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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Crazy About You

     Every server at this restaurant wears a name tag that reads "My name is ____. I'm crazy about you." I believe them. From the moment I walked in, through the meal, while paying the bill, and as I walked out, every staff member I interacted with seemed to be genuinely happy to see me.
   
     This place in the trendy business area of Brickell is not expansive in size, but it is one of the most popular venues right now for special events. On this particular Sunday, while I began the month-long birthday celebration, a soccer league awards party, a bachelorette lunch, and a bridal shower (for a different bride) were happening simultaneously. It's elegantly eclectic with shabby chic pieces mixed with modern furniture in neutrals and metallics.
Pops of color are provided by Warhol-like posters of iconic figures, and a rustic chandelier made of wood branches contrasts sharply against elegant wallpaper. Outside seating is arranged on a balcony that looks upon Brickell Bay.

     The table settings include the cutest little paper bags full of toasted strips of buttered bread and dishes of olive oil and balsamic- the perfect companions for my Passion Mule, a fresh and punchy mixture of orange vodka, lime juice and ginger beer.
 
   
   
     The menu is generous. Every entree comes with an appetizer, so I had quite a variety of samples at the table. John ordered the Serrano Ham Croquettes and the Chicken and Waffles. I ordered the Tostones and Bruschetta with Roma Tomatoes and Strawberries, and the Grilled Short Rib Benedict. The croquettes were perfectly fried, but the Serrano ham taste was hard to find. Serrano is no ordinary ham, and a croquette made with it should be no ordinary croquette. This one was.
   
     John found his chicken dry although I didn't, and he actually said Waffle House makes better waffles. Ouch! The tostones were unremarkable, the combination of Roma tomatoes and strawberries sounded interesting, but should've been enhanced by a bolder dressing. The eggs Benedict were poached perfectly, and the short rib was savory enough, but it was nothing more than a thin, leathery strip of meat on each side of the English muffin. C-plus at best.
     By this time, I was quite unimpressed with the execution of the dishes even though I found them conceptually interesting when I read the menu. I hesitated to ask for dessert, but curiosity got the best of me.
   
     The dessert menu comes in the form of a table top Eiffel Tower with three small slates advertising the selections: Cappuccino flan is self-explanatory, Message in a Bottle was described as a brownie with ice cream, and the third option is called Not a x$%# Cheesecake, which apparently is something in the neighborhood of a cheesecake-flavored custard served in a tumbler with the traditional strawberry embellishment, a deconstructed cheesecake, if you will. At first glance, none of these choices caught my attention, so we thought it best not to investigate further.
     I came to find out later that the Message in a Bottle involved much more than was represented by the server's quick description. The brownie and ice cream are served in a large plate, and come with a dessert basket of ingredients such as strawberries, chocolate syrup, and whipped cream to embellish your plate as you wish. You are encouraged to share pictures of your delicious art on social media. You can also enter to win a dinner for two by writing a message and placing it in a bottle provided for you. All this theater was not even suggested at any time. Were they too busy? Was it not available? Apparently we were on a need-to-know basis. That saddened me.
     The problem with hype is that it creates expectations that are sometimes difficult to meet. I really liked this place, and would like to go back because of the atmosphere, not because the food matched the buzz. I have to learn to put recommendations in the proper perspective. One person's 'excellent', more often than not, is this person's 'just ok.'

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8 comments:

  1. Wow what great staff to be treated so good. Plus food looks great

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  2. Thanks for such a detailed review. When I visit Miami again, I think I'd like to check out this spot for the atmosphere. Maybe the food will be better.

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    1. Please do. In spite of my slight disappointment, I intend to return.

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  3. Oh boy, it's too bad that the food didn't live up to your expectations. Unfortunately some restaurants are popular just for the atmosphere.

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    1. My expectations are unusually high when I intend to write about a place. It's a lovely place all in all, and I would definitely recommend it. Thanks for stopping by, Barbara.

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  4. I love the vibe, and the fact that every dish comes with an appetizer. But that's really disappointing the food wasn't up to par. I'm going to be in Miami this summer. I may still have to try it out, to see if they have improved.

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  5. By all means, do so, Karyl. It's a beautiful place and the food isn't bad. I just expect a lot when there is hype about a restaurant. Thanks for stopping by.

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