The Cafe at the Pelican Hotel
826 Ocean Drive, South Beach
The Pelican Hotel exudes cool. How can it not? It’s the only hotel in the world owned and operated by Diesel, the apparel company. The brand’s quirky vintage aesthetic combined with a refined trend radar make it a welcome attraction to the relaxed South Beach hipsters that feel at home at the Hotel’s casual cafe.
Interesting door handles are one thing, quality food is another. While there are a plethora of restaurants from which to choose on the Ocean Drive strip, the Pelican distinguishes itself with earnestly good food, purity of ingredients and a penchant for bold flavors. The kitchen is helmed by Chef Stefano Zen, who mingles Mediterranean cuisine with Italian gestures in an effort to highlight the best of both worlds. A normally pedestrian Caprese salad is given upscale treatment with milky mozzarella, ripe tomatoes and snappy basil. The seared tuna salad is a melange of moist fish, crisp endive, kalamata olives and hearts of palm. Several of the Pelican’s pasta dishes are homemade, including the standout spinach-ricotta ravioli nestled in a parmesan cream sauce flecked with mint.
For those who judge the quality of a restaurant based on its french fries, the Pelican’s rustic wedges do not disappoint. With just the right amount of salt and crunch, they were a refreshing change from the usual shoestrings. The Pelican’s outdoor porch is nestled comfortably above the fray of Ocean Drive, though the indoor dining room features much of the hotel’s inventive decor. One thing is for certain, the chocolate cake at the Pelican goes best with a view of the beach and the scoop of vanilla ice cream that accompanies it.