Art Deco tower becomes gathering place for lovers of books, food in Miami

Miami, Apr 7 (EFE).- The historic Art Deco Carnival Tower, built in 1929 in downtown Miami, has become a gathering place for lovers of books and fine cuisine.

The iconic octagonal tower, located by the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts and near the bayfront Museum Park, was slated for demolition at one point.

The tower introduced a simple but daring construction trend, becoming an early architectural example of the Art Deco style that was the rage in Miami and Miami Beach in the 1930s.

"It is wonderful to live Miami's history in this 1929 Art Deco tower and offer a cuisine reflecting the city's gourmet culture," chef Allen Susser, who oversees The Cafe Books & Books restaurant, told Efe.

"For me, this is a new adventure and the menu I offer, even though it's informal, must be delicious," Susser said.

The tower became a Sears store in the late 1930s, but the renovation has preserved the Art Deco spirit that permeates Miami Beach's historic district and other spots in the city.

The building now has room for leisure activities, arts, conferences, books and, of course, cuisine rich in local flavors, with special attention given to fresh seafood and light main courses.

"Although ours is a rather informal cuisine, we give lots of attention to quality ingredients acquired from local producers to prepare meals with all the Miami flavors and tastes," Susser, a New Yorker who opened the legendary Chef Allen's in Miami in 1986, said.

Susser, who was named one of the top 10 new U.S. chefs by Food and Wine magazine in 1991, said he was happy to now preside over the kitchen of The Cafe Books & Books.

"It was very nice to be selected as chef for this bookstore and restaurant," he said. "My job will be to reinterpret Floridian cuisine."

Susser emphasized his committment to the local farmers who will supply the vegetables, spices and tropical fruits used to prepare Caribbean and Florida dishes in his kitchen.

The restaurant, open for lunch and dinner, and surrounded by the latest literary works, offers a cuisine that Susser describes as "classical" and "informal," including aperitifs like toasted avocado, home-made hummus, mahi-mahi ceviche or a choice of cheeses.