Welcome to: Where I Spent My Weekend Off —by a NYC Restaurant "Insider"
So, what do you do in the industry?
I used to do lots of things. Now I do other things.
And how often do you travel on weekends, generally?
It varies, but my goal is every eight weeks.
What made you choose Miami Beach for this getaway?
It’s the sixth borough of NYC!
And where did you stay?
The W. I’ve already tried most of South Beach’s better hotels; it was next on the list.
How were the ambience, service, and amenities, etc?
Very good. Better than I expected. The rooms are spacious, sagacious, and chic.
And unbelievably quiet. So many of the "hip" hotels in this area have loud, rowdy weekend parties all night long— great if you’re a butcher looking for some meat; horrible if you’d just like to get some sleep.
The W is no exception; their poolside bar/lounge is pumpin til the wee hours. But the really impressive thing is that you just slide those massive glass doors shut and you don’t hear a single sound. No joke, I slept better this weekend than I have most places in my lifetime. Yes, even my own current apartment.
The other great thing is the balconies are huge and beautifully furnished. Even the ones in front of the building that face the parking lot are angled toward the ocean. I mean, how come nobody ever thought of that before?
It used to be The Setai (and then maybe The Fountainbleu, after renovation) was the only truly top-notch world-class hotel in South Beach. Well, believe it or not, The W in Miami Beach comes really really close. Generally, I’m not a fan of W hotels (although I remember the one is Seoul is pretty kick-ass). But I must admit this particular W has definitely got its shit together.
Even the service all over was excellent.
Any major glitches and/or disappointments?
Well, does it kinda irk me you pay about $600/night for a room, and they can’t even give you free WiFi? Sure it does; trifling nickel-and-diming bitches. Fortunately I’m always packin my own travel hotspot, so it wasn’t a major issue— but ya know, it’s the principle.
Also, I don’t understand why the lobby has to be below 40 degrees all the goddamned time. I guess it’s to keep all the meat fresh.
Any great standout experiences?
I did go to a new restaurant this time. Normally it’s all the usual suspects— The Restaurant at The Setai, Nobu, Mr. Chow, etc— but this time one of the beach-valet-whatever dudes recommended a Japanese place I’d never tried before called Daraku. Apparently it’s some sort of Rocky Aoki endeavor, and it was pretty good. Similar to Nobu but at half the price, I am not even kidding.
We were told the Ahi Poke was "to die for," but it actually turned out a wee too salty (drowning in soy sauce), but the Hamachi Tiradito was exceptional. The Rock Shrimp was okay (Nobu style, except with sauce on the side instead) and the Red Dragon Roll was very delicious. The rest of it was decent, and the ambience wasn’t bad either (if you don’t mind it kinda clamorous).
Supposedly it’s a big hit with the locals (read: the Miami Beach F&B industry) and it must be true, because it’s the only place I can recall in recent memory that didn’t include the gratuity automatically.
Oh! And I got to swim with the sardines!
I guess it’s the season for the Great Sardine Migration, and on the first day we watched from the balcony as a massive school of sardines traveled along the shoreline. The coolest part was when it looked like they were about to overtake this pelican that was just chillin on the surface of the ocean, but at the very last second, the sardines swam completely around the pelican!
Well, that’s exactly what happened to us too, the following day the sardines overtook us, they seemed close enough to just reach out and touch. There must have been millions of them— and right when it seemed a wave was headed straight for you and you were just about to get smacked in the face with a tide of flippery fish, they would all abruptly change direction and miss you entirely. It was one of the neatest things I’ve ever seen.
Oh but I don’t know if the poor sardines were lost or what, because one day they were heading north, but the very next day they were swimming south. So, figure that one out.
How much did you blow all weekend?
It was a four-day weekend so I guess about $4500-$5000 including airfare.