There has been a lot of hype since the opening of The Drexel, a new South Beach restaurant at 1436 Drexel Avenue and Espanola Way located in what once was a 1920’s youth hostel in a restored historical district. The founders of Mandolin Aegean Bistro are behind the restaurant as well as managing the new Esme Hotel.
The restaurant located on the ground floor of the hotel is very attractive, designed in sandy neutrals and black accents. offset with greenery. They can seat 70 inside and an additional 20 outside. The tables are seated with stunning but uncomfortable wicker chairs on hardwood floors. The dim lighting adds to the ambiance, and French-style doors open to an inviting lit patio with trees and old-fashioned street lamps.
The menu is divided into appetizers, pizza and pasta, salads and vegetables, and wood and charcoal. The menu is Mediterranean/Italian and is run by Chef Nano Crespo.
The food was respectable but nothing to rave about. The charred squid was tender but undercooked and lacking in any real flavour. The red snapper crudo had a lovely tomato water dressing but I feel would have been improved if thinly sliced. The best dish of the evening was the heirloom tomato salad, with avocado, hearts of palm, and niçoise olives. The hen of the woods mushrooms was tasteless. We looked forward to trying the whole organic chicken, but the meat was dried out and the fries were limp and soggy. It was accompanied by an average-tasting bowl of greens. Our waiter Nico, was efficient and he offered to change our plates after each course if we desired.
There were a couple of dessert offerings. One was a chocolate soufflé, but they don’t tell you about it until dessert time and it takes 20 minutes to prepare. They should mention it when you order your mains. We actually enjoyed their panna cotta rendition made with Greek yoghurt, served on top of a caramel sauce, and sprinkled with pistachios and candied orange peel.
There was a curated cocktail list, some rare boutique wines, a nice selection of beers as well as a few non-alcoholic beverages.
I wouldn’t make a special trip here, but if I was in the area I might consider it.