Tatel’s opening in Miami has been eagerly awaited by many. After all, global superstars and restaurant partners Rafael Nadal and Enrique Iglesias, and basketball star, Pau Gasol, are ambassadors for the Spain-based project, along with business entrepreneurs Abel Matutes and Manuel Campos Guallar. The first Tatel restaurant has become one of the trendiest restaurants in Madrid. They are planning on taking the brand global and becoming a restaurant chain with locations planned for Ibiza, Barcelona, London, Vegas and beyond.
Located in the heart of the Art Deco district inside the Ritz-Carlton South Beach at 1669 Collins Avenue, it opened at the end of March 2017 and is the latest in the chain to launch. This was the former home of Bouley a few years ago, but they couldn’t make a go of it. South Beach is the wrong place for gourmet food it seems.
First off, the dining room is stunning, you can see there were deep pockets when it came to decorating the sumptuous and sophisticated dining room. The colour palate is done in soft blues and grays, with plush expensive area rugs and floors combining marble and terrazzo. As soon as you walk in you will see a beautiful round central bar that served excellent signature cocktails. The first room is a clubby cocktail area, where I assume walk-ins are seated without a reservation. And you will need an advance reservation to get in here, at least until the hype dies down. The restaurant can sit around 200 people. It has high ceilings, raised banquets and a private dining room in the back. There are also areas on the sides of the restaurant that can be curtained off to provide more privacy.
I booked on OpenTable and the only time that was available was 6:45. Of course, the place was completely empty at that time. People did not start coming in until at least 8:30, and I have been told the place doesn’t start pumping until 10pm when a DJ comes on and plays between live performances.
They were able to steal executive chef Nicolas Mazier from NOBU Miami and he helms the kitchen here (hence his famous black miso cod on the menu).
The concept is to bring Spain and its lifestyle to you through classic Spanish cuisine, wine, culture and music. Chef Nicolas has also added some contemporary versions of the classics as well. He has also added some locally inspired dishes for Miami.
When you walk in you find a “master” carver, hand cutting the famous Iberico ham, which runs $65 for a small plate. Other starters that we tried were the fried artichokes topped with a few slices of the same ham. The dish was tasty but the artichokes would have been better if they were hotter and crispier. The avocado with carabineros al ajillo, which are tiny red shrimps, was a bland, uninspiring dish. One signature dish that does deliver is the tortilla trufada, a Spanish omelette with truffles. It was very tasty but did come to the table anemic looking. If they browned the dish a little it would have been much more appealing. They also failed to mention that it could easily feed 3-4 people as an appetizer. It is a very rich dish. They offer 14 hot and cold “sharing” plates, but honestly they are larger than tapas size, and you don’t have to share. We decided to forgo wine even though, I must say they offer an extensive array of wines and not just from Spain (though there was an impressive selection of Rojas), but from around the world. We also thought they put a lot of thought into their craft cocktail selection and we were all very satisfied with our choices.
For our mains, I ordered what I thought was the best dish of the entrees, the grilled branzino with Tatel extra virgin olive oil. The oven baked cod with miso sauce was good, although salty for our guest. The signature veal Milanese with egg and truffle was more pomp and circumstance than excellence. The chop was huge, pounded very thin. They then spread a slow-cooked egg on top and shave a few minuscule, tasteless black truffles on top. The crust was soggy, the meat was not hot or very tasty for that matter. This usually is my husband’s favourite dish, and he was not impressed.
All the mains come unadorned so we ordered something called barley risotto with shaved truffle. Except it wasn’t barley and it wasn’t risotto. Instead, it was a mushy orzo in a very heavy cream sauce, feh. Ditto for the heavily creamed spinach with pine nuts.
For dessert, we tried the Spanish cheesecake. I love this dessert in Spain and here it was adequate. We also had the lemon meringue tart, the meringue almost had the consistency of whipped cream. Let’s just say the dish looked better than it tasted. So all in all not a very satisfying meal. We also felt like it was heavy and laden with too much excess fat. Not something I normally complain about. If something is delicious, then it is worth the calories. In terms of the cuisine the menu endeavours to combine traditional and contemporary Spanish haute cuisine in a varied menu that combines rices, pastas, charcuterie, fish and meat. If you have traveled to Spain you will know just how superb the cuisine is there. They don’t come close here. What they do accomplish is an ultimate watering hole, a beautiful environment and a fun time, if you can just stay up late enough.