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At last we now know where to find Chef Philippe Ruiz, now Executive Chef at Fresh American Bistro (F.A.B.), a casually refined American Bistro – first opened by Chef Ralph Pagano – at Sole on the Ocean and Spa, in Sunny Isles Beach, right across the strip mall that houses Timo, Basil Park and other known restaurants.

The jazzy 90-seats indoor/outdoor bistro, recently renovated by Stéphane Dupoux (credited with developing Buddha Bar, Nikki Beach and Seasalt and Pepper) with a prominent bar and a 40-seats wrap-around patio with a fire pit to cuddle around, overlooks  the hotel pool, the beach and the surf. Enough to remind you why you're in South Florida and to make you forget the world around you.

The venue is as far from the formal settings where we are accustomed to see chef Ruiz work, as is the eclectic menu of American classics prepared with, as its name indicates, seasonal and fresh products from local farms, fisheries, and artisan producers.  

There is something for every taste but there are no surprises.  The staff is enthusiastic about everything on the menu, from the homemade bread which comes to the table still warm next to a tapenade spread, and the ceviche amuse in bamboo cups, to the rest of the offering.

For starters there’s a Fresh Bar listing oysters (6 for $18) accompanied by delicious mignonette and cocktail sauces, and  jumbo and colossal stone crab claws (M/P). The seafood appetizers – a nod to chef Ruiz’s French training – are large enough for sharing, like the marinated smoked scallops ($15) with endive salad tossed with toasted seeds and shallot vinaigrette; the Ahi tuna ‘cannelloni’ ($16), an Asian-Italian 'fusion' creation consisting of a thick strip of toro encased in a thin fried wrapping of sliced zucchini and eggplant over a spicy tomato and basil coulis and a trinity of tartars ($16): ahi tuna with hearts of palm, beef tartare with crispy potatoes and scallop and crab with mango relish and tomato coulis.

Given the fact that this is bikini town, there are few carbs on the menu other than the flatbreads ($12 - $15) – not as flat as they ought to be – with toppings like roasted tomatoes and Pecorino cheese; caramelized onions, bacon and sour cream; short ribs with tomato and mozzarella and Fontina cheese with truffle.

The salads ($11 - $12) cover the rainbow of seasonal veggies: classic Caesar; the quintessentially American Sliced Wedge with hard-boiled egg, bacon and Maytag blue dressing; organic spinach with roasted pear, goat cheese and shallot vinaigrette, and organic beet salad with green lentils and prosciutto.

The fish is fresh and well prepared ($26 - $31) like our fork tender grilled Florida Coast Hog Snapper set over a delicious vegetable stew and basil beurre blanc. There’s jumbo shrimp ‘a la plancha’ with locally farmed roasted tomatoes and fingerling potatoes and a saffron seafood risotto with plenty of mussels, rock shrimp, calamari, the fish of the day and lobster bisque.

For meat lovers:  braised short ribs ($29), almost melting in an intensely flavored red wine sauce are accompanied with light pumpkin potato gnocchi; even if the seared duck breast ($27) is drizzled with Southern Comfort sauce, it is French, with a side of Brussels sprouts and crispy polenta.

It wouldn’t be an American bistro if it didn't list the grilled 14-oz bone-in NY Steak ($38) and the seared 6-oz grass-fed  beef tenderloin with  mushroom ragoût and truffled demi-glace.

Desserts provide sweet endings but no surprises, unless I stand to be contradicted at the time  of this writing.

As said chef Ruiz, F.A.B. is a destination for locals and diners from all over the world, and doubles up as a lavish brunch destination on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and as a beach party on Sundays when he rolls up his sleeves and the cuffs of his pants to cook giant paellas and roast suckling pigs on the beach.



F.A.B. Fresh American Bistro at  Sole on the Ocean, Sunny Isles Beach

fabHours: Open seven days a week, F.A.B. begins breakfast service at 7:30am daily, lunch from 11:00am to 4:30pm, dinner 6:00pm to 10pm, and brunch on Sundays from 11am to 3pm.
Wines and Spirits: reasonably-priced wine list and a long and lavish cocktail menu.
Service: Enthusiastic
Parking: in the building
Access: Stairs and elevator
Credit Cards: all