December 06, 2011

The Rusty Pelican: Revitalized Legendary Venue Opens

Miami Mainstay Makes Anticipated Debut with New Chef, Menu, Décor, Lounge, Events

Just in time to celebrate its 40th birthday and after a five-month, $7 million head-to-toe renovation, Miami’s landmark dining and special event destination, The Rusty Pelican, opens the doors to its newly transformed space on Monday, December 12, 2011. Known for its breathtaking views, this waterfront icon nestled on Key Biscayne re-emerges as a contemporary yet comfortable hotspot featuring a total modernization of everything from the menu and décor to the lounge and special event spaces. Revered locally for his South Florida savvy and culinary creativity, executive chef Michael Gilligan ups the ante with a menu that centers on innovative Modern American cuisine and an eye towards small plates ideal for sharing. Locals and tourists alike have enjoyed countless moments and myriad special events at The Rusty Pelican since the venue’s 1972 opening. Revamped and reopened, new memories will abound every night of the week whether for a momentous occasion, a business lunch, night out on the town or fun family dinner including upcoming Christmas and New Year’s celebrations.

“With the highly-anticipated transformation complete, we’re thrilled to finally welcome back our loyal guests and also excited to witness a new generation of diners enjoy their first moments in a beautiful space where the food and vibe truly match the view,” said John Tallichet, president and CEO of Specialty Restaurants Corporation (SRC), owners and operators of The Rusty Pelican. “We appreciate the unwavering support of the local community and look forward to being a leader in Miami’s culinary community for years to come.”

The updated culinary program celebrates the best of South Florida’s bounty with a versatile Modern American menu that highlights the freshest seafood, locally sourced vegetables and grilled meats. Guaranteed to satisfy all cravings, Chef Gilligan’s artfully designed dishes include diverse Small Plates, composed Entrees and hearty Classics From the Grill, all with offerings from the sea, land and garden.

With more than 20 mix-and-match options, Small Plates are perfect for sharing. Starting at $8, offerings From the Sea include Chilled Coconut Shrimp with “Cotton Candy,” Lobster Crudo with piquillo peppers and Key lime dressing, Sea Scallop Tiradito with fresh fruit juices and scotch bonnet peppers, Maki including The Rusty Spider Roll and Bagel Roll, and nine fresh offerings of Sashimi and Nigiri at market price. From the Land items (starting at $8) include Eel & Foie Gras with Tostones and Soy-Truffle Glaze, Steak Tartare DIY with traditional accompaniments and a quail egg, Pork Belly Skewer with caramelized apples and blood orange balsamic reduction, and Foie Gras & Goat Cheese Empanadas with sherry vinegar paint. In addition to the All-American Cheese Plate featuring four distinct cheeses from Vermont to California, signature salads. From the Garden (starting at $9) include The Rusty with Heirloom Tomatoes, Hearts of Palm, Avocado, Mache, Lotus Root Chips, and Vanilla-Jalapeno Vinaigrette; The Pelican with Mesclun Greens, Teardrop Tomatoes, Fried Plantains, and Grain Mustard Aioli; as well as the Baby Goat Cheese Salad with Golden Baby Beets, Balsamic-Beet Jelly, Baby Arugula, and Passion Fruit Dressing. Silky and comforting Soups (starting at $9) include Tableside Poured Bouillabaise - with Miami’s freshest seafood - and toasted corn relish as well as Wild Mushroom Cappuccino with porcini dust and truffle froth.

All made with Chef Gilligan’s unique touch, Entrees at The Rusty Pelican offer an array of meat, seafood, and pasta options. Starting at $28, From the Sea menu items include Crispy Whole Fried Snapper with udon noodles and soy-honey sauce, Baked Salmon Roulade with sweet water prawns and braised leek fondue, and Pan Seared Sea Scallops with saffron risotto cakes and sweet eggplant. From the Land (starting at $24) include Duck Fat Fried Colorado Lamb Loin wrapped in phyllo pastry and served with sweet potato puree and mint jus; Grilled Filet Mignon with Smashed Plantains, Pork Belly & Pee-Wee Potato Hash, and cabernet reduction; and Poached Duck Breast with Swiss chard, parsnips, cracklin’ and chanterelles. From the Garden includes pastas starting at $17 like Wild Mushroom Ravioli with shaved truffles and porcini-sage essence. Served with two sides, Classics From the Grill (starting at $34) include 8oz Filet Mignon, 12oz New York Strip, 16oz Bone-In Ribeye, Maine or Florida Lobster Tail, and Giant Shrimp.

With an overall menu similar to dinner, unique Lunch offerings include Sandwiches (starting at $14) such as The Biscayne Burger, a delicious take on the classic served on a brioche bun; Far East Chicken Burger with sweet chili mayo and Asian Slaw; The Rusty Pelican Club, made with oven roasted chicken and pork belly; and The Lobster Salad Roll, classic and creamy with a celery crunch. The Rusty Pelican’s Kid’s Menu features seven scrumptious entrée choices each served with a tasty side, beverage, and 100% Fruit Popsicle – all for $9.

Led by nationally renowned California-based Hatch Design Group, The Rusty Pelican redesign boasts a charismatic new look: contemporary and modernist yet still warm and approachable. The main dining room embraces casual décor with 60’s style custom furnishings, lots of wood, eclectic lamps, an earth tone color palette and floor-to-ceiling windows offering expansive views of Miami’s skyline. The transformation of the rustic patio area and the interior bar into a chic indoor/outdoor lounge with space for some 200 guests combined, creates a lively new bar and lounge scene with endless libations, stylish low-slung couches and a VIP room perfect for private dining and bottle service.

The revamped beverage program will include a showcase wine cellar with 1,500 carefully culled vintages, a variety of microbrews, and creative signature cocktails ($10-$13) including Biscayne Julep, Virginia Key Punch, Strawberry Mule, Agave Sunset, and Gold Ginger. A weekday Happy Hour unfolds in the lounge from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, with wallet friendly bar bites ($5-$9) including Spicy Tuna Roll, Baked Crab Cake, Rusty Mickey D Slider, Avocado Fries and Sea Scallop Tiradito as well a specially priced selection of selected bottled beers ($3), well drinks and featured wines ($5), house martinis, margaritas and mojitos ($7), and signature cocktails ($9).

The restaurant experience stands confidently on its own apart from the elegant second floor special event facilities, which now include a fabulous outdoor terrace, a separate entry, and bridal rooms. With flexible options from intimate gatherings and buzzy cocktail parties to formal seated weddings and refined corporate functions, events can accommodate 500+ people in the convertible ballroom space beautifully updated with new furnishings and treatments that feature subtle color scheme and rich textures to showcase the unparalleled waterfront location.

A well-regarded fixture on South Florida’s dining scene, Chef Michael Gilligan, 43, helms the culinary program after most recently serving as executive chef for the W South Beach Hotel & Residences. There, he oversaw food and beverage operations including the signature Spanish restaurant, Solea. Born and raised in England, Gilligan honed his skills as an apprentice chef at Michelin Star restaurants in France and England before holding high-profile positions at top restaurants in New York including: Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Grill and Montrachet and in Florida at Miami celebrity-magnet Rumi and the Conrad Miami. He has also owned and operated two of his own restaurants including the critically-acclaimed Candela in New York, awarded two stars by The New York Times. Industry and company veteran Peter Knezevic, who successfully managed the Rusty Pelican’s Florida transformation, serves as Managing Director, ensuring top-notch hospitality and a steadfast focus on superb cuisine and service.

Located at 3201 Rickenbacker Causeway in Key Biscayne, Florida. The Rusty Pelican will serve lunch and dinner daily upon opening in December with brunch starting at a later date. Hours of operation: Sunday to Thursday (opens 11 a.m., dining room closes 11 p.m. and bar at midnight); Friday and Saturday (opens 11 a.m., dining room closes at midnight and bar at 1 a.m.). The Rusty Pelican is on Facebook and Twitter. Telephone: (305) 361-3818;

About Specialty Restaurants Corporation (SRC)

SRC, founded in 1958 by World War II veteran, David Tallichet, has been an industry leader for more than 50 years with a portfolio of 22 award-winning restaurants throughout the United States, including distinguished brands like Orange Hill in Orange County, California, the Castaway in Burbank and countless others. Other Florida locations include Miami’s 94th Aero Squadron and two Tampa restaurants, The Rusty Pelican Tampa, and Whiskey Joe’s Bar and Grill. All of SRC’s restaurants are in beautifully appointed locations that offer breathtaking panoramic views of city skylines, waterfronts or airports. Renowned for their extensive special events capabilities, SRC restaurants are well suited for a variety of events, from an intimate casual dinner for two to a corporate retreat or an elegant dream wedding.

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