Seasalt and Pepper definitely took the cake for buzz this past season. It had all the elements in place to hit the zeitgeist. A seaplane hanger-turned restaurant by interior designer extraordinaire Stephane Dupoux, an explosion of an installation by artist Carlos Betancourt and delicious, clean Mediterranean food came together to capture a vibe once felt in South Beach’s halcyon days. But what about six, or seven months later? In the middle of summer, on a week night? It’s still buzzing.
The restaurant draws a moneyed crowd fighting for yacht space on their water frontage. It has been said spending a lazy Sunday there drinking rosé and watching billionaires fight over whose mega-yacht gets to dock (it’s first come, first serve and a fee per foot).
But what about the food? Reviews I’d heard had been mixed. Some loved it, some said the scene was the real reason for going, but after a stellar weeknight dinner, a good six months after the restaurant’s initial opening, I can attest the food is superlative. Delicate salads with clean fresh dressings? Check. Perfectly cooked whole Mediterranean branzino? Check. Innovative Sea Bass casserole with grilled veggies? Delicious. And the pasta— well— it was al dente and good enough for a judgmental Italian. We really had trouble choosing between a short-rib and black truffle pappardele, spaghettini with artichokes and fresh tomato and the homemade tagliolini with porchini mushrooms and arugula. We went with the former and the latter and were not disappointed one bit.
The wine menu is fair and has something for everybody from a $58 Tuscan Chianti Classico to a $375 Opus One. Our favorite cocktails include “The Frenchie” because, well the name and inclusion of St. Germain, as well as the “Seasalt Cucumber Gimlet” that features muddled cucumbers.
So what about the famous attitude, that also resembles that of South Beach of yore, before they discovered customer service? Well let’s just say it’s always very busy, so you will probably have to wait. Have a reservation? You still might have time to have a drink at the bar before being seated, but that’s not an entirely bad thing. After all, that allows you to take in that every important side of scene.