Miami's iconic Delano South Beach Hotel kicks back with an outdoor grill and refined Argentinian/Japanese cuisine with its new eatery, Leynia.
The churrasco skirt steak is slathered with chimichurri for the finishing touch.
Sizzling on the grates of a sizeable grill are thick steaks, whole branzino and red onions fat as softballs. A chorus line of brined organic chickens and house-made sausages dangle from a rod above, slowly absorbing smoke that rises from glowing hickory logs. “It’s like home cooking,” enthuses José Icardi, executive chef of the new Argentinian/Japanese restaurant Leynia, “except at the Delano.”
This may seem a bit antithetical to so iconic a hotel. After all, since the Delano relaunched in 1994 (and redefined South Beach in the process), its restaurants—from the Madonnapartnered Blue Door to the Italian Bianca—have been luxe affairs set in a sumptuous dining area (now the Doheny Room lounge). Leynia, which debuted in March, has moved the action outdoors to the picturesque terrace, which boasts a new bar, garden seating and a lengthy rectangular chef’s table angled near the grill, which Chef Icardi describes as “the most popular seats in the house.”
Chef José Icardi cooking meat a la Leña on the wood-fired grill.
“I want people to feel welcome,” explains Icardi, who previously garnered acclaim at Katsuya. “The price point is affordable for everyone,” he says. And sometimes guests can simply share empanadas and beers, which doesn’t seem unreasonable once you taste the carne empanada, the pastry gushing with cantimpalo sausage and braised short rib and brightly garnished with pickled apple. Other street foods from the chef’s youth adorn the menu and come laced with contemporary touches, like grilled provoleta (aged provolone cheese) with pickled baby pear and grilled chorizo atop a bracing fennel salad.
Of course, many diners treat Leynia as they would any fine steakhouse or Asian restaurant, beginning their meals with refined offerings such as sashimi, sushi rolls, hamachi tiradito or crisped crêpe cones filled with cold-smoked salmon, fresh wasabi and caviar. There’s also a terrific kabocha squash salad with baby arugula and goat cheese. “Something for everyone,” says the chef of dinner and the restaurant’s bodacious Sunday brunch.
Branzino al Disco dish.
That “something” usually includes one of Leynia’s assertively grilled, juicy steaks, all served on mini-hibachis with hickory charcoal inside, “so you smell the smoke at the table.” Cuts include a New York strip, a prodigious 32-ounce bone-in “gaucho” ribeye and the classic churrasco skirt steak slathered with chimichurri— an Icardi recipe from their Sunday backyard barbecues (asado) in the Ramos Mejía neighborhood of Buenos Aires, where a young José would stand next to his father as he cooked.
Branzino tastes great off the grates, too, as do sweet-as-candy carrots, and charred sweet potatoes lifted by honeycomb and goat cheese. If you have room for just one dessert, make it Corazón Derretido, which consists of heart-shaped layers of dulce de leche, peach compote and white chocolate ice cream.
The dining room at Leynia is decorated with plush floor-to-ceiling curtains.
Dynamic Latin American flavors also flow through the beverage program, headed by Chris Rolon. The gin and grapefruit tonic infused with housemade yerba mate syrup is revelatory with ingredients freshly imported from Argentina.
Ingredients for the lemon-Champagne sorbet, created tableside with blasts of liquid nitrogen, get wheeled to diners in a bicycle—a vehicle used to vend comestibles through the narrow streets of Ramos Mejía. “The first food trucks,” jokes Icardi. He pauses, then adds, “The smells and the flavors of Leynia remind me of where I come from.” If this were a scratch-and-sniff article, it would remind you to always dine here. 1685 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, 305.672.2000, morganshotelgroup.com