A four-course tasting menu is available for $65 and a wine flight for an additional $45. The tasting menu reflects changing themes, with items also available to à la carte diners. I snared a pan-seared yellowtail snapper from the week's Cuban dinner, figuring this was my chance to sample one of Wynter's creations. The fish was served skin-on, but rather than being brown and crunchy, the surface was steamy and stretchy. A general rule of cooking dictates the side of fish to be served face-up should first be crisped face-down in the pan to improve presentation. The snapper was otherwise moist and fresh, blanketed with olive slices and blandly stewed tomatoes and onions. Moros on the side were agreeably saturated with an unbeatable smoky bacon flavor, but countless Cuban joints around town offer a punchier, much larger portion of the same fish for a lot less money. Baleen's wines, incidentally, match the cuisine quite well -- they too are overpriced.
By the third time I heard the waiter's intro for white chocolate and pear crme brùlée ("I don't think I've ever had a bad crme brùlée"), it was hard to stop myself from muttering, "Well, I have, and it usually entails ingredients like white chocolate and pear."
Simple desserts are served in a spectacular setting
305-860-4305. Open for breakfast
Monday through Saturday 7:00 to
11:00 a.m., Sunday 7:00 to 10:00
a.m.; lunch Monday through
Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.;
Sunday brunch 10:00 a.m. to 2:30
p.m.; dinner Sunday through
Thursday 6:30 to 10:00 p.m., Friday
and Saturday 6:30 to 11:00 p.m.
I'm not sure what the rule of thumb is regarding how expensive a restaurant need be before cuteness becomes inappropriate, but I assume any place selling a bowl of berries for $15 may meet the criteria. When asked what fruit was included in the "wild berry bowl with vanilla bean and brown sugar cream" (simply put, flavored whipped cream), the waiter replied, "Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries ... and if we're lucky, they might have gotten in some blackberries today."
Desserts are so pricey I worried whether my order for $9 banana and dulce de leche crêpes with cinnamon ice cream might be expedited in the kitchen via the yell, "One cheapo for table 17!" Apple tart was a $14 circle of buttery pastry topped with almond frangipane, thinly sliced apples, a light glaze, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream with raspberry nipple.
There's a Randy Newman song in which the aging Sixties rocker laments, "Each record that I'm making is like a record that I've made. Just not as good." That's Baleen, best left to those unfortunate folks from out of town who don't get to see Biscayne Bay very often.