David Myers Brings Adrift Mare to Miami

Wine

David Myers is not only an acclaimed chef, but also an accomplished traveler who has crisscrossed the globe. Myers celebrates those journeys through his Adrift concept, which premiered in 2015 at the Marina Bay Sands resort in Singapore, before expanding to Tokyo, Dubai, New Delhi, Doha and Venice Beach, Calif., with each location having a different culinary focus. In late July, Adrift Mare arrived in Miami, on the 25th floor of the Hotel AKA Brickell, becoming Myers’ first restaurant on the East Coast.

“There is a lot of synergy between our brands,” Myers told Wine Spectator via email, noting that he first connected with AKA president Larry Korman two years ago. “Both Adrift and AKA put design in focus and aim to create truly authentic experiences for their guests.”

Myers brings experience from some of the finest kitchens in the world. He has worked with leading culinary figures such as Daniel Boulud and the late Charlie Trotter. (He also contributed to Wine Spectator as a guest writer in the early 2000s.) In addition to Adrift, Myers founded other acclaimed restaurants, including Sona in Los Angeles, which held a Wine Spectator Grand Award before closing in 2010.

His latest restaurant “encapsulates the chicness of the French Riviera, the vibrancy of fresh Italian produce, the relaxed vibe of the Balearic Islands, warm Levant hospitality and the gentle rhythms of the Greek Isles,” said Myers, who encourages guests to share and sample different plates. Executive chef Kamarl John prepares dishes like hummus with fermented garlic honey flatbread, crispy eggplant with lemon salt, heirloom tomatoes with smoked olive oil, a shish kabob with pickled vegetables and several steaks with garlic harissa. “For those who have dined at other Adrift restaurants around the world, there are some familiar signature dishes that have been tweaked,” the chef noted, citing the Maine lobster roll, which Adrift Mare serves with Lebanese oregano.

David Myers draws from Mediterranean culinary traditions at Adrift Mare, on display with the restaurant’s shish kabob. (Michael Pisarri)

Head sommelier Blake Micheletto taps a wine list of 300 selections, 30 served by the glass (several from a Coravin preservation system). “Our wine program consists of Mediterranean splendor revolving around France, Italy, Spain, Greece and plenty [from California] for everyone’s palate,” said Micheletto. “[It] goes hand in hand with our food menu, reflecting the very same regions that inspired the concept.” Guests can look to Champagne, Rioja, Sonoma Pinot Noir, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon (the Californian wines representing Myers’ links to the Golden State) and much more, with bottles from some of the wine world’s best-known names: Billecart-Salmon, Gaja, Beaulieu Vineyard and Vega Sicilia, for example.

The 3,000-bottle collection contains some serious gems, including a vertical of Penfolds Grange, large-format bottles and a showstopping lineup of Bordeauxs and super Tuscans. A bit farther off the beaten path, there are also selections from regions like Savoie, Sicily, Sardinia and Toro. “Wine, like food, should be fun and we want our guests to get curious and trust our sommelier with recommending labels that they may not have heard of or tried,” said Micheletto. Adrift Mare also boasts a robust cocktail program from mixologists Moe Aljaff and Juliette Larrouy, with drinks like the gin-based Mare 50/50.

Guests enjoy their meals in an 11-story, 2,413-square-foot atrium designed by Michael Gabellini of Gabellini Sheppard Associates. In the daytime, sunlight drenches the 65-seat dining room, filled with lush plants, through the window-lined walls. Whether diners are sitting inside or on the restaurant’s balcony, they are treated to views of Miami and Biscayne Bay. For private events, there is a separate 41-seat dining room.

“Miami is such an incredible city, full of energy and buzz,” said Myers. “We’ve been open less than a month and have already had people from all corners of the world come and visit us. I’m excited to see what the rest of the year brings!”—C.D.


Brooklyn Wine Bar Opens with a Star New York Team

 The dining room at bar56, with a ceiling of wood beams, wood columns and a wall made from rock

Contemporary American cuisine joins a distinctively organized wine program at bar56. (Michael Grimm)

In the New York City dining landscape, Midtown Manhattan has been getting plenty of love lately from chefs opening new restaurants, but make no mistake, the scene is growing in Brooklyn too. In August, wine bar and restaurant bar56 opened in the Dumbo neighborhood, not far from the Brooklyn Bridge.

Leading the new endeavor is owner James Fantaci, an experienced wine professional who also owns neighboring wine shop and tasting room taste56, which opened in July. Fantaci oversees the beverage program with sommelier and vice president of operations Aaron Fusco, an alum of Brooklyn restaurant Oxalis and Wine Spectator Grand Award winner Daniel, and general manager Michael Brown, formerly of NoHo mainstay Lafayette.

“We have been working on this project for a long time, so it has been rewarding to see the pieces come together,” Fantaci told Wine Spectator via email. “The most exciting part has been to experience the energy of a full dining room, the reactions of guests to the design, wine list and especially the food.”

As at taste56, Fantaci arranged the wine list by “Palate Character,” dividing it into sections such as “Bright & Crisp,” “Rich & Full” and “Powerful & Extracted.” True to bar56’s name, 56 labels are served by the glass and by the bottle, while the reserve list contains another 60 wines. These selections are also available for delivery or pickup at taste56. “[The Palate Character system] facilitates a language between servers and consumers, and helps guests match wine with the food,” Fantaci explained. “We have had an overwhelmingly positive response. Not only do guests find it easier to find wines that might fit their preferences, but they also feel more empowered to try new varieties.”

France and California feature heavily, with Burgundy, Provence rosé, Sonoma Chardonnay, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and more; there’s plenty from Italy and Spain as well, plus bottlings from Oregon, Australia, South Africa and beyond. Alongside these is a selection of cocktails, including the gin-based “Up Gorgeous” and the “Tradewinds,” made with light and dark rums.

Leading the kitchen at bar56 is executive chef Vincent Cortese, a veteran of top area kitchens, including those at Daniel and Best of Award of Excellence winner Bar Boulud, where he was executive chef. Cortese’s contemporary American cuisine menu (guests will notice French and Italian influences as well) includes dishes such as potato croquettes with speck, fried artichokes with roasted garlic labneh, hiramasa (yellowtail amberjack) crudo, a dry-aged strip loin with grilled gem lettuce and a raviolo with ricotta from local cheesemaker Salvatore BKLYN. “[Cortese] has curated a menu that showcases his talents, and thoughtfulness in terms of ingredients, presentation and diversity of flavors and textures,” Fantaci observed. “Guests have commented on how they enjoy the opportunity to match by-the-glass wines to the individual [small] plates.”

Bar56 is spread across four areas within the 1892-built Empire Stores building on Water Street: a 52-seat dining room with brick walls and original wood beams, a 17-seat bar, a seating area beside the bar and a 10-seat lounge featuring a wall made with stones from the same rock quarry that provided for the Brooklyn Bridge. Fantaci and design firm Studio Shea accented these spaces with gray leather banquettes, hand-painted pewter wallpaper, walnut tables (custom-made by Brooklyn’s own Manjiro Design), oak chairs and ochre glass chandeliers.—C.D.


L’Abeille Opens a Sibling Restaurant Next Door in Manhattan

 A plate of sea bass within a fish-shaped taiyaki pastry shell

The French-Japanese menu at L’Abeille à Côté includes a plate of sea bass within a fish-shaped taiyaki pastry shell. (Liz Clayman)

In August, Kuma Hospitality Group opened the doors of their latest project, L’Abeille à Côté, a compact restaurant connected by a discreet hallway to Best of Award of Excellence winner L’Abeille in the Tribeca neighborhood of Manhattan.

L’Abeille à Côté is grounded in the French-Japanese fare of L’Abeille chef Mitsunobu Nagae, but also has a more tongue-in-cheek and casual approach, according to L’Abeille wine director David Bérubé (who is also overseeing the wine program at the new location). Choosing from the à la carte menu, guests enjoy small bites like crispy octopus fritters or scallop tartare scattered with nori, as well as larger plates like sea bass encased in a taiyaki pastry shell (in the shape of a fish) or a hefty American Wagyu ribeye. Like the space itself, the menu is intended to be more approachable than its tasting-menu counterpart at L’Abeille, more suited to casual evenings out.

A showstopper in L’Abeille à Côté’s small, 20-seat dining room is the exposed wine room, displaying 300 bottles. With a diverse array of wines from across the globe, the new list is succinct, with 10 selections each of sparkling, white and red wines, with no bottle exceeding $500. Standout wineries include Col d’Orcia in Tuscany, Lucien Le Moine in Burgundy and Von Winning in Germany. For those who desire a larger selection, guests can access L’Abeille’s full wine cellar of more than 480 labels and 2,000 bottles, centered primarily on celebrated wines from France.—J.L.

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