By David Minsky
By Jen Mangham
By Bill Wisser
By Laine Doss
By Bill Wisser
By Dana De Greff
By Laine Doss
By Zachary Fagenson
Another special, a main course, wasn't as successful. Lamb chops were overdone, not the medium-rare we'd ordered. Stuck like feathers into delicious chipotle mashed potatoes, they were so small and shriveled that they looked like toy versions of the real thing. (Now that's stereotypically British.) Too bad, really, because these had a nice musky aroma and would have been tasty had they not been overcooked.
In contrast, a sirloin steak was served too rare; we'd requested medium. After a few more minutes on the fire, the balsamic vinegar-glazed meat was returned unevenly grilled, with some parts still bloody and others well-done. But the beef was juicy, and enormous sprigs of fragrant rosemary enlivened the side dish of lentils that accompanied it.
Though the menu has a "brunch" section, its contents can be ordered at any time of day. A lobster club sandwich sounded like the most interesting dish in this category (perhaps unfairly competing against your standard eggs Benedict and pancakes). And it might have been, too, if the toasted onion bread hadn't been burnt, the billed bacon missing, and the lobster too briny. I'd rather have my salt come from the cured pork that was supposed to garnish the club along with the lettuce, tomato, and mayonnaise that dressed the bread. In terms of sheer quantity, however, the lobster was impressive, and the pile of field greens that partnered the sandwich was an unexpected pleasure. Made well, this is the kind of dish that would be a regular choice for me.
As would a beautiful fillet of grouper, arranged squarely over a scoop of mashed boniato. Call it compensation or just plain wonderful: Hearty yet delicate, the gleaming white fish, topped by lump blue crabmeat, fell off the architecturally constructed pile in supple flakes. The boniato, accented by roasted garlic, was also delicious.
Desserts were an extension of the seesawing that marked the rest of the meal. Baked chocolate cheesecake with creme fraiche florets had a smooth texture but was oddly sour. "Banoffi" pie, though, was outstanding: banana cream layered over toffee, which in turn sat on a crumbly pie crust. (Get it? Banana + toffee.) So rich that my husband and I fought off Howie and Susie for the last bite. For the record, I have to say that diamond of hers can do some damage. Or maybe it was the pitcher of that British beverage classic, Pimms Cup, that made us all so aggressive.
Balans needs to find its balance. And it probably will, as it grows into its role as one of the more sociable restaurants for locals on Lincoln Road. Meanwhile, I'm dressing for a follow-up date, eager to retest the scales.
Service is typically Beach, with long lapses and staffers who can't pronounce those really difficult words. Like "boniato."
1022 Lincoln Rd, Miami Beach; 534-9191. Open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m.; Friday and Saturday until 2:00 a.m.
Roast tomato and thyme tart
Tom yam gung
Lobster club sandwich