Something for All

BY Jen Karetnick | February 21, 2018 | Feature Features

At The Strand Bar & Grill, executive chef Stephen Ullrich does right by both picky eaters and all-or-nothing gourmands.
The Strand Bar & Grill's dining room just before the lunch rush

When it comes to catering to special diets, Miami’s fine-dining chefs usually take an uncompromising approach. It’s either open a plant-based, raw or gluten-free restaurant, or pretend that your diners can and will eat everything and refuse to make menu substitutions. Neither way is ideal.

Enter The Strand Bar & Grill at the sumptuously renovated Carillon Miami Wellness Resort and discover the third approach: subtle compromise. While the resort, which tags itself the “luxury of wellness,” boasts the largest spa in the region, at 70,000 square feet—in addition to an integrative medical wellness center—Strand diners don’t get calorie counts on the menu à la Canyon Ranch. Executive chef and Miami native Stephen Ullrich doesn’t belabor the sourcing of each ingredient from local organic farms on the menu (although they are). The service staff doesn’t lecture you on the complex processes of how the dishes and cocktails—which boast names such as A Beet Up Mule and Gin It to Win It—are created in order to retain all the benefits of their vitamins and antioxidants (although they do).

Instead, once you’re seated in the large dining room, where the natural hues of a sunny beach day are superimposed onto the golden wood of the tables and the blue of the banquettes, the waitstaff will quietly inquire if anyone at the table has an allergy and respond accordingly. That means celiacs won’t be dismissed as if they’re simply trying the patience of the chef and management, but instead brought their own separate basket of (very good) gluten-free bread with French butter without having to request it. Even the amuse-bouche will be adjusted if necessary; one evening, a canapé of salmon tartare with crème fraîche was brought for a gluten-averse companion on a corn chip instead of lavash—a nice touch for sure.

Likewise, gluten-free and vegetarian options are marked throughout the menu with symbols. But there’s such a plethora of sumptuous dishes—caviar pie, soft-poached egg with lobster and mushrooms, roasted foie gras with apple soubise, and even a preparation for two of oxtail and bone marrow Wellington—even hardcore carnivores won’t notice this something-for-everyone approach.

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