BEST RESTAURANT FOR INTIMATE CONVERSATION (2005)
1120 Collins Avenue
www.chefmark.com You two lovebirds want a cozy nest for cooing to each other? Fly down to the Nash Hotel, site of Mark's South Beach. Choose your venue: a stylish indoor dining room with mahogany walls and upholstered booths (elegant but not stuffy or dull) or, beyond French doors, a romantic 30-seat terrace by the pools. Music plays at a reasonable level, the lights are appropriately dim, the waitstaff attentive yet discreet. Perfect. So is the wine list, an array of mid- to high-end California bottles to pair with every fragrant flavor combination on the menu -- and the contemporary American menu at this five-year-old restaurant brims with bold taste sensations. Legendary local chef Mark Militello is a master at juggling diverse and innovative ingredients without ever losing balance, and executive chef Larry LaValley, from New York's Daniel, Union Pacific, and Bouley's Bakery, orchestrates Militello's compositions in enrapturing fashion. Share bites of your duck confit with champagne mango glaze, or black grouper and artichoke hash in sweet herb broth. Sensational food is sensual food, and sensual food encourages intimacy. But talk gets you only so far. After that it's time to leave the words behind and let passion render you both speechless -- pastry chef Juan Villaparedes's Gianduja chocolate terrine and double chocolate sorbet will do just that.
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