The goods: The restaurant at the Raleigh is one of the most romantic spots in town, but the lantern-lit hideaway had fallen under the radar for lack of a big name chef. That’s all changed with John DeLucie’s launch of the Royal. Known for his cooking at Manhattan’s celeb-studded Waverly Inn and The Lion, DeLucie debuted his new menu last week during Art Basel for maximum VIP exposure.
Ambience: The restaurant’s picture-perfect garden hasn’t changed much – the Royal refurbished the outdoor bar and replaced wicker chairs with curved, whitewashed banquettes. The majestic sea grape trees are still there, strewn with lights and providing a fairytale backdrop.
The grub: Mostly American cooking with a steak house bent. DeLucie penchant for comfort food is expressed in macaroni and cheese (add white truffles for an additional $75), braised short ribs with polenta and a potato gratin with ementaler cheese. Prices are as lavish as the setting: Expect to pay around $45 for a Colorado lamb porterhouse and $10 for a side of fries. Starters average $15 and mains are $21-$55.
Dinner begins with rosemary–infused rolls and olive oil. The cauliflower soup with wild mushrooms is a soul-warming starter on a cool night. Other options include a grilled Mediterranean octopus and an arugula salad tossed with Asian pears, Aragones cheese and pistachios. Mains include chicken under a brick with pancetta and smoked apples and a rosemary-scented, salt-crusted fish served whole. Vegetarians will be happy to see a quinoa with harvest vegetables on the menu. Sides include a creamed spinach casserole, a play on a steak house favorite, and roasted organic carrots or sweet potato wedges.
Verdict: One of South Beach’s sexiest spots get an infusion of New York cool with chef John DeLucie’s celeb-friendly eatery.