Tendril is the Night

Nonetheless, the chicken macadamia ($16.95), folded around boursin cheese and sweetened with a side of crunchy rice noodles and strawberry sauce, disappeared from a prospective groom's plate at the rate of two bites per second. He did dispatch a taste in my direction, though, before it went the way of his bachelorhood. I only hope his married life will be as rich as this dish.

His w-w-w-wife-to-be (there are those prenuptial nerves again) also chose chicken, with pasta primavera ($15.95). Isn't that cute? They already think alike. Though it was not very innovative, an addition of baby vegetables propped the dish up a bit, and the preparation was excellent. The serving was also generous, affording us all a forkful. This woman mentioned later that she felt the staff and other clients had been watching us during dinner. By the way we fell on each other's food, it's no wonder she felt conspicuous.

The other bride and I shared as an appetizer the "Five Easy Pieces" ($6.95), tri-color Gorgonzola ravioli surrounding a mound of creamed spinach (if you think all these brides and grooms are confusing, try going to two bridal showers in one weekend, both of them surprise parties. I've forbidden them to have babies -- ugh -- at the same time).

To counteract the delicious fattiness of it, we split as an entree the "Food Among The Flowers Greenery Bowl" ($10.95), an immense portion of spinach, romaine, California baby greens, artichoke hearts and hearts of palm, tomatoes, and green beans, all mixed lightly with a vinaigrette. This meal goes along with the candy-bar/diet-soda theory of negation -- if you eat one while drinking the other, they cancel each other out. Actually, I adore baby lettuces, alternately sweet and nutty pretentious little weeds. This serving of them could have used a third hand, but not many were interested in salad when the honeysuckle duck ($17.95), with a Southern salsa and pecan gravy, tenderized the table.

Of course, because my own husband is perfect, his meal of nutty peach salmon ($20.95) was presented with equal perfection. The salmon scaloppine was encrusted with a layer of nuts, then bathed in a sweet-and-sour peach sauce and layered over linguine. The nut-and-fruit theme did start to seem familiar, but then the whole menu, from escargot puff ($7.25) to the filet mignon with a cabernet sauce ($23.95), was slightly worn. Baby vegetables, three-color pasta, little lettuces, even edible flowers have seen fresher days. Some chefs have vowed never to touch duck again, it's that poultry passe. But Soren has been around so long he just may have been the originator, at least in Miami, of gourmet food store cookery. And he has something the up-and-coming creative chefs, spit-shined from culinary school, lack: the experience to turn unfashionable ingredients into client-securing repasts. Delicious is always in.

SOREN'S FOOD AMONG THE FLOWERS 2728 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Coral Gables, 441-9393. Open for lunch Monday -- Friday 11:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. Open for dinner Monday -- Thursday 6:30 until 10:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday 6:30 p.m. until midnight. Closed Sundays (except for private parties).

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