First Look: Wish

Poached Seafood - tiger shrimp, mussels, cockles and calamari served over white corn polenta with tomato salsa and oregano. Photo: Simon Hare

The goods: A new season, a new chef. Wish, the restaurant at The Hotel, has reinvented itself with Chef Marco Ferraro, who brings with him a new menu and a background cooking with culinary giant Jean-Georges Vongerichten. The restaurant’s indoor dining room, designed by Todd Oldham, still retains its retro charm with a turquoise and taupe color scheme and crystal chandeliers. The outdoor courtyard, arguably one of the most romantic in the city, features candlelit tables, oversized canopy umbrellas and a tinkling fountain.

The grub: Uncluttered nouveau American fare. Taking his cue from his French mentor, Ferraro focuses on high quality ingredients with subtle embellishments. Much of his produce is sourced from organic purveyors including Paradise Farms in Homestead. This being in the tourist zone of South Beach, prices are skewed to the special-occasion crowd; starters edge toward $20 while mains range $28 to $44 for a grilled beef tenderloin. Start off with a tangy bowl of heirloom tomato gazpacho poured tableside over diced watermelon and cucumbers.

Entrees focus on seafood, with snapper, salmon, skate, swordfish and scallops composing the majority of the ten offerings. The local snapper comes bathed in a tomato water with artichokes and summer squash, while the beef tenderloin and beef short rib are accompanied by a Moroccan-spiced carrot confit and silky cauliflower mash. Sides like the tempura-fried bok choy and a thick mac and cheese round out the cleanly flavored feast.

For dessert head straight for the house made sorbets, which on a recent night included choices such as blueberry, white peach, Asian pear and lychee.

The verdict: With Chef Marco Ferarro Wish continues its tradition of nurturing young, ambitious chefs who elevate this South Beach restaurant above the tourist-focused fray.

Wish at The Hotel, 801 Collins Ave; 305-674-9474. Dinner: Tues.-Sun. 6- 11 p.m. (until midnight on Friday and Saturday). Lunch: 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. daily. Breakfast: 7-11:30 a.m. daily

Published: 11/08

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