* Click here for rating key
The Dutch Restaurant Review: In a space formerly occupied by far more formal, fine dining Solea, this second location of chef Andrew Carmellini’s SoHo original has a minimalist modern look better suited to both its status as the W South Beach’s casual restaurant (Mr. Chow is the top-end spot) and to a beach location. Admittedly, self-referencing to inspiration from seaside shacks seems staged considering the place’s prices; we’ve never encountered beach shacks charging $24 for a basic bacon-and-egg breakfast, nor $4.50 for a single donut. That said, the donuts are worth their tab, as are ultra-flaky crusted pies. So is much of the other creative comfort food crafted by chef de cuisine Conor Hanlon. While many of SoBe’s celeb chef spin-off eateries merely mimic the originals’ menus, this spot has numerous dishes that are different, or at least tweaked to accommodate local tastes and ingredients. Some locals-oriented dishes don’t quite stack up to similar items available elsewhere in town (like yellowtail crudo with spicy watermelon and jalapeños --- okay, just lacking in finesse), but many raise the ante: fun lime-dusted pork popcorn with salsa verde; salted lime pie, a refreshing reinvention of an often cloying South Florida cliché. And many NYC transplants are irresistible, notably fresh raw oysters and crisp-fried oyster mini-sandwiches with spicy pickled okra dressing. Sadly, service is often uninformed and/or inattentive, the exception being sommelier Nick Abuabara, who will reliably guide diners through a mind-bogglingly extensive --- and expensive ($50-$4,000) --- wine list covering the world from famous to boutique brands; artisan beers are more budget-friendly.