Eden doesn't tempt

Christopher Lee has enjoyed great success as a chef in New York City. He headed the kitchen at Gilt when it nabbed two Michelin stars, then helmed Charlie Palmer's Aureole and maintained that restaurant's one Michelin star (he recently left the latter establishment). His "new American classics" style of cooking is highly praised. So when word circulated that Lee would become consulting chef for Eden South Beach, Miami locals were naturally enthused. Unfortunately, it appears the heralded toque left his gastronomic muse somewhere north of the Mason-Dixon Line.

Eden is located in the former Talula space on subdued 23rd Street (but just 'round the corner from the two Chows). The previously staid décor has been minimally enlivened with a green-patterned panel covering the main wall (including modern artwork that clashes terribly), and a Garden of Eden mural above an open kitchen. The layout hasn't changed: There's a similar seating capacity of 60, and the same bar setup runs along the left side as before. The room wasn't much to look at as Talula, and it still isn't.

On clement evenings, most folks opt for outdoor seating in a lush green patio behind the restaurant. Tables there are not set until used, so the array of empty white plastic tabletops lends a cheap air. On one evening, the outside bar was barren as well; on a weekend return, it featured a few bottles of booze on the shelves. Music, whether piped in or spun by a DJ, is too loud and exactly the opposite of what one would expect to hear in a paradisiacal setting. If the original Garden of Eden had looked and sounded like this one, Adam and Eve would've bolted long before banishment.

Location Info


Eden South Beach

210 23rd St.
Miami Beach, FL 33139

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: South Beach


210 23rd St., Miami Beach; 305-397-8760; edensouthbeach.com. Lunch Tuesday through Friday 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Dinner Monday 7 to 10 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday 7 p.m. to midnight, Friday and Saturday 7 p.m. to 1 a.m., Sunday 7 to 10 p.m.; Brunch Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

View our Eden South Beach slide show.

Appetizers are divided into eight each of "temptations" and "first courses." The former grouping includes hummus, fried calamari, beef sliders, crab rolls, jerked fries, and blackened chicken quesadillas. Granted, one can find the same starter selection at any T.G.I. Fridays, but the sliders at Eden are prepared with Wagyu beef and the crab rolls culled from Dungeness. Plus prices are much higher: $16 for the crab roll, which brought four cucumber-wrapped packets of sweet, shredded crab meat garnished with candied macadamia nuts, passion fruit sauce, and Kahlua sauce. It proved too sweet a medley — and since Eden touts a strong "farm-to-table" ethos (an unoriginal spin), why ship Dungeness from California when we've got stone crabs right offshore?

We began our meals with a complimentary and quite delectable crab dip accompanied by crisp wafers of herbed flatbread. A quartet of greaseless quesadilla triangles contained small nuggets of blackened chicken padded with avocado, onion, and cilantro. It came with a dollop of sour cream, teeny dice of pico de gallo, and similarly small cut of caramelized pineapple. It was tasty, as was a cone of skinny, jerk-seasoned fries with a dish of smoked tomato dip. The hummus, which we sampled as a garnish on a lamb loin entrée plate, was fresh, loose, and lemony. These three items cost $6 to $9; the other temptations run $11 to $19. There wasn't a sour note among the trio, but are hummus, quesadillas, and fries any way to begin a meal at a chef-driven restaurant in 2011?

The second set of starters is comprised of another international mash: a Caprese-like salad with heirloom tomatoes, burrata cheese, and pesto; "market" sushi; beef carpaccio with Parmesan cheese, pickled onions, and black truffle dressing; tuna tartare with kim chee and scallion pancakes... Please wake me when an appetizer is mentioned that you haven't heard of a hundred times before (such as, for instance, Florida frogs' legs with asparagus cauliflower, Iberico pancetta, and poached quail egg, which is on the Aureole menu in New York). To be fair, there are two very creative dishes in this category: a "Reuben" of pastrami pork belly, raclette cheese, coleslaw, and "Russian dressing"; and apple-chestnut ravioli flecked with pecorino cheese in sage brown butter sauce. The last featured five small, square pockets plumped with a smooth, delicate, delicious purée of more apple than chestnut; sage effectively chaperoned the sweet flavors.

The Reuben was more problematic. It is true the waiter warned us it contained no bread or bread substitute — one can only assume that pronouncement was spurred by persistent customer complaints over the lack. The belly boasted a rye note or two, but because the trio of small slab was cooked in a deep-fryer, the pork inherited a chicharron-chintziness of texture and taste. Melted, fondue-friendly raclette cheese paired perfectly with the meat, as did the vinegary coleslaw. The use of chicken jus with traditional Russian dressing ingredients (minus ketchup and mayonnaise) wasn't as convincing. But more to the point: A pastrami Reuben on rye bread is more satisfying, and it offers better bang-for-the-buck than this $14 mimicry.

Some 70 global wines are offered in a very sample-friendly format, served in two-ounce sips, six-ounce tastes, a bottomless glass, or by the bottle. Waiters were friendly too and, for the most part, efficient. But management of the room felt more corporate than neighborly — and the clientele seemed tilted toward tourist rather than local. It seemed sort of like a hotel restaurant without a hotel.

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SoBe Food Review
SoBe Food Review

i think this review is totally off the mark - i had an awesome meal at this place. there was a great vibe and service was fantastic. i am not sure that mr klien knows what he is talking about.


I would say that this review is right on the money. In addition, what is needed on that block a neighborhood spot with a little flair. Unfortunetly, they have been unable, or unwilling, to cater to those that would and could pay not only their own rent but probably the rent of the restaurant as well. I look forward to the NEXT restaurant in its place.