mid-february, my mom and i took a long weekend in miami which is one of our favorite cities. we try to get away together once a year for some quality bonding time. during our stay i spent my days relaxing poolside at the delano, working on some spring looks using miami’s art deco district as my backdrop, and eating many amazing meals: which is why i couldn’t return to new york without adding something to the ‘food’ tab. i’m a creature of habit, so two out of our four dinners were at places i’d consider ‘old favorites’ – but for the sake of the blog, and my taste buds, i made sure to try two new restaurants. today, the spotlight is on byblos miami.
byblos is situated in the shorecrest building, a part of the royal palm hotel. the minute you enter, you feel like you’ve left south beach behind as your senses tour the most luxurious corners of the middle east, northern africa and the mediterranean. bold, mix-matched ikat prints adorn the chairs, cushions, drapes and pillows. lanterns line the stairways. pops of mosaic catch your eye. every now and then you’ll spot a bit of patterned wallpaper that blends so well you almost didn’t notice it was there. this space was designed with expert perfection, sans kitschiness – without feeling gimmicky – and all the while paying homage to the eclectic mix of cultures that comprise the menu.
we were greeted by a staff that was passionate about educating their guests on the different types of foods offered at byblos. the menu hosts a wide variety of options that are out-of-the-box in comparison to what you’d see at any of my ‘old favorite’ spots. to drink, byblos offers ultra-purified vero water, an eco-friendly bottled water system that produces super filtered, crisp-tasting water in both still and sparkling options. it sounds ridiculous, but this water actually was incredibly delicious. the glass bottles are reusable, and at only $3 per person for an unlimited supply, a restaurant providing vero offers an affordable alternative to pricey bottled water. off the cocktail list, i tried the classic byblos margarita. the mediterranean salt rim was a nice touch, adding subtle flair to an otherwise consistent, traditional marg.
on to the appetizers: mom and i were thrilled with our choices – the lamb ribs basically melted off the bone, and the falafel salad was light and refreshing. at the suggestion of our server and manager georgio, we also tried the spanish octopus which was spiced with a gentle chili vinaigrette and garnished with fingerling potato. in full disclosure, i am not too much of a fish eater…. but wow, wow, wow. for a dish that i would have never ordered on my own, this octopus was to die for.
our main courses were equally delicious. one thing i’d like to say about byblos is that while they use many spices that go against the grain, their food never feels overpowering. my mom, for example, has a more traditional palette – she’s not a big fan of thai or indian cuisine, because there’s just ‘too much going on’…. yet she loved her byblos experience and felt that every dish was flavored just enough, a high praise coming from her! speaking of, she ordered the yogurt baked fluke with a side of roasted brussel sprouts and i opted for the a5 japanese wagyu beef with shaved truffle and a side of hand-rolled couscous flavored with brown butter and saffron. it all felt hearty, authentic, and each dish was really memorable. i sit here writing this nearly two weeks later, and i can almost taste it as i describe everything we ate that night.
as though we needed anything more, we topped off our meal with some coffee and dessert. the strawberry cheesecake qatayef was lovely, but for me the star of the show was the baklava ice cream sandwich, accented by two pizelles that have been smothered in a salted-caramel-couscous praline. yes, you heard that correctly. this dessert is an innovative and culturally relevant twist on a staple that we all know and love, and it did not disappoint.
overall, we loved byblos miami. it’s an outpost of the original toronto location, and is branching out further – with another opening in dubai. if you’re looking for a unique culinary experience with an aesthetic to match, byblos is a top notch option in the miami beach area. many thanks to georgio and the byblos team for hosting us so graciously. i have a feeling i’ll be adding byblos to my list of ‘old favorites’.