Craig Robins’ dining boltholes

The CEO and president of property development company Dacra meets fashion designers over tuna tartare in Paris and art collectors over dim sum in Hong Kong

Craig Robins at Mandolin
Craig Robins at Mandolin | Image: Rose Cromwell

“Everything is so rushed today that it’s important to share meals with colleagues and partners: when work gets integrated with life, everything is enhanced – we’re all more productive. My business focuses on art and design – specifically, developing the Miami Design District with leading brands and restaurants – and this extends to where I choose to entertain architects, designers, lawyers or our leasing team.

A favourite Miami lunch spot is Michael’s Genuine, a foodie mecca where I recently shared a fun meal with Michael Burke, CEO of Louis Vuitton, to bring him up to speed on some public art projects. I love its huge umbrellas; you can stay outside even if there’s a tropical shower. Whoever I’m with, whether it’s Pharrell or Riccardo Tisci, I order the stracciatella for sharing – with fresh peaches or tomatoes – and the seasonal stone crab claws.

The sleek MC Kitchen, another regular in the Design District, has a bustling open kitchen and the world’s best truffle pizza; I have one slice – it’s rich – and bring the rest to the office, which goes down well. I recently shared their signature poulet rouge with caramelised onions with cult hairdresser Oribe, while discussing the possibility of a salon in the District. I don’t drink with lunch, but for special dinners here I’ll have a glass of Burly Cabernet.

At Mandolin, one of the city’s most soulful restaurants, everyone bonds in the tavern-like atmosphere. Balenciaga’s CEO Cédric Charbit and I discussed opening its next store here over a family-style meal of grilled octopus and sirloin kefte, further solidifying our relationship.

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The creative magic of the District expands exponentially during Design Miami, the fair I founded. One of last year’s most memorable evenings was in a private space above a super-hip spot called OTL. During the week, it’s perfect for laidback morning meetings, brainstorming over quinoa muffins – but that night, we celebrated the Saint Laurent store opening with art dealers and curators including Larry Gagosian and Jeffrey Deitch and an abundant, experimental menu of canapés.

I also do a lot of business outside Miami. The place to be during Art Basel is the bar in Les Trois Rois, which serves excellent cocktails; while nearby Chez Donati – where I recently met Nadja Swarovski to talk about ideas for Design Miami – has excellent fillet of sole Florentine and spaghetti with clams.

In London, The Connaught is perfect for drinks meetings during Frieze. One of my favourite restaurants is The River Café. I had dinner there recently with David Adjaye to discuss exciting future projects over fantastic pasta and seabass.

Paris is important for my work with fashion houses, and visits there mean going to fabulous bistros with Christian Louboutin, who I bonded with on a research trip to South America before he opened his flagship in the District. Our last dinner, at stylish La Société in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, was a wonderful night of tuna tartare and lively conversation.

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On my last trip to Hong Kong, where I’m exploring real estate concepts, I went to a fabulous dinner, full of design people, hosted by entrepreneur Alan Lo and his father Victor Lo, chairman and CEO of Gold Peak Industries. It was at the Ilse Crawford-designed Duddell’s, on top of the Shanghai Tang Mansion: the terrace garden setting is gorgeous, and Alan and I chatted about Asian art over excellent dim sum and fried lobster. In Tokyo, for the Pritzker Prize ceremony, I had delicious dinners with collectors at the Park Hyatt. Its properties are outstanding; the views from the restaurant, Kozue, are magnificent – especially accompanied by sea urchin and beef shabu-shabu and debate about the future of architecture, art and design.”

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