Eat & Drink: Caviar Cravings

by Pamela Robin Brandt

Even in self-indulgent South Beach, the opening of Caviar Creator Lounge, at Casa Casuarina (the former Versace Mansion), was over the top. At a sculpted ice bar in back of Casa’s opulent central courtyard, chef Wolfgang Birk loaded the backs of guests’ hands with roughly two ounces of genuine sturgeon caviar– about $200 worth at current market prices. The idea was to sort of lip the mini-mountain of “black gold” off the backside of your hand… and head back for much, much more.

It was proof that with truly excellent caviar, no accompaniment is necessary (except maybe, considering the amounts consumed, a really hot date; caviar’s considered an aphrodisiac). But the Caviar Lounge’s normal menu is also full of more complex temptations– like a $35 plate of Russian sturgeon fritters with Peruvian-spiced cilantro cream, salmon roe, and farmed osetra caviar. Personally, I inhaled nearly enough of the stuff to finance Casa Casuarina’s $50,000 membership fee.

Which, since the Casa’s a private club not open to the public, would normally be necessary, to experience the Caviar Lounge. But there’s a loophole for those booking one of the mansion’s 10 suites through Leading Small Hotels of the World [1-800-745-8883]. With room rates running $1200-5000 per night, it’s admittedly a pretty stiff, if supremely sensual, sturgeon snack.

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