When we heard that celebrity chef Alex Guarnaschelli was opening a restaurant in Miami Beach, we were ecstatic. With a culinary resume like hers, we knew the 305 would be in for a treat once Driftwood Room opened its doors. But while we expected some stellar food, we weren’t prepared for this level of awesomeness.
Driftwood Room takes diners on a European adventure with Mediterranean cuisine that uses fresh Florida ingredients. There’s not a bad seat in the house: The 200-seat restaurant features an expansive terrace ideal for a romantic evening while the intimate dining room makes for a fun dinner with friends. A fun and delicious dinner.
On the menu, you’ll find shareable bites along with salads, mains and sides. When we say shareable bites, we mean shareable bites. Our experience with small plates has been on the nose; small means small. Here at Driftwood, that’s not the case. What you’ll find under the Share section are hearty portions. Take the herb-crusted prime lamb kebobs, for instance. One skewer is enough for two people. Granted, they taste so good that you’ll want another one just for yourself, but that’s besides the point. Speaking of the kebob: The moment you bite in, you know it’s good, especially with the chermoula spice rub, candied oranges and accompanying sauces.
Our other starter — the lemon fish crudo — covered the bases on the other side of the flavor spectrum. Citrusy, fresh and bright with plump and juicy fish, this unassuming dish quickly became a favorite of ours. That simplicity was a recurring theme throughout the night. On paper, the dishes don’t sound complex. But looks are deceiving — each bite we took throughout the night tickled our taste buds. A prime example: the branzino. This fish, prepared with just olive oil, salt and lemon, was swimming in flavor. Flaky with a slightly charred taste, the fish literally made us yell exclamatory expletives at first bite.
Don’t get us started on the butter-poached lobster with baby spinach and coconut palm — SO MUCH LOBSTER MEAT. Seriously, the tails were super meaty. And the butter drenched pieces of lobster melted in our mouths. We can see why our server was adamant about us getting it. Even the sides were memorable: deliciously salted fries, and broccoli with a hint of vinegar and roasted grapes.
We can’t mention enough how big these portions are. You truly are getting your money’s worth here. The food is so plentiful, especially for the price. And that holds true for the final part of our meal: the decadent desserts. The passion fruit donuts are made to order and ooze with passion fruit cream. We could literally hear the cream saying, “Fuck your diet” as it spilled out. Not in the mood for something so rich? We encourage you to opt for the Florida mango carpaccio, which is as intriguing as its name. It’s a lighter, not-too-sweet bite that’s perfect after such a fanciful feast.
Driftwood Room is a welcome addition to Miami Beach. Reasonable prices and quality food are not mutually exclusive — Driftwood Room has made sure of that. We’re looking forward to going back very soon.