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Sandee Birdsong - Tantra Restaurant

Sandee BirdsongContinuing the Tantra tradition
Miami Beach, FL - Tantra Restaurant in South Beach has drawn international attention for its grass floor, Feng Shui-inspired design and aphrodisiac cuisine menu. It is also renowned as the "cradle of chefs."
 
Since Michael Jacobs crafted the initial menu of aphrodisiac cuisine, Tantra has developed the reputation as a haven for young, creative chefs in Miami.
 
They have garnered awards at Tantra and now occupy the helm at premier restaurants in the United States. Jacobs, for example, was named one of the nation's "rising stars" by Restaurants and Institutions. His successor, Michelle Bernstein, is now the executive chef of Azul and is a Food Network personality. Willis Loughhead, who was nominated for a Beard Foundation National Award, is now an executive chef at the Ritz-Carlton in Coconut Grove.
 
Tantra's current executive chef, Sandee Birdsong, worked as a personal chef for 15 years, specializing in dishes inspired by Southern herbs and spices, before joining Tantra.

The floor of fresh cut grass, flowing water walls, the aroma of jasmine-scented candles, images of Kama Sutra showcased on a big screen behind the mahogany and copper bar, and a fiber-optic starry sky with a shooting star are examples of how Tantra enlivens the senses even before the aphrodisiac cuisine arrives. Birdsong tantalizes the senses of taste and smell when her menu selections arrive at the table.
 
Birdsong, who was raised in Georgia on St. Simon's Island, developed an interest for cooking - southern style - at an early age from her family, who operated a restaurant that specialized in southern food.
 
"My grandmother and mother taught me the importance of herbs and spices in cooking," Birdsong said. "They are the ones who inspired me to become a chef."
 
When he developed the concept for Tantra, Tim Hogle was urged by marketing advisors and restaurant industry professionals to forget his idea for aphrodisiac cuisine. It was too controversial and gimmicky, they said. Hogle; however, firmly believed in his concept for a restaurant based on the ancient Indian/Tibetan art of Tantra, which is designed to heighten all five senses. This is accomplished through the restaurant's décor, ambience and cuisine.
 
In the world's earliest days, when humans were tribal in nature, food was spiced not for taste, but for virility and for medicinal purposes. Tantra's menu features aphrodisiacs from around the world, including filet mignon drizzled in coffee sauce, seared rare tuna with truffle-foie gras sauce, and ginger kissed salmon.
 
"We use only the finest ingredients. Many of our vegetables and meats are organic. So are the herbs and spices," Birdsong explained. "That is an important component of giving each guest a sensory experience."

The moment you walk through the door and onto the live grass floor, you discover that Tantra Restaurant and Lounge is different. Yet the fresh sod is just the beginning of an odyssey that enlivens all five of your senses.
 
Reflecting an ancient Middle Eastern philosophy that emphasizes spiritual enlightenment, Tantra has long been a hot spot of celebrities, jetsetters and curious palates with its acclaimed aphrodisiac cuisine, sensual new age music, fragrant incense and jasmine-scented candles. The restaurant's exotic décor includes a softly illuminated marble water wall, a fiber optic starlit ceiling, and a copper and mahogany bar.
 
Tantra's menu features flavors and textures that span the globe, and each dish is created with aphrodisiac elements.
 
The Tantra Love Apple, boasting a sliced ripe Homestead tomato layered with Laura Chenel goat cheese, basil oil, and Cypress Grove Bermuda Triangle garnished with fresh pomegranate seeds, is an ideal starter. So is the Tantra Plate, a unique blend of the most potent aphrodisiacs such as Pacific oysters, tender poached jumbo shrimp, thin sliced Japanese calamari salad, succulent sweet soy grilled eel, twin flash fried Lobster wontons, a large stone crab claw, and a spicy roll of sushi tuna and wakame seaweed with wasabi kiwi sorbet.
 
Examples of main courses include the Chilled Maine Lobster Napoleon, Grilled Sonoma Foie Gras, Ginger Kissed Salmon or Grilled Filet Mignon with Cuban Coffee Sauce.
 
"From the moment you walk in, Tantra is all about sharpening the senses," Birdsong said. "The décor and ambience heightens the senses. Then the cuisine fulfills the complete Tantra experience."


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