De Rodriguez on Ocean
Newsweek magazine titled Douglas Rodriguez of the eponymous De Rodriquez Cuba as ‘one of the 100 Americans who will influence the coming millennium’; a strong endorsement for anyone’s résumé, let alone a chef’s. Now a legitimate South Beach celebrity (and quite the character), chef Douglas Rodriguez has several game-changing properties to his credit, including Ola (see listing), and this dining room on Ocean. Much more narrowly focused than Ola, this restaurant honours its Cuban roots with traditional cuisine elevated to fine dining status. The ropa vieja flatbread is a fine starter, and together with the more refined enchilado lobster or the crispy-skin pork entree ensures you’ll be quite sated by the end of the evening. Plates are presented in an airy but rich-looking room beneath framed black and white portraits and, on one side, by an enormous wine wall. After dinner, on a patio illuminated by hanging lanterns, you can dream of driving a classic sedan along Havana’s Malecón while smoking a cigar chosen from 20 varieties in the restaurant’s humidor.