Saturday, January 31, 2015

All-In at the Astor

Look, we don't know how they did it, but yeah, they did


Ten days.

That's how much time chef 
Carlos Nevarez had to hire a staff, create a menu, and generally knock it out of the park at the new Downstairs at Hotel Astor.

Nevarez took over at the Astor after the first chef hired for the new restaurant headed for the door. Which makes what he has put together already so damn surprising. 

To start with, he would be inheriting one cool spot. It's all long couches against the wall, and then tables under disco balls in the center. Back in the bar, the Astor is going for an old-school cocktail theme at happy hour, and then they break out the DJ booth late night.

The menu is a whole lot less disco.

subtlety, mostly, like a lobster consommé with a broth so richly of the sea that you'll start speaking with a Maine accent. Little details, like the crazy-crispy skin on the snapper or what-the-deuce-is-in-it sauce on the cod, makes it clear this guy knows how to cook.

Sure, this subterranean lair has been many things, most recently the departed popup Drinking Room.

But in 10 days, it seems like the Astor has come up with something that should be around for a while.

The Downstairs at Hotel Astor
956 Washington Ave., South Beach

Price: 3 (out of 4)
Noise: 3 (out of 4)
Parking: Valet; street.
Scene: A South Beach-chic dining spot turns into a DJ-driven late-night cocktail bar.
Best bets: Funky Buddha brews; Lobster 
consommé; Banana bread
Hot seat: 
Grab a table by the garden early on, and then grab a barstool before the crowd arrives.
Nearby: Radio; Delancey's; Broken Shaker

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