Stephen Starr is certainly one of most successful restaurateurs in the world, with a career that started in Philadelphia, and now includes numerous projects in New York City, Miami, Atlantic City, and Washington, D.C. His newest opening, in South Beach, harks back to his roots — it’s the fourth location of his very first restaurant, The Continental (the original location is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year).
The Continental Miami is located directly in front of the new Starwood hotel, Aloft South Beach. Featuring a large outdoor area that surrounds the hotel pool with two bars and a well-sized indoor space, The Continental Miami is already making waves with its original décor and inventive menu.
In a city full of sleek, white, mod design, Starr is certainly bringing something fresh style-wise. The bright, fun décor (from Shawn Hausman Design) is decidedly 50’s kitsch — think tropical prints, lush greenery, wicker chairs, and beach vibes. The pièce de résistance is most certainly the low-hanging gardens coming directly from the ceilings, creating a true indoor-outdoor ambience.
Overseeing the kitchen is Matthew Oetting, who most recently was executive chef of Starr’s Caffe Storico in New York City. Starr’s corporate chef Erik Battes, who held lead culinary roles at Morimoto and Jean-Georges in New York, worked closely with Oetting to develop the menu. The team produced creative dishes for the new location that are inspired by, but not copies of, the original.
The cuisine is labeled as an “intersection of global flavors,” and includes highlights (most meant for sharing) such as Build Your Own sushi, where tuna, salmon, sushi rice, toasted nori, and vegetables are delivered in a bento box with instructions; the already famous backyard burger with aged Cheddar and Nueske’s bacon; the crispy tuna tartare spring rolls; the Philadelphia-by-way-of-China cheesesteak eggroll with cherry peppers, American cheese, and sriracha ketchup; and the wonderfully garlicky Sizzling Seafood Wor Bar with lobster, shrimp, and scallops.
The original Continental took great pride in their cocktails, and the Miami location refuses to come up short. With a full and colorful beverage menu (which is almost as fun as the drinks themselves), the bar is serving winners like the fuchsia Dragonfruit Mule with vodka, dragon fruit puree, lime, and Fever Tree ginger beer; The Continental Martini with Hayman’s Old Tom gin, and Dolin dry vermouth; and the vacation-y Trinidad & Ta-boo-yah with dry gin, tangy passion fruit, exotic honey, and orange blossom.