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
A caprese salad did not bring lush slices of red tomatoes, milky-white slabs of mozzarella, and an aromatic plume of basil leaves. Instead the ingredients were petitely diced and tossed together with specks of prosciutto into a piddly little pile plied with olive oil and balsamic glaze. Didn't help that the plate still exuded warmth from the dishwashing machine.
Two meats, three seafoods, and a chicken dish compose the entrée selections -- plus the aforementioned linguine, which gets tossed with tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil -- sounds familiar, no? Filet mignon comes au poivre; the skinny cylinder of meat is speckled with coarse black pepper and pooled in a creamy cognac sauce nuanced with Dijon. Diners get a full, generous meal here, for main courses come accompanied by roasted or mashed potatoes and flawlessly cooked asparagus spears.
With Florida mango season upon us, and a menu notation of "Competition Grand Prize Winner," blackened mahi-mahi with pineapple-mango salsa seemed worth a try. The fish, timidly touched with Cajun spice mix, was on the dry side, apparently fiddled with a little too long in the pan. Accompaniments were balsamic greens and a silver gooseneck of melted butter spiked with lemon juice -- not an especially effective foil for the fruit. The salsa's lime-splashed mango wasn't especially sweet, so we asked our waiter where it came from. He didn't have a clue, but a short time later he returned with the answer: Mexico. To buy Mexican mangoes this time of year is ... well, let's just say Mr. Keller really should have mentioned something about this to Ms. Calvo. As should have somebody at the Food Network. And at Johnson & Wales.
11510 SW 147th Ave.
Kendall, FL 33196
Region: South Dade
Wines came up short too. The limited listing of bottles is only modestly marked up, but choices are mundane in light of this being a "vineyard restaurant."
For dessert I recommend Nutella won tons with vanilla ice cream; chocolate sundae with brownie; or mascarpone cheesecake. I didn't try any of them, but they've gotta be better than passion-fruit/mango bread pudding, a pasty puck of fruity-tasting bread purée with coconut-rum dulce de leche sauce poured on top like gravy on stuffing. Luscious slices of mango and papaya alongside were dreamy. Meaning I was dreaming; the pudding's only garnish was decorative dots of shiny red and yellow sauces, presumably meant to symbolize fruit. "Authentic Tuscan tiramisu" was also puck-shape, but it was fresh and tasty, if marred visually by ugly brown (chocolate) and red (?) sauces covering the plate bull's-eye style.
There is nothing wrong with possessing a savvy business sense and using it to one's full advantage. And let's face it, this woman makes Martha Stewart and Rachael Ray seem like a couple of underachieving slouches. Yet impressive as Calvo's resumé reads, it includes precious little restaurant experience -- none as an actual chef. Fame might be the name of the game these days, but it would behoove her now to concentrate on upgrading the gastronomic aspects of her career. Maybe this review will serve as incentive to do so. Because Adrianne is such a decent, giving person, I'm going to waive my nominal $15,000 motivational fee.