Saba is one of the hottest restaurants in New Orleans. The sleek Uptown spot offers celebrity chef Alon Shaya’s takes on classic Israeli and Mediterranean dishes—including the show-stopping hummus topped with blue crab meat.
He recently attended the Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival and agreed to keep a diary of his trip for us.
“I had a blast,” says the chef. So read on for his travelogue of where he ate and drank. Don’t blame us if you book a trip to Miami after reading it.
Wednesday afternoon we took a Lyft straight to the Four Seasons Surfside to check out the Le Sirenuse Champagne Bar and Thomas Keller’s new restaurant Surf Club. My wife Emily and I passed the time waiting for the Surf Club to open by enjoying glasses of Champagne and snacking on potato chips and olives, just like we do when we are in Italy.
Finally, at 6 PM the Surf Club opened and we took two seats at the bar. The establihsment is a throwback to 1930s Miami luxury with impeccable service and food. We enjoyed the tableside presentations of Dover sole and bone marrow the most.
After our first dinner, we met chef Cara Peterson, from my New Orleans restaurant Saba, at Joe’s Stone Crab. Joe’s is an institution we can’t pass up. We feasted on cracked stone and grilled king crab, and, of course, Key lime pie.
We then checked into the Soho House and enjoyed one of their house-made Negroni’s from the minibar on our balcony.
We skipped breakfast and went to check in with the kitchen staff at Soho House and Byblos for our two upcoming events.
After that, we went by the Faena Hotel to check out its much talked-about decor. It was over the top and so was the Argentinian outdoor grill Francis Mallmann built outside the restaurant for his event that evening.
Then, we went to get ready for our dinner at Soho Beach House. We were invited by the Soho House to create a dinner for its members that represents our company, Pomegranate Hospitality. We prepared a menu comprised of dishes from Saba in New Orleans and Safta in Denver. Of course, the dinner had to include my Grandmother’s lutenitsa recipe and whole Florida grouper seasoned with lemon and herbs, wrapped in grape leaves, and baked.
Once the dinner was over, we went to the SOBEWFF Chef’s After Party at the Dutch in the W South Beach Hotel.
We woke up early and hit up Cecconi’s in the Soho House for breakfast. It’s a beautiful space with killer cold brew coffee.
Then we snagged a chaise at the beach and drank Pina Coladas and had lobster rolls for lunch.
Late that afternoon, we prepared for the weekend’s main event, my so-called Grandparent’s Dinner at Byblos. I asked my friends David Slater of Emeril’s, Dana Rodriguez of Work & Class and Super Mega Bien in Denver, and chef Ben Heaton of Iconink, to join me for this dinner. Each chef cooked items that were inspired by his or her own grandparents. I was happy to mimic the flavors of my Safta’s stuffed cabbage by charring cabbage in a wood burning oven and serving it atop a hazelnut and roasted red pepper muhamarrah. We also served borekas stuffed with preserved leeks and feta cheese.
Other unforgettable tastes from that night include chef Dana’s green pozole with pork ribs and crispy tortillas, chef Slater’s short rib stuffed pyroshkis from Ukraine, and chef Heaton’s sticky toffee English bundt cake. Chef Jeremy Fogg, also of Emeril’s, made an amazing chocolate Guilt Cake, which was inspired by chef Slater’s grandmother.
We woke up early to catch our flight home. I had just enough time for a cafe con leche at Versailles in the airport.