2 stars for "cartoonish" entrees & over the top desserts at Serendipity 3 on South Beach

SAVE ROOM FOR DESSERT: Customers lunch at outdoor tables at Serendipity 3 on Lincoln Road.MARICE COHN BAND/MIAMI HERALD STAFF

Nobody goes to Serendipity 3 for real food, do they? The cartoonish dishes on the menu — monster meatballs and spaghetti, triple decker grilled cheese sandwiches, dinosaur-sized beef ribs — are merely a warm-up for the main course: dessert.

In the over-the-top frozen food area, this South Beach outpost of the New York icon does not disappoint. Who has room for a hot dog as long as your arm topped with chili? We do. While there are salmon and salad nods to the celery-sucking South Beach bikini crowd, most of the menu appears to have been written by Paula Deen, pre-diabetes. Serendipity is for the young and young at heart — before their first cholesterol screening.

Serendipity’s New York flagship, whose following included Marilyn Monroe, Jackie O and Andy Warhol, has outposts in Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., and Boca Raton (inside the Boca Raton Resort & Club). The name refers to chance encounters with the pleasantly unexpected, and we enjoyed a few bits of serendipity on our two visits. First: no lines. Unlike the 58-year-old Upper East Side original, you don’t have to stand for two hours. Second: better-than-average burgers.

Ambience: The Willy Wonka atmosphere in the narrow space is all hustle and clatter, and the cutesy décor includes faux Tiffany lights, old-fashioned signs and lots of booths. This being South Beach, there’s also a bar and a four-page menu of drinks like the “say hello to my little friend” (vodka, A1 sauce and blue cheese-stuffed olive).

What Worked

  • Legendary “frrrozen hot chocolate” that emerges in a bowl-sized cup with multiple straws
  • Oreos deep-fried in pancake batter that jut out of cookies-and-cream ice cream, marshmallow sauce & hot fudge
  • Sundaes topped with chunks of red velvet cake
  • Fried chicken with waffles
  • A tower of Parmesan-sprinkled onion rings with a fried coating as thick as a wool coat
  • Perfectly cooked BBQ and Blue burger – juicy on the inside, with a soft poppy seed bun, thick slabs of bacon, melted blue cheese & barbecue sauce
  • A foot-long hot dog that arrived on a long, elegant white plate with a silver bowl of chopped raw onions
  • A polite and engaging waiter
  • The Monkey Business Banana Walnut milk shake with a cluster of sugared walnuts floating on top

What Didn’t Work

  • A small, rectangular “white party pizza” with dry, cracker-like bread & flavorless gobs of cheese
  • Flank steak with overly sweet chimichurri sauce
  • An extremely dry turkey BLT with barely toasted white bread
  • An inedible Asian chicken salad with hard, dry chicken strips; slimy, soggy bean curd strips; and brown-tipped lettuce



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