Edible South Florida Fall 2014 : Page24
Fancy THE NEW By David Rosendorf PRESSED LINENS, PROPER GLASSWARE, DEFINED COURSES AND GRACIOUS service are being steadily replaced by bare tables, mason jars, randomly delivered share plates and “Ya still working on that?” ¶ This trend toward increasing casualization of the dining world isn’t inherently evil. When restaurants can skip investing thousands of dollars in ﬁne china and crystal, more attention can be paid to what actually goes on the plate, a good thing as far as I’m concerned. All that snootiness can be stiﬂing, and what’s worse, often serves as a distraction from mediocre food. ¶ There are still times, though, when we all want something – well, fancy. We occasionally want to feel pampered, indulged, coddled. Fortunately, it’s still possible to ﬁnd that experience in South Florida, and it can take a variety of forms. Some newer places are swinging the pendulum back in the direction of elegance; others may not look like classic “ﬁne dining” restaurants, but serve food every bit their equal. Here are several takes on what I think of as “The New Fancy.” Mignonette. Photo: Robert Parente +-∙ fall 2014 ∙ edible SouthFlorida.com
The New Fancy
By David Rosendrof
PRESSED LINENS, PROPER GLASSWARE, DEFINED COURSES AND GRACIOUS service are being steadily replaced by bare tables, mason jars, randomly delivered share plates and "Ya still working on that?" ¶ This trend toward increasing casualization of the dining world isn't inherently evil. When restaurants can skip investing thousands of dollars in fine china and crystal, more attention can be paid to what actually goes on the plate, a good thing as far as I'm concerned. All that snootiness can be stifling, and what's worse, often serves as a distraction from mediocre food. ¶ There are still times, though, when we all want something – well, fancy. We occasionally want to feel pampered, indulged, coddled. Fortunately, it's still possible to find that experience in South Florida, and it can take a variety of forms. Some newer places are swinging the pendulum back in the direction of elegance; others may not look like classic "fine dining" restaurants, but serve food every bit their equal. Here are several takes on what I think of as "The New Fancy."
IT'S NO SECRET THAT THE ST. REGIS BAL HARBOUR RESORT is posh. But when you get past the Versailles-esque mirrors of its lobby and visit the restaurant, you may be in for something of a surprise, and it's not just the floor-to-ceiling windows facing the Atlantic Ocean. J&G Grill has a curiously low profile, given its association with one of the biggest name chefs to open a place in South Florida: Jean-Georges Vongerichten, whose flagship in New York has three Michelin stars, a four-star review from The New York Times, and multiple James Beard Awards. What's more, J&G is home to one of the most talented duos to pair up in a South Florida kitchen: chef de cuisine Bradley Kilgore, and executive pastry chef Antonio Bachour.
The menu at J&G follows the path that has been so successful for Jean-Georges, coupling French technique with the light, bright flavors of Asia, exemplified in dishes like the yellowfin tuna tartare with avocado and radish in a soy ginger dressing. But things get really fancy when Kilgore and Bachour are allowed to spread their wings. Call in advance and ask them to do a tasting menu for you, and you might see dishes like a togarashi-cured cobia with a fluffy basil meringue; a delicate white asparagus mousse blanketing a mound of osetra caviar and a soft poached egg; or a seared scallop nestled on a bed of braised wagyu oxtail draped with a tangle of pickled ramps.
And Bachour's desserts are not to be missed. The presentations are visually stunning, and there's always an engagingly deft interplay of flavors and textures, as in a combination of juicy strawberries and candied tomatoes with a honeyed Greek yogurt sorbet whose creamy tang is echoed in an airy sponge cake and crumbly meringue. His creations could be works of art even if they weren't edible. The fact that they taste every bit as good as they look makes them truly special.
St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort
MIGNONETTE, A NEW OYSTER BAR AND SEAFOOD RESTAURANT opened by Blue Collar chef/owner Daniel Serfer and lawyer/food blogger (and edible South Florida contributor) Ryan Roman, may not be everyone's idea of fancy. It's a casual place, with no glimmering crystal or fine silver. Its Edgewater location is, well, unassuming (OK, it's actually across from the City of Miami Cemetery). Their favorite twitter hashtag is "#f***ingfancy." But sometimes fancy is as fancy does.
At Mignonette, a rotating daily selection of oysters from the east and west coasts can be had either on the half-shell or in classic preparations like Oysters Rockefeller or the less-heralded but also-great Oysters Bienville, topped with shrimp, bacon and mushrooms. You can get a "Plain" Blue Collar seafood tower stocked with oysters, clams, shrimp and crab cocktail, or upgrade to the "Fancy" Mignonette tower, which adds a lobster tail and king crab legs. Feeling like Rich Uncle Pennybags? Splurge on some Kaluga caviar for $110. Not so flush? Maybe some warm croissants with lobster butter and mango jam for $8 instead.
Entrees are split into "plain" and "fancy" too – the former featuring a variety of fresh fish served simply with beurre blanc and a choice of vegetable, the latter featuring cheffy combinations like monkfish in a lobster consomme topped with smoked trout roe, seared redfish with a piquillo pepper brandy pan sauce, and an uber-classical prime rib with potato rosti.
Mignonette might not look or act fancy, but it does fancy pretty well.
1826 Restaurant & Lounge
WHEN 1826 OPENED ON SOUTH BEACH, I DIDN'T REALLY know what to expect. On the one hand, they'd hired a talented young chef, Danny Grant, who had already earned two Michelin stars and a Food & Wine magazine "Best New Chefs" honor during his tenure at RIA in Chicago. On the other, the place pitches itself as a combination restaurant, bar and bottle-service lounge – a mix where the food usually suffers. But while the decor takes some cues from Scarface-era 1980s Miami (i.e., lamps fashioned from gold-plated machine guns), and the soundtrack veers toward the "untz untz" if you dine late enough, Grant's food hits all the right beats.
Most items come in smaller portions so you can either have a few light bites before hitting the club, or assemble something of a DIY tasting menu. You might start with foie gras pave, presented as delicate cubes draped with sheets of translucent St. Germaine gelee. Maybe follow with local Florida shrimp, wrapped in crispy golden threads of kataifi and served with a silky coriander-infused sabayon. Then perhaps a grilled quail with porcini mushrooms and a creamy buttermilk gravy that's poised between elegant and homey. Finish with a yuzu chiboust, paired with raspberry sorbet, grapefruit and tarragon.
Notwithstanding the clubby vibe, there's a real refinement to the cooking here, and a real attention to detail too, on the level of only a few other South Florida restaurants.
1826 Restaurant & Lounge
FOR A LONG TIME, WYNWOOD WAS ABOUT THE LAST PLACE you'd look for high-end dining – or anything other than trouble, for that matter. But the transformation from seedy warehouse district to hip arts district is reaching a mature phase, and one of the neighborhood's newest restaurants, Shikany, is reflective of the transition. Its entrance is demarked by a towering vertical garden extending up one wall; its posh interior by houndstooth-patterned reflective walls and an expansive, brightly lit, marble and copper-tile ensconced open kitchen.
Chef Michael Shikany's cooking style is inspired by "modernists" like Grant Achatz at Chicago's Alinea – lots of techniques and lots of ingredients go into most of the dishes. A salad of fresh burrata cheese is plated with a tangle of greens, ribbons of peach compressed with St. Germaine liqueur, mustard seeds infused with Chartreuse liqueur, a sprinkle of bubu arare (tiny round Japanese rice crackers), a lychee dressing and more. An entree pairs seared scallops with crispy sweetbreads, purple cauliflower "paint" and a Licor 43 and lemongrass beurre blanc, but the real attention-grabber is a puffy cloud of vanilla cotton candy perched on the plate.
This is Shikany's first restaurant venture after having worked front and back of house at several local restaurants and staged at prestigious spots around the country. And it's an ambitious one, looking to bring a new level of refinement to the Wynwood neighborhood.
IN MY ADMITTEDLY VERY LIMITED EXPERIENCE, I've found many "fancy" Broward restaurants to be stuffy and stodgy. But Market 17, on Fort Lauderdale's 17th Street Causeway, bucks the trend. Sibling owners Krista and Aaron Grauberger, and chef Lauren DeShields, bring together thoughtfully selected ingredients and creative preparations in a setting that's comfortably elegant but not fussy.
The menu literally changes every day, but there's always a selection of house-made charcuterie, which might include things like cherry-studded salami, Tunisian-spiced sausage or cured duck ham, served with an assortment of chutneys and other condiments. Order a platter for the table to share: Entrees are all available in half-sized portions, so you can still get an appetizer too. Even in half-portions, there's a lot on the plate, like the expertly grilled venison loin I had that was served with a caramelized onion puree, farro, an assortment of vegetables and a sherry currant demi-glace.
The effort shows in service as well, with an enthusiastic staff, a thoughtfully selected and fairly priced wine list, and fine dining touches (Quality wine glasses! Silverware changed out between courses!) that many places have forsaken.
The Cypress Room
SEVEN YEARS AGO, MICHAEL Schwartz was at the forefront of the new casual trend with Michael's Genuine Food & Drink in the Design District. He went in the opposite direction when he opened The Cypress Room around the corner, which feels like it's from another century. Cut-glass chandeliers hang from the ceiling; cypress paneling, flowered wallpaper and stuffed deer heads cover the walls; lacy doilies adorn the dishes; Duke Ellington plays on the stereo.
The food, by chef Roel Alcudia, is also of another era. It's oldfashioned, but with modern sensibilities. Unlike the "small," "medium" and "large" plates on the MGF&D menu, you'll find straightforward appetizers like lamb tartare draped with slivered radishes and enriched with a quail egg yolk, or delicate royal red shrimp dressed with lime, coconut, puffed rice and a garden's worth of herbs and flowers. They'll be followed by entrees like roasted poussin with a leek and mushroom ragout, or the "Cypress Burger" topped with onion marmalade and tangy Jasper Hill Landaff cheese, served with a silver chalice of thrice-cooked fries. For dessert, pastry chef Hedy Goldsmith has an incredible knack for balancing elegance and playfulness, as in her coconut cake with tropical fruits and lime meringue.
The Cypress Room
Design District, Miami
Read the full article at http://onlinedigeditions.com/article/The+New+Fancy/1833848/228738/article.html.
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