We took a daytrip to Miami Beach – and checked out the lovely Setai.
The crowd: Slow in the afternoon at this gorgeous lobby bar where the lighting and guests got prettier the later it got. We were there during a fashion show and set-up was going on, but the crowd was friendly and chic, professional types and those into fashion. 20s to 60s age group sipped and chatted.
Surrounds: A metro cosmopolitan feel, with Asian backdrop. Two story ceilings support the back wall of wine bins, accessible from a rolling library ladder, which saw action while we were at the bar. The bar faces the Zen-like courtyard, a maze of Asian inspired block seating and low square water features. Done in blacks, dark woods and a gorgeous pearl bartop; it’s lit by wall sconces and long drop tubes hanging over the bar. Comfy padded swivel stools (though not enough of them).
Barback:.All the bartenders were attentive, friendly and helpful at suggesting sips. Ask for Phillip – he has created some of the cocktails.
The sips:.The best cocktails we’ve tasted in a very long while. Signature is the Chili Passion – a passionfruit-vanilla mix spiced with hot chilis. Not too spicy – but it does pack heat if you let it sit. An all-time favorite is the Rhubarb Stringer – rhubarb puree, with a an almost creamy finish, strawberries, a whiff of basil – a variety of infusions and herbs. Singularly, it was one of the most delicious cocktails I’ve ever had. With the bar foods – delightful. Not cheap at $15-$18. But you will remember this drink for a long while – when’s the last one you can really get excited about? The Zen, with tea infusion and lemongrass, was a tart counterpoint. Lovely.
The noshes: We liked the hamachi the best – sashimi cut yellowtail, marinated in yuzu, set on avocado slices, mango slivers and garnished with microherbs. A perfectly round thin disk of fresh hearts of palm sat under it – tremendous. I loved the wok lobster and veggies bowl – my partner wasn’t as impressed. But the crunchy vegetables, lobster pieces and subtle coconut milk curry won me.
Tunes or noise: The beat got stronger as the night went on; still, it wasn’t the thumpy base that rattles the glasses-loud. Nice and vibrant.
Rating: 5 out of 5 olives.
Sidenotes: Park in the meters south side of the hotel: valet is $25.
- 2001 Collins Ave., Miami Beach
- 305-520-6000; setai.com