By Sara Liss
The goods: The old Johhny V space the at the Art Deco Hotel Astor is now home to Joley, a hidden gem on Washington Avenue. Nicky Bernstein (Michy’s) redesigned the sprawling subterranean space, with 200 seats indoors and 80 on the outdoor patio. Glossy black, white and silver evoke Deco swank with whimsical silver painted globes floating above the room and sheer billowing curtains. The outdoor courtyard, with idyllic candlelit lanterns and soothing mod fountain, is rewarding on cool nights.
The grub: Helmed by exec chef John Suley (of Boca’s Cafe Joley), who has worked with top toques Daniel Boulud and Gordon Ramsay, the focus is on contemporary American and European fare. Prices reflect the upmarket sensibility with most mains above $30 and topping out at a $44 "cowboy" rib eye. Starters include rare Sobe finds like sauteed frogs legs served with pickled jicama and orange habanero sauce and a foie gras terrine with fig port wine chutney. Mains include Tasmanian sea trout (similar in color and texture to salmon) accompanied by soba noodles in a ginger broth and a seared duck breast with endive and spicy pineapple chutney. Meat lovers can choose amongst a selection of steaks, braised beef short ribs served with truffled white grits and a lamb "quattro" with chick pea puree.
Desserts like pear brown butter crepes and pineapple tart tartin beg to be shared. A list of organic signature cocktails (with ingredients like acai) will satisfy health-conscious tipplers.
The verdict: The Hotel Astor, once a hotbed of Beach glam, is now a culinary destination for Miami’s stylish elite. Hungry nightlife hounds will appreciate Joley’s late-night menu and exotic cocktail list.
Joley, 956 Washington Ave., South Beach; 305-534-3343. hotelastor.com