Shhhhhh…don’t say a word, but the newly reopened ‘Vesper’ restaurant at the Shelborne South Beach hotel offers a fine dining experience disguised as a casual eatery.
We never ate at the old Vesper but its stock-in-trade was thick, juicy steaks and dry martinis, a la James Bond. Tired of trying to compete with the extensive steakhouses, though, Executive Chef Javier Carballo performed a menu makeover and now Vesper has reopened with a simple brown-paper menus, brief menu descriptions, and, considering its swanky South Beach locale, shockingly affordable prices.
We started off with cocktails, which features a selection of signature smooth drinks, each prices at $10. We liked all we sampled, but a particular nod goes to the 18th and Collins martini, a pretty raspberry-and-mint green looker made from Absolut Miami, blue curacao, and tastes of mango and pineapple.
For appetizers, we started with tuna tartar, a large scoop of chopped raw tuna mixed with avocado and mango, and served with crispy fried wonton chips. The tempura rock shrimp was (again) a generous serving of tender, crispy fried nuggets of shrimp.
Now, what would you expect to get for entrees that range from $14-16? Probably not much these days but, again, Vesper over delivers. We ordered the churrasco and got two slices of butter-tender skirt steak, served with morro (black beans and rice) and sweet, soft maduros (plantains). The cedar plank salmon was two chunks of perfectly grilled salmon, with flaky meat encased in crispy skin, served on a cushion of oval-shaped marble potatoes. Both dishes were perfectly prepared to our specifications.
We managed to save a little room for dessert, and Vesper did not disappoint. At Manager Luis Morales’ suggestion, we ordered the homemade donuts, which were five bite-sized crispy-shelled pillows. You can dip them in the little pitcher of warm chocolate syrup, or be really decadent or eat them ala mode style by ordering the house made gelato to go alongside. Desserts are $7 each.
Opened last year as part of the Shelborne’s $20 million renovation, Vesper’s decor remains spiffy. There’s a large outdoor cafe, decorated in green-and-white casual style, or the snazzy indoor restaurant, with dim lighting, dark paneling and glass accents, which features mural-sized photographs of vintage Miami Beach scenes.
You need to follow a winding path to find Vesper, but it’s well worth the hunt.
More info: Vesper at Shelborne South Beach