In late November 2018, The Surf Club Restaurant officially opened its doors—and it has been on our “must try” list ever since. Multi-starred Michelin Chef, Thomas Keller honors the decades of leisure, time and grand parties through his classic Continental cuisine, perfectly interpreted for today’s contemporary guests to enjoy the Surfside beach view. This new restaurant in North Miami, a first for Chef Keller in Florida, exhibits a timeless menu inspired by the historical setting.
We discovered the interior beauty and delightful dishes while celebrating an 80th birthday party and elements of the story that got Keller to Miami as shared with the Miami Herald. (We stopped at La Sirenuse, also in the Four Seasons Hotel, down Peacock Alley from Surf Club restaurant, beforehand for artisanal cocktails and a lesson in lemon essence.)
The project was more than five years in the making. Keller has been mulling over this idea and testing new recipes without a place to put the restaurant, always believing it belonged in New York, Las Vegas or Miami Beach. He almost agreed several years ago to take over Azul at the Mandarin Oriental on Brickell Key. But about 18 months ago he met The Surf Club’s new owner, Nadim Ashi, for dinner in New York, and he became convinced Surfside’s historic beach club was the right project.
When Keller visited the Surf Club’s original building, he said he knew he had found a spot to put his restaurant of classic Americana. He told the Miami Herald, “When I walked in, it reminded me of the moment I walked into the French Laundry,” he said. “It’s iconic. It has history.”
In many ways, The Surf Club is reminiscent of the historic Breakers Hotel in the town of Palm Beach, where Keller grew up working at his mother’s restaurant in the Palm Beach Yacht Club. Keller loves that South Floridians always seem to be celebrating something when they go out to dinner. He wants The Surf Club restaurant to be the same way.
“People love to go out and have a good time,” he said. “Go to any restaurant in Miami, and everybody’s having a good time. I love that energy. That sense of excitement of being together in a social setting.”
Keller says the dishes represent America’s “golden age,” naturally with Keller’s focus on the freshest and highest-quality ingredients. He spent more than five years developing the recipes and tested some of them as part of the pop-up Ad Lib (which we enjoyed checking off our culinary bucket list!) while he closed the French Laundry for renovations.
More about The Surf Club
Legends and luminaries, all came to The Surf Club for its reputation as a place where proper impropriety was allowed, it was for people with good taste seeking good times. It combined power and pleasure, ceremony and swagger – its members felt off duty but on show, together. It provided its crowd with somewhere they felt they belonged, somewhere safe: a ballroom and beach, behind closed doors. The Surf Club was a place of imagination and possibility; it turned experiences into memories.
“I want sun, solitude, serenity, and something to eat, perhaps something to drink.”—WINSTON CHURCHILL
The Surf Club today comprises a social club, a 77-room Four Seasons Hotel, 120 Residences, 30 Hotel Residences, Le Sirenuse Restaurant & Champagne Bar, The Surf Club Restaurant by Thomas Keller, a state-of-the-art Spa, 40 beach Cabanas, and 2 Boutiques, all spread over three buildings on 9 acres of pristine beachfront along the Atlantic Ocean.
Photos by Surf Club Restaurant