The iconic Eden Roc Miami Beach has unveiled a newly updated signature restaurant with a talented young chef at the helm. A short stroll through the stunning property’s buzzy lobby and out the doors past the sparkling pools leads to the waterfront Ocean Social by Tristen Epps. Here, diners will enjoy upscale yet comfortable dining in a breezy, decidedly relaxed oceanfront setting that oozes with charm and good vibes. The location is dazzling, seating 142 indoor and mostly out, along with a 28-seat bar lounge. But it is the standout cuisine by the acclaimed Chef Epps that will catapult this spectacular location to the top of everyone’s go-to list for South Florida dining.
Epps, an award-winning chef whose Trinidadian roots and global travels inform the restaurant’s seafood-forward menu, boasts a culinary pedigree equal parts Caribbean roots, classical training and global influences. Most recently, he worked with eight-time James Beard Award-winning celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson as executive chef of the Miami outpost of Samuelsson’s Red Rooster Overtown. In his new role at Ocean Social, Epps makes his own mark with a menu that is strongly defined by quality ingredients from local farmers and producers. Most importantly, it is wholly his – a showcase for his well-honed culinary philosophy which promotes local purveyors, inclusivity and a strong sense of play.
Ocean Social’s menu, appropriate to its name, encourages sharing with offerings including Social Snacks, Social Starters, Surf, Turf, and Harvested. The Fire to Table section offers woodfired, sharable entrees. A must for any diner starting their Ocean Social voyage is bread service for the table. It varies nightly but comes with three different types of cultured butter such as seaweed, honey, and traditional; served with fresh house-made bread including activated-charcoal rolls, sourdough focaccia and crispy flatbread crackers. “To me, bread service is like a handshake to everyone at the table. It’s an introduction to the evening, the warm welcome that foretells what’s to come,” offers Chef Epps.
From there it’s on to other Social Snacks and Starters including Crispy Chicken “Oyster”, an optical illusion of a dish – a lightly breaded grown-up version of a chicken nugget, served in an oyster shell with nori green goddess dressing and pickled chili; Key West Shrimp Toast, a flavorful snack made with aji amarillo, garlic honey and dashi mustard espuma; and Baby Boniato, boniato fries in a guava mojo, served with a spiced yogurt dipping sauce and candied pistachio. Several items showcase the restaurant’s relationship with uber local purveyors – a light and perfectly balanced Mushroom Ceviche made with king trumpet mushrooms from Marvelous Mushroom, almond leche de tigre, hearts of palm and onions; and the Garden of Eden Salad featuring locally gathered lettuces and shaved vegetables, served with two dressings – green goddess and Florida citronette.
Main plate standouts are many – on the Surf side there is often a little unexpected and unconventional Turf as with the Dry-Aged Swordfish T-Bone, swordfish steak which has been aged 14-16 days in Ocean Social’s dry-aging locker; cut on the bone and topped with a glorious mix of braised brisket, local maitake mushrooms, brassica and Szechuan peppercorn; what Chef Epps refers to as “unpredictable surf and turf.” Other seafood specialties include an irresistibly Floridian Day Boat Local Snapper served with grilled gai lan, baby farm turnips and apple red curry sauce, and Fire to Table plates including a Hearth Roast Whole Local Fish wrapped in banana leaf with an epis (Haitian green pepper) marinade and served with maduros. Turf is equally as impressive with offerings such as a Mishima American Wagyu Strip with bone marrow croqueta, heirloom confit carrot and tamarind red wine sauce; and the woodfired shareable C.A.B Short Rib which is prepared “lomo saltado” style and features a 26-hour short rib complemented by umami potatoes, miso butter rice and cumin soy jus.
Desserts from executive pastry chef Antonia Grandberry are worth saving room for. Find the perfect balance of sweet and salty with Popcorn Cheesecake – dulce cremeux, popcorn dust and banana brown butter ice cream. A variation on the traditional Key lime pie is the Calamansi Meringue Tart, an updated version of the old standard featuring calamansi which is slightly more acidic than lime. It’s served with pistachio praline, calamansi “caviar” and pistachio ice cream. Additional indulgences include a perfect Valrhona Chocolate Torte offered with manjari mousse, praline, gianduja and toasted milk ice cream; and a Winter Citrus & Strawberry Pavlova made with Swank Farms strawberries, blood orange coconut creme, cara cara and butterfly pea sorbet.
The wine list is comprehensive with a great selection of wines by the glass and specialty cocktails range from tropical concoctions like the Ocean’s Roc – Plantation pineapple rum, Aperol, pineapple juice, lime juice and agave – to the whimsical Pink Bikini – Casamigos Blanco tequila, cranberry juice and agave topped with prosecco – to sophisticated as in the Slice of Life – Basil Hayden bourbon, Courvoisier, Giffard apricot demerara, orange juice, lemon juice and angostura bitters.
The restaurant itself features comfortable neutral tone furniture that extends the feeling of the sand onto the terrace – with banquettes and oceanfront tables in an unfussy, but elegant setting. A retractable roof makes outdoor dining possible regardless of the weather or time of day; as do the refreshing ocean breezes.
Ocean Social by Tristen Epps is located at 4525 Collins Avenue at the Eden Roc Miami Beach. For more information, visit www.edenrochotelmiami.com/ocean-social; Telephone: (786) 961-6043. Instagram: @OceanSocialMiamiBeach