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
"What I've experienced there at The Source supports both Lee's rave and Jen's rant. Um, make that 'close to The Source.' Unfortunately I've never been to El Bulli itself. But chefs and other trusted foodie buddies all say that on any given visit, somewhere between one-third and two-thirds of Adria's dishes per meal are almost unbearably exciting, about the most inspiring stuff that's happened in the food world in our adult lifetimes. And the remainder range from simply weird to outright repulsive. (Not surprising. Laboratory experiments don't always work in other sciences.)
"Anyway, of the Catalan and Basque places I've been to run by disciples of Adria, I'd say about the same percentage holds true -- somewhere between one-third and two-thirds of the dishes I've tried have excited me, or at least I thought they worked, and the rest were just weird, sometimes so weird they were very annoying (particularly when they were pricey). In Valencia I wouldn't exactly say I thought that the Rice Krispies paella was an improvement on the original paella Valenciana. I wasn't all that thrilled to order 'chicken curry' and get curry-flavored ice cream with hot coconut soup, apple Jell-O, and some powerfully evil raw onion rings.
"On the other hand, in a tapas bar I knew was Adria-influenced, 'Irish coffee' that turned out to be two glass cups of savory soup, one hot foie gras topped with corn foam and the other hot corn topped with cold foie gras foam, was really fun. And a shrimp tempura with several Asian foams (wasabi, curry, and peanut) instead of standard dipping sauces was absolutely brilliant! But then you've probably heard about the famous place in Madrid that does considerably less successful -- one might even say appalling -- peanut foam dishes, like this virtual joke [of a] dessert where it's in curry sauce sprinkled with these crumbled Cocoa Puffs? It's the original La Broche."
-- Pamela Robin Brandt, New Times restaurant critic
"Serrano ham cubed as perfectly as grains of salt, savory foams that are light as air but with a subtle flavor of citrus, and frozen libations that definitely amuse the bouche. These are the reasons, in my opinion, that the food of chefs like Angel Palacios is worth exploring. No, it is not for everyone and it is not for every day. Neither does this kind of cooking always work. For every one dish that was a revelation, there was one that was met with a shrug. There is never a reason to make tuna-flavored gelatin as I tasted in the Ritz-Carlton in Naples. But a Jerusalem artichoke foam actually does work for me.
"It's sort of like the raw food thing. In my opinion if you want to eat raw food you should just grab an apple or an avocado. Don't make food something else. But for those who want their meal to be a theatrical experience, La Broche is nirvana. I wonder if this science experiment will take flight. Probably not. But not because Miami's diners are not sophisticated enough. It just doesn't fit our aesthetic. It belongs in New York or Berlin, where performance artists flourish and the avant-garde is commonplace. Still, I am not afraid to say if the emperor has no clothes. In this case, I think he is just a bit overdressed."
-- Victoria Pesce Elliott, a Miami Herald restaurant critic
"My experience at La Broche was delightful; however, I was predisposed to like it. I've been eating and investigating the 'new Spanish cuisine' for a while and was just thrilled to find an outpost in Miami. It is true that Angel Palacios cooking is very intellectual, requiring a lot of effort and thought to understand and appreciate. It is a lot to ask from people like us who have no gastronomic culture as such. On the other hand, there is a strong argument for just enjoying food and not having to analyze it.
"I liked almost everything that I tasted, [though] I thought some things really didn't work that well. But then again, I have never liked all the designs in any couturier's collection. Some [pieces] are made specifically to grab attention. The others, the more wearable [outfits], are quieter for the wardrobe of 'real people.'"
-- Viviana Carballo, food writer
"[My boyfriend] Michael and I had dinner there and it was like we ate in two different restaurants. I was liking the foam when it was kiwi on the little whiskey cocktail, but the foam on my fish soup was crying to be skimmed off. The killer for me was the coddled eggs in hardened sugar jackets that went with the fish soup -- I ate it but it almost did me in.
"I almost felt the dishes were booby-trapped -- a gorgeous list of ingredients and flavors with a scary thing at the end, [like a] brain or entrail. Guess I'm not nearly as sophisticated as I'd thought. Oh well!
"I might add that the service was impeccable and the sherries offered at the beginning were just right, and I truly enjoyed the tiny bites served before and in-between courses. Michael, however, thought it was a religious experience."