La Dolce 8 1/2

Life is sweet — from the apps to the dessert sampler — at the latest Clinton Hotel eatery

A fleshy fillet of pan-seared grouper, like all of our main courses, was cooked just right — and, like all of our main courses, was served on a mound of savory mush (polentalike grits studded with corn and fava beans). The pooling bouillon this time came infused with wild mushrooms and the earthy aroma of "truffle essence" (which tasted suspiciously like truffle oil). Other main courses include filet mignon matched with lobster-studded mashed potatoes; grilled salmon draped over smashed avocado; and miso-glazed sea bass stuck on sticky rice.

Restaurant 8 1/2 embraces la dolce vita via a number of homemade, preciously presented desserts — nothing you haven't seen before, but satisfying nonetheless. Warm chocolate lava cake is intensely dark and bittersweet alongside pistachio ice cream; warm apple-rhubarb tart fresh and heartwarming with cinnamon ice cream; warm bread pudding sweet, sweet, sweet. I was grateful that pumpkin cheesecake exhibited less sugar intensity than the others, but its attractively bronzed meringue topping proved rubbery. If dining with a group of two or more, you might consider a sampling platter of all four desserts — a bargain at $16.

Chef McClain occasionally traipses through the room and checks in with each table, both to introduce himself and to see how his guests are enjoying their meals. GM Boals does likewise. Each makes it a point to personalize the dining experience — a small gesture with a big payoff that a surprising number of restaurants fail to exploit. The attentive waitstaff is equally amiable, and a tangible friendliness fills the air. In fact acoustics are such that the air is crowded with all sorts of things, including music and the reverberating clack of flatware and chatter. Which is clearly preferable to the sounds of silence that numbered the days of 8 1/2's predecessors.

JOE ROCCO

Location Info

Map

Restaurant 8 1/2

821 Washington Ave.
Miami Beach, FL 33139-5802

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: South Beach

Details

Open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner Sunday through Thursday 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., Friday and Saturday 7:00 a.m. to midnight
Clinton Hotel, 821 Washington Ave, Miami Beach; 786-276-3850

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