When it opened almost 65 years ago, the little room off the lobby of a Miami Beach resort was a small hideaway for sipping cocktails. Now, if you can believe it, cocktails aren’t served within these walls (though there’s a bar right outside them). What you’ll find instead is Miami’s newest Michelin-starred restaurant, an intimate, elegant 18-seat spot that serves beautifully imagined modern French cuisine.
Tambourine Room by Tristan Brandt opened in December of 2022 at the Carillon Miami Wellness Resort, and after less than six months in existence it earned a Michelin star earlier this year, becoming the 12th Michelin-starred restaurant in South Florida.
Six months seems an awfully short time in which to prove that a restaurant is Michelin star-worthy. But Brandt has history behind him: He was head chef at Opus V restaurant in Mannheim, Germany, in 2013, when the restaurant earned two Michelin stars, and in 2022 his restaurant Epoca by Tristan Brandt in Switzerland also earned a Michelin star.
“We wanted to show Miami something new,” he told the Miami Herald when the restaurant opened. “It’s always a challenge for me to surprise our guests with different tastes.”
Surprises — the pleasant kind — are what makes dining at The Tambourine Room such a delight. Brandt’s dishes are colorful, creative, playful while still retaining the glow of painstaking expertise. They look like miniature works of abstract art and taste even better. Sometimes, there is foam involved.
And though most dishes are presented on simple white plates, you’ll remember the presentation with as much of a thrill as you will the food itself.
You can’t sip a cocktail with your meal
Brandt believes that his tasting menus are best experienced with wine, so the restaurant only serves wine. After trying a wine pairing, we’d have to say he’s onto something here. The wine choices are surprising and inspired — one course comes with sake, which is unexpected — and obviously chosen with care. You can also order wine by the bottle or bring your own bottle if you don’t mind paying a whopping $75 corkage fee.
If you can’t get through the evening without a cocktail, arrive early and have a drink at the Carillon’s lobby bar right outside the restaurant or grab a nightcap there on your way out.
What to order
Welcome to the easiest part of your dining adventure. All you need to do is decide whether you want to try the three-course menu or the six-course menu. After that, it’s up to the chef.
The Tambourine Room does offer vegetarian options for every menu item, but that’s about as far as your choices go. There are no options for gluten-free, nut, vegan, kosher, or dairy-free dishes. Like all tasting menus, the menu here requires an open mind and the desire for culinary discovery and is probably not the place to be if what you eat is restricted.
How it begins
Before you even get to the main dinner course — we opted for the six course menu because who wouldn’t? — Tambourine Room has a couple of treats for you: a series of tiny amuse bouches, which includes a hidden stash of curry-and-sugar pecans, then a larger “golden egg” wrapped in real gold.
If you’re the sort of person who enjoys the social media aspect of it all, get your phone ready. The sublime bite of oxtail is served atop a bowl of smoke just waiting for you to put your filters to work.
And don’t worry — your server will guide you through the order in which you should eat them.
The Golden Egg is topped with caviar, surrounded by Parmesan foam and accented with cauliflower. It’s entirely possible this is the best thing on the menu, though fortunately you will not be required to choose.
Tambourine Room courses come with little explanation, each described simply by its main ingredients: Ceviche | Avocado | Mango, say, or Beetroot | Coffee | Citrus. Main courses in the spring menu, which is now being served, include veal, Ora King salmon and guinea fowl, all prepared in ways you have almost certainly never tasted before.
If you want to know more, don’t hesitate to ask the knowledgeable and first-rate servers for more detail. They’ll happily provide it.
At some point, you’ll be served a small round loaf of bread. Save it to mop up various foams and sauces.
Pre dessert, dessert and post dessert
Dessert is next level at Tambourine Room. We’d tell you to save room for it, but there’s no way you left anything on your plate up until now, so all you can do is forge ahead.
The spring menu dessert involves rhubarb and raspberry and elderflower, but there’s a pre-dessert of pineapple, passionfruit and coconut before you even get to the main event. Afterward, you can choose from a series of bite-sized petits fours. No, you don’t need any more sweets, but who among us is strong enough to refuse?