Charlotte Bistro's Enchanting Web

Dinner here is simply an elegant, enjoyable experience.

The signature dessert is "chocolate soup," a cross between dark, hot chocolate pudding and dark, unbaked chocolate soufflé batter, with a quenelle of homemade coffee ice cream and a long, buttery wisp of a tuile twirling around the whole like the trail of a ballerina. The chocolate used comes from Chuao (chew-WOW), the first Venezuelan chocolatier based in the United States (from San Diego but with a branch in Coral Gables). Crème brûlée comes crisply capped, scented with cardamom, and paired with a teeny, tantalizing smudge of roasted banana ice cream. "Tart tatin" is dreadfully deconstructed into caramelized apples sandwiched between wafers of dry puff pastry.

Service is as uncomplicated as the food. Empty water glasses are filled and empty plates are removed from the table without the waiter interrupting conversation; there is no hard sell when it comes to food, dessert, or wine. Options for the last are clearly enough discerned from a limited listing laced largely with familiar, affordable (most bottles $28 to $40 and marked up about two times) European selections (and within this group mostly French).

Joe Rocco

Things not found here: TV screens. Screaming music. Hostesses with fake breasts offering vacuous greetings. That's what South Beach is for. Instead, one of the congenial waiters seats you, and once you've finished your meal, Elida will glide over to thank you for coming. A polite hospitality flows through Charlotte, reflected in phone manners when taking reservations, in tableside manners when taking orders, in a parting shot of lychee juice brought to diners after the meal. Dinner at Charlotte Bistro is an elegant, enjoyable experience. It's as simple as that.

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