Michelin-Starred Chef Thomas Keller On His Florida Debut At The Iconic Surf Club

Thomas KellerPhoto Credit: Deborah Jones

Distinguished chef Thomas Keller is undoubtedly one of the greatest culinary masterminds in the world. Earning a total of seven of the prestigious Michelin Stars—three at New York’s Per Se, three at French Laundry and one at Bouchon—he puts indisputable craft, precision and excellence in each of his projects. With 10+ world-famous eateries in Yountville, New York and Las Vegas, Keller is finally making his Florida debut at the iconic Surf Club property.

Keller’s restaurant will serve as the signature restaurant of the Surf Club property, entitled The Surf Club Restaurant by Thomas Keller. The partnership between Keller and the reimagined Surf Club is extremely fitting. The Surf Club is one of Miami’s most beloved and historic locations that was known for drawing in A-listers like the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Elizabeth Taylor, General Douglas MacArthurTony Bennett, Frank Sinatra and Winston Churchill during its prime in the 1930s. The property recently underwent an extraordinary renovation to reinvent and restore the iconic property with a powerful and dynamic development and design team including Fort Partners’ Nadim Ashi and one of the world’s most illustrious designers, Richard Meier. 

Although Keller is in fact from the sunshine state, he has waited until now to open one of his coveted dining destinations in the area. Here, Haute Living sits down with the Keller to find out why now, what makes the location so unique, menu highlights and more in anticipation of the exciting upcoming opening.

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Lobster Thermidor

Photo Credit: Deborah Jones

Why was this the right project to mark your first Florida restaurant?

When I first visited The Surf Club property with Nadim Ashi, I was immediately transported to an iconic time in history—the Jet-Set Era—and I knew this was a project I wanted to be part of.

How will the cuisine and design embody the rich history of the Surf Club?

The Surf Club Restaurant is inspired by the grandeur of a bygone era, and we’ll be honoring the location’s history of good times and grand parties. Our menu will interpret classic Continental cuisine for a modern audience—think dishes like Lobster Thermidor, Avocado Louis and a Caesar Salad prepared tableside. We’ll give our guests a dining experience that mirrors the effortless, easygoing Golden Era of the ’50s and ’60s. The elegant aesthetic of the restaurant’s décor will make the setting as memorable as the food.

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Iceberg Wedge

Photo Credit: Deborah Jones

How will the Surf Club Restaurant distinguish itself in the Miami food scene?

Our goal is to pay homage to the property’s history in Miami’s social scene, and the cuisine of The Surf Club Restaurant is inspired by the mid-century American ideal of Old World ambiance. There’s nothing like it in Miami, and the setting in this historic landmark is perfect for the lively, fun atmosphere we’re creating. I am very excited about this concept and will bring it to Hudson Yards in New York when TAK Room opens next spring.

How often will the menu change? 

We have a set à la carte menu with daily specials.

Highlights of the menu? 

My personal favorite menu item is the Roasted Chicken. It’s a timeless dish and a must-have on a menu that is inspired by classic, Continental cuisine. We also have wonderful seafood on the menu—from a delicious Dover Sole to fresh Oysters. Our desserts will include Lemon Tart and Chocolate Soufflé, that are delicious and comforting and so good, guests will order them time and time again.

How will you incorporate the relaxed, beachside atmosphere into the dining experience?

In curating the menu, we wanted to be sure to call to mind our location as a resort destination—we’re honoring the leisure culture of decades past in every facet of the restaurant. Martin Brudnizki has incorporated the spirit of Miami as a reference point when designing the restaurant, as bold terrazzo flooring floods the entire restaurant, which with the addition of lush planting native to the region, ensures the restaurant and especially the terrace feel rooted to the locality. Additionally, our team will be bringing their own vast knowledge of Miami and culture to our guests.

What are you most excited about debuting with this new project?

Being a part of The Surf Club property both because of its history, but also because of the way Nadim and Fort Partners have reimagined it today. It’s very exciting for me and our team.

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Crab Cake

Photo Credit: Deborah Jones

Numériser 3 MAR13 Thomas KellerPhoto Credit: The Surf Club Numériser 1 MAR13 Thomas KellerPhoto Credit: The Surf Club