The scaffolding at The Forge will come down in a week or two, signaling the end of a year-long, $10 million transformation of the iconic Miami Beach restaurant. Owner Shareef Malnik has changed nearly every aspect of the storied destination, a 1920s blacksmith shop turned celebrity hangout that over four decades attracted stars from Judy Garland to Madonna. Tuxedoed waiters are gone, but the friendly new staff will pamper you like a VIP even if you order the burger (albeit ground Angus steak with lobster marmalade and a Bordeaux tasting). The excellent service extends to the classy 36-seat bar.
While A-listers can still splurge on a five-course meal and an $800 cab, the after-work crowd can share $6 to $15 ‘‘snacks” and pay as little as $15 for a card to the Enomatic dispenser, which pours one-, three- and five-ounce samples of 80 wines (a sommelier is nearby if you have questions). Executive chef Dewey LoSasso (North One 10) has revived standards like the “super steak” and iceberg wedge, but has also created an ambitious, intriguing menu with a playful tone that suits The Forge’s new style.
Ambience: The cozy library and eight-room, 300,000-bottle wine cellar are still here, but the decor has gone from dark and gothic to bright and whimsical, with chains of glass bubbles, light woods and fanciful lilac and white chandeliers.
- A complimentary bread basket loaded with wonderful macadamia nut bread, caramelized onion focaccia, asiago and cinnamon raisin flatbread with honey butter
- Red oak-grilled shrimp atop a classic waffle
- Roasted red and yellow beets in a perky citrus dressing dusted with crumbled goat cheese and aromatic fennel pollen
- Flavorful lobster, peanut butter and “jelly” sandwich – a grown-up snack of fresh lobster with onion marmalade and chopped unsalted peanuts mixed with kimchee, ginger, chives and tamari on toasted brioche
- Heavenly lobster bisque brimming with diced shellfish
- Perfectly textured wild mushroom risotto with an earthy mix of slow-cooked shiitake, portobello, porcini and crimini mushrooms spiked with truffle oil and Parmesan ”Coffee and Eggs” – a well-marbled rib-eye crusted with Colombian Supremo served with a small goat-cheese frittata
- Sublime grilled double-cut lamb chops seasoned with pink Japanese plum salt and plated with a crisp quinoa pancake, cool tangerine mint salad and golden ginger chutney
- Lovely mutton snapper steamed in a bag with crisp vegetables
- Moist and succulent spice-rubbed duck enhanced by a fruity sangria reduction
- Baked polenta with kale
- Fava beans with shallots
- Wasabi caviar butter
- Oh-so-good duck home fries (cooked in duck fat, with pieces of duck)
- Banana fluffernutters
- Soothing lemon panna cotta with a whisper of fennel, served with toasted almond gelato and biscotti
What Didn’t Work
- Bland whole grilled yellowtail snapper
- Over cheddar-ed i cheese grits
- Unimpressive side of collard greens with blueberries