French Seafood Satisfies

SoBe’s new Maison d’Azur is a welcome arrival.

Sampled sides were sensational, from a flawless truffled mac and cheese, to an exhilarating dollop of gratin potatoes permeated with Gruyère and Parmesan, to ratatouille, which during its brief, decades-ago revival in American restaurants, devolved into a disheartening mush of tomato-sopped vegetables. The rendition here features eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, red peppers, onions, and herbs melded together in seamless, scrumptious fashion. It testifies to why the dish became a French legend.

The staff here already ranks among the best in South Beach, if not Miami-Dade — pleasant, professional, knowledgeable, accommodating, detail-oriented, and on-the-goddamn-ball. Alert managers posted about oversee the operation and ensure that service is smoother than Maurice Chevalier's crooning. I'm not sure we heard any Chevalier while eating here, but Édith Piaf, along with an undulating, upbeat mix of world tunes, was spun by DJ Bruno Saläun (from St. Tropez). The sound gets a little louder as the evening progresses, but speakers are situated such that the music never overwhelms conversation — and in fact contributes more to the dining experience than at any other restaurant I can think of.

Great wines add to the fun. Master sommelier Andrew Bell has assembled more than 75 arresting vintages and champagnes that are unique to the area, marked up reasonably (relative to South Beach), and all available by the glass. Bell amicably aids with selections without overselling, and concise tasting notes on the menu lend further assistance.

Joe Rocco

Location Info

Map

The Angler's Boutique Resort

660 Washington Ave.
Miami Beach, FL 33139

Category: Hotels and Resorts

Region: South Beach

Details

660 Washington Ave, Miami Beach; 305-534-9600. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner Sunday through Thursday 7 a.m. to midnight, Friday and Saturday 7 a.m. to 1 a.m.

Desserts? Divine. Those with a yen for dramatics, as well as oranges, will savor the tableside flaming of classic crêpes suzette. Tarte Tatin, too, is prepared in a customary caramelized manner and then capped with vanilla ice cream, while a napoleon ditches convention with red berries and a daring dash of mint syrup. All are alluring, but the cream of the crop is crème brûlée, an impossibly soft custard gilded with a glistening sheath of bronzed sugar. By comparison, other versions around town resemble something whipped up from Jell-O pudding mix. A petite taste of sparkling lemon granita on the side played off the brûlée like diamonds against velvet.

Another captivating closer brought a tall, narrow frappe glass layered with lightly lavendered ice cream, "homemade Nutella," and brandy-boosted whipped cream. You might want to linger by capping dessert with a cup of hot cocoa, a French press pot of coffee, or an after-dinner cocktail, for as gastronomically haute-over-heels as Maison is, it's equally hot as a late-night haunt. Appealing to foodies and frolickers alike, this house will easily be the coming season's most sought-after address. And deservedly so.

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