The pandemic may have put everything on hold for the Big Apple and other states, however, the city of Miami kept it moving despite it all. Miami has been the talk of the town, as a variety of state-of-the-art hotels and restaurants opened throughout the end of 2020…not to mention, the openings continue to happen left and right. Six new hotels just opened in Miami this year with the KAYAK Miami Beach Hotel and its restaurant Layla being one of the freshly opened locales.
This was my first solo trip in a long time, which was special as I was on a quest to meet my creative team for the first time ever. Most importantly, I was excited to explore and write about The KAYAK Miami Beach. The KAYAK Miami Beach is the first hotel launched by the travel industry’s KAYAK.com. The hotel is perfectly positioned in the heart of Miami Beach on the Collins Canal, where one can taste and feel the cultural and culinary scene. It’s walking distance to The Bass Museum of Art, Miami City Ballet, and Miami Beach Botanical Garden. Further south is the excitement of South Beach and north are the quieter shores of Mid-Beach. With top notch amenities, a rooftop to hold your glass with some class, a pool to mingle in, and most importantly, Layla, the hotel’s one and only restaurant, makes The KAYAK Miami Beach the place to relax, restore, and eat.
The staff at The KAYAK Miami Beach was nothing but pleasant and made sure that we had an experience like no other. We stayed in one of the contemporary suites, which made us feel as if we were at our very own stylish beach home. The contemporary suite has a big living room space, a room with a king-sized bed, providing ample space to make anyone feel at home for their vacation stay. The bedroom featured luxury linens from Revival New York, a retro Marshall amplifying speaker, and a flat screen television with all the applications you’ll need, all the way from Netflix to Amazon Prime. As for the bathroom, Le Labo products that smell so fresh were provided, which brought serenity to me after each shower I took at the hotel. Not to mention that I’d link my phone via bluetooth to the Marshall speaker and blast some Billy Joel while showering in peace.
After settling in, we took the elevator downstairs to Layla, which serves delectable Middle Eastern cuisine. We sat in a beautiful dining room that felt like a magical oasis. The restaurant’s narrative arrives from Layla and Manjun’s love story by the great poets Nizami Ganjavi and Muhammad Fuzuli. Layla and Majnun’s story is of Arabic origin and is based on the 7th-century Najdi Bedouin poet Qays ibn al-Mulawwah and his ladylove Layla bint Mahdi, who were in love since their childhood years, however, weren’t allowed to unite. Qays (Majnun, which defined “possessed”), was perceived to be mad in his obsession with Layla, who was married off to someone else. Therefore, Majnun became a hermit and devoted himself to writing verses about his profound love for Layla. Indeed, this beautiful love story comes to life via food, drinks, and music.
At Layla, the team and I shared a variety of dishes. We kicked off our food escapade with Hummus and Babaganoush. For those that don’t know what Babaganoush is, it is a Levantine appetizer of Lebanese origin consisting of mashed cooked eggplant, olive oil, lemon juice, various seasonings, and tahini. Both of these were creamy, savory, and paired perfectly with the homemade pita chips and bread provided for dipping.
Once we finished with the Hummus and Babaganoush, we ordered an Israeli salad for the table, which was a refreshing and juicy foil for the Miami heat. The Israeli Salad, containing diced cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, red onions, Za’atar, and preserved lemons, is known to be the “most well-known national dish of Israel”… not to mention, that it is a standard side to most Israeli meals.
We ordered two small plates: Grilled Octopus and Harissa Marinated Tuna. Seafood is always great to order and share when it comes to eating with a group. The Grilled Octopus was tender, succulent, with a crispy outside and a slightly smoky flavor. The Harissa Marinated Tuna, was spicy, light, and tangy, which also came with pita chips for scooping the tuna chunks.
For the main course, we ordered three large dinner plates: Baharat Grilled Cauliflower, Grilled Branzino, and Ras Hanout Hanger Steak. The Baharat Grilled Cauliflower, seen above right, was unusual, especially since cauliflower is known to have a light, vegetal scent along with a mild, sweet, and subtly nutty flavor. This cauliflower was drizzled with honey, tahini, and sprinkled with golden raisins, which gave it a delightful twist. The branzino was light and flaky with a mildly sweet flavor containing zhug (similar to chimichurri), caramelized fennel, and roasted tomatoes.
The Ras Hanout Hanger Steak, had a nice woody, pungent, and bitter flavor profile with an additional sweet taste due to the nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. Rather than the steak being spicy, it was warm—and melted in your mouth after each bite. This Middle Eastern restaurant satisfied our palates, especially mine, as I’ve never really enjoyed this type of cuisine till I visited Layla. I was very content that I opened my mind and palate to Middle Eastern food, which makes me grateful for the experience the team and I had at Layla.
Overall, Layla at The KAYAK Miami Beach is the ultimate destination to dine in class with a whole lot of peace in Miami. The food and ambiance is indeed brought to visitors’ palates through love, just as Layla and Manjun’s love. So, if you need a weekend getaway from Manhattan’s hustle and bustle along with great menu options, book a trip to Miami and pay The KAYAK Miami Beach and Layla a visit.
The KAYAK Miami Beach, 2216 Park Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139