana’s rooms are decidedly contemporary (and brand spanking new) with a beach house feel owing to a mostly white and cream color palette with orange striped accents, natural wood furniture and deep-back, loungy sofas. The bathrooms sparkle in white tile with a modern glass shower door, a strip of orange accent tiles and a sink atop a white, wooden, bureau-style stand with legs.

The oceanfront hotel features two pools, a small 24-hour fitness facility and the Allison Bar in the lobby’s courtyard. With room rates for a weekend stay in mid-August starting at $199/night and the ability for Hilton HHonors members to earn and redeem points on their stay, the Hilton Cabana makes for an ideal and affordable Miami Beach retreat with plenty of local flavor from the salt sea breeze to L’Echon’s epicurean delights.

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