BEST RESTAURANT IN COCONUT GROVE - 2004
Readers' Choice: Cheesecake Factory
Upon opening in 2002, Bizcaya immediately became the top all-purpose restaurant destination in the Grove. For those looking for a dressed-to-impress place to take business colleagues or conservative visiting parents, the posh Ritz-Carlton setting was sure to please -- as was that portion of the menu devoted to straightforward grilled meats and fish (available with a selection of sauces). For more adventurous diners, there was the menu's other component: Willis Loughhead's culinary innovations. The dramatic division actually made for a slightly schizophrenic identity. No more. Though several staid steaks remain, as do some heirloom tomatoes, the Loughhead has revamped Bizcaya's offerings to focus on dishes reflecting the same creative concept as his wildly popular fresh linguine with Maine lobster Bolognese: updated, upscale continental classics. Beef Wellington, for instance, has been reinvented as wild salmon Wellington, with lobster sauce à l'americaine and a scallop duxelle in place of the old dish's liver pâté. With the substitution of stone crab, veal Oscar has become newly Americanized. Even duck à l'orange has been revolutionized as a three-part dish featuring blood-orange-glazed leg confit, crispy-skinned magret, and Grand Marnier foie-gras mousse -- an exciting journey from the trite and tradition-bound to cutting-edge yet accessible cuisine.