The Delano, which opened in 1947 and is now a part of hotelier megastar Morgans Hotel Group, is responsible for influencing the popularity of boutique hotels in South Beach, catering to celebrities, socialites and tastemakers from around the world for decades. However, I’ve typically found that hotel dining, no matter how infamous its clientele, is unremarkable, marked by fare that’s bland in flavor and deflated in whimsy, ambiance beset by corporate décor, and a crowd comprised of tourists, weary businessmen (and women), and the poor souls who simply didn’t know to make reservations somewhere else. So when it came time to pay a visit to the newly-opened Bianca inside the walls of this storied manse, you can rest assured that my expectations hovered low on the totem pole. As it turns out, my epicureous friends, Bianca delivers standards that are as high as the South Beach skyline.
As its name implies, the interior of Bianca is white, white, white—think twinkling crystal chandeliers that cast just the right amount of light when the sun goes down; Deco-inspired leather seating; and cool linen curtains drawn back to reveal the Miami coastline—with natural touches, like driftwood sculptures and organically-shaped mirrors. Depending upon your preferences, you could find it as a cool reprieve from the bright lights of Miami nights, or entirely washed out and a bit uninspiring (we leaned toward the latter).
The humidity in Miami is a force to be reckoned with; despite this, we took our chances and dined on Bianca’s outdoor veranda, sitting amidst palm trees and an attractive, sophisticated-looking crowd. Its first test: the bread basket, filled with chewy, crusty baguettes that remained chewy, crusty and perfect throughout our meal. Once we were done marveling over carbohydrates, we moved on to a few small plates: salmon carpaccio, served with a petite frisée salad, preserved lemon and capers; grilled octopus, with sweet cherry tomatoes and Modena balsamic; and an heirloom tomato salad served atop goat cheese, basil and a balsamic creme. The carpaccio was pretty standard, and the tomato salad was on the salty side, but the octopus was impeccable—just gamey enough and grilled to perfection.
Our second course included a creamy burrata with prosciutto, decadent enough for sharing and devoured with the rest of the baguettes, and we opted to bypass dessert in favor of chilled tequila and another half hour of conversation in the warm open air. The Delano is decidedly back—and we will be, too.