Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Pied a Terre at the Cadet Hotel

Elegant Splendor at Pied a Terre
Cozy and Captivating
It's always exciting to come across a true hidden gem; the kind you've never heard of and would rarely come across without a good pointing to. Such was the case for me very recently when I discovered Pied a Terre at the charming, timeless boutique hotel in South Beach: the Cadet Hotel.


Have a relaxing drink
Seeing the magic unfold
It would be impossible to talk about the magnificent food at Pied a Terre without first paying a bit of tribute to the hotel itself. Built in 1941, the Cadet Hotel has been a historical timekeeper located at 1701 James Avenue, since World War II. Initially built as a luxury hotel, it was used after the attack on Pearl Harbor, as a place for cadets to stay during the war. While most hotels in Miami Beach served the same purpose throughout this time, for some reason the Cadet left a significant mark and somehow kept that graceful elegance and magical aura synonymous with those years.

Dedicated visionary Dr. Vilma Biaggi

The cocktails were a work of art

Clark Gable
The Clark Gable Suite
Breast cancer specialist, Dr. Vilma Biaggi fell in love with the place close to 30 years ago. She made it her mission to restore the Cadet, adding special touches and antique details from around the world to every corner; ultimately creating a welcoming, homey ambiance that could be felt throughout. Being as hands-on as she is, she came across some old photographs in a crawl space at the hotel, while assisting during the renovation, and made those memories an integral part of the decor. Of course the hotel had one very famous cadet stay there during his Army training in the 1940's, more specifically in Room 224, and that was the legendary Clark Gable, most notoriously known for his performance in Gone With the Wind. Step into this suite, and feel like you're suspended in time, inhaling the subtle scents of lavender and the ocean breeze while traveling through an unforgettable era marked by romantic stories and heartfelt tales.

Outside Gardens
Oh how I would enjoy this...
The vibe and alluring decor don't stop there but continue through the lobby, gardens and the hotel's cozy restaurant, Pied a Terre. An ode to authentic French cuisine, the restaurant takes pride in offering over 256 award-winning wines especially selected by their talented and knowledgeable sommelier, Patrick, along with a tailored menu created by chefs from 2 and 3 Michelin-starred restaurants in France. Dr. Biaggi hand selects and invites these chefs, who come to the United States two or three times a year, create their sensual magic and then woo guests with a French seduction to the palate. I had the opportunity to experience that mystical moment for myself and I was transfixed.

Hand-painted plates 

Duo of Hudson Valley Foie Gras
Amuse Bouche
Sitting outdoors, across the glistening pool, in front of beautiful plates hand-painted by Dr. Biaggi's patients, I looked over the dinner menu and decided to start with the Duo of Hudson Valley Foie Gras. While we waited, the chef prepared an Amuse-Bouche that awakened the taste buds in preparation for the memorable feast to come. Both were superb. The Duo of Foie Grass was a warm and cold combination of the delicacy I had never had the pleasure of sampling quite that way before. The cold terrine was creamy and flavorful and served with a sweet chutney, while the warm bon bon was pan seared. For an entree, I decided on an original creation of Lobster, infused with French-Asian flavors that left a tingling sensation in my mouth.

Lobster French-Asian Flavors

Quinoa Salad

Valhrona and Chocolate Fondant
Chocolate Mousse
The dishes around us all looked spectacular and the presentation was detailed and well-thought out. After the savory part of the meal, we were lured with the promise of a sweet finale that didn't disappoint. I had a Valhrona and Chocolate Fondant, that was both decadent and a work of art, served with tuille and vanilla ice-cream, while I noticed a parade of other delights making my dining companions ooh and aah with every spoonful.

Dr. Biaggi playing the piano for us
The Cadet Hotel is a beautiful piece of history in Miami Beach that envelopes its guests in a relaxing ambiance so different from the hustle and bustle of SoBe. And be sure, at any point in time, you might run into Dr. Biaggi playing the piano for her guests. If you haven't been there, or had the pleasure of enjoying a magical meal at Pied a Terre, I highly recommend you do. For more information, you can visit their website at http://www.cadethotel.com.

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