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The owner of Brasserie Les Halles, Philippe Lajaunie, has purchased the Beach Castle Hotel, 4210 Collins Ave., a three-story 30 rooms building from 1959, to reopen it as Le Marais Hotel with, in Phase One of the reconstruction, an 80-seat indoor/outdoor Le Marais Restaurant in the hotel lobby. "A regular hotel with a Glatt Kosher food service," described Mr. Lajaunie who has been working on this project for a long time. "The restaurant will have the same feel of comfortable, old French brasserie than Le Marais in New York, so that people traveling anywhere from the world, with special Kosher requirements, can come without having to take their food with them, but being in Miami we'll have a little patio for people who want to dine al fresco," claimed Lajaunie. During the first year Le Marais will have limited service restaurant with a short menu including salads such as Niçoise with fresh tuna , entrees Le Marais is known for like grilled chicken, fish and meats, and French specialties like steak au poivre, and Kosher desserts like crème brûlée and tarte tatin.

"For the 1st year from Passover 05 to 06,"explained Lajaunie, "we will have a somewhat limited offering. In Phase II we will remodel the hotel. The idea is to have an absolutely lovely, ultra modern boutique hotel with luxury amenities that people who travel worldwide come to expect, and we will expand the restaurant to probably 150 seats, including outdoor, with a great bar/lounge right off the lobby and seating in the courtyard -- ít was covered in the 70s to make room for a disco…" he added.

This is Mr. Lajaunie's first hotel, with plans to open a small chain of boutique hotels in major cities in the US and around the world: Le Marais Hotel and Restaurant for people with special requirements who want to keep in touch with Orthodox values as well as the public at large. "Aside from the Moshgiah (the Rabbinical controller) there will nothing that makes this hotel different from a luxury hotel," said Lajaunie who owns four Brasserie Les Halles in New York, Washington DC, and in Coral Gables, as well as Le Marais in Time Square, New York ( Le Marais Downtown in the Wall Street district closed because of 9/11 to reopen as Les Halles Downtown). Le Marais Hotel and Restaurant, 4210 Collins Ave., 305-672-0022.

The much touted OLA Miami, chef Douglas Rodriguez's first Nuevo Latino restaurant in Miami is now open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the new first floor of the two-story building. On the menu: soups and salads ($5 to $13) such as locro white bean potato clam chowder and spinach salad with sherried mushrooms,chorizo, manchego cheese,cauliflower and tomato; appetizers ($7 - $8) including Lamb picadillo empanadas withmint mojo , sandwiches ($8 to $12), and Chef Rodriguez's signature ceviches ($6 to $11); and main dishes ($11 to $15) with Peruvian spiced rotisserie chicken; Pork tenderloin milanesa and Puerto Rican plantain lasagna (Pastelon). OLA Miami, 5061 Biscayne Blvd., Miami.305-758-9195. Ola Steak Restaurant, in the location of the defunct Pescado, in the Village of Merrick Park, Coral Gables, is slated to open on March 14.

Chef Neal Cooper who was well-known for his popular restaurant Neal's in the mid 90's and then served a private restaurants in luxury condos, has resurfaced with Il Migliore, a restaurant he opened about a year and a half ago next door to the original Neal's. The menu is all Italian with daily specials and a fixed menu of salads and appetizers ($7.95 to $10.95); homemade fresh pastas such as Jumbo Lump Crabmeat w/ fresh linquine; fresh fettucini with mixed mushroom and truffle oil; traditional lasagna Bolognese; and fish, chicken and meat entrées ($9.95 to $21.95) ranging from Pollo Matone, a Cornish hen marinated in garlic, rosemary thyme and olive oil, flattened out and cooked under a brick ($15.95); Tilapia with lemon caper sauce; Sautéed calf livers with caramelized onions ($15.95); and New York skirt steak with side dishes like garlic spinach and Tuscan fries with rosemary, Italian parsley and sage. "We have a great wine list with excellent wines ranging from $25 to $50 and higher for reserve wines,"explained chef Cooper. All desserts such as mini-canoli, Zucatto - a dome cake with chocolate mousse, or apple Crostata (4.95 to $6.95) are home made. Il Migliore is open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and for dinner seven days from 5 to 10 p.m. 2576 NE Miami Gardens Drive, North Miami. 305-792-2902.

Finger foods and salads ($6.50 to $8), chicken and shrimp sandwiches, hamburgers and the signature hot dawgs ($3.50 to $7) as well as a shockfull of high carb sides such as Mac & Cheese, onion rings and fries ($2.75 to $7) are on chef “Top Dawg”’s menu alongside a list of wines, Champagne – from upscale French Perriet Jouet to canned Sofia (Ford Coppola), and a bevy of exotic cocktails at the new Dawg House Grill. The manager is Barry Abes, and the bar manager is Darin Schultz. Located in the Tudor Hotel, the 4,000 square feet space includes an interior lounge and a wrap around veranda with a spouting fountain and an outside bar. This is the brainchild of founders Andrew Kramer, Gary Herwitz and Arnold Cohen (if its sounds like an accounting firm it’s because Herwitz is president of Mahoney Cohen & Co a CPA firm ranking as one of the top 15 accounting firms in NYC). Kramer and Herwitz, two childhood friends from New York City and a business partner of Cohen’s devised the concept along the lines of a low-cost, all-hour fun food menu of mini-sized entrees (two to an order) available to beach goers and late night revelers. Dawg House Grill is open 7 days for lunch and dinner from 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m. or later. Breakfast is slated to be served soon. 1111 Collins Ave., South Beach. 305-604-3647

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