The waitress at George's Kitchen is not clumsy. She might spill yuzu on your shirt, splash water near your cup, and drop a knife on the floor. But under no circumstances should she be considered a klutz.
When you sit at the bar of this upscale midtown locale, which debuted in January, you can look into the open kitchen. Georges-Eric Farge, alongside partner and former Miami Dolphins and University of Miami quarterback Craig Erickson, constructed the space to resemble a theater. Farge, the kooky restaurateur who founded George's in Coconut Grove in 2008 and South Miami in 2010, scattered bulky leather chairs around its borders. He crammed seats tightly -- so tightly, in fact, that exiting requires scrambling similar to Erickson's moves on the gridiron.
In the kitchen, cooks add oil to wilted spinach, sear octopus on the flat-top, and reheat ham-stuffed gougères in the oven. Although the dining room features regular seating and a communal table, the kitchen bar functions as a main attraction. To its owners, this concept of cooking-as-theater probably seemed like a brilliant idea.
But it wasn't.
When a cook cracks a quail egg's shell, accidentally tears the yolk, and fumbles to discard the evidence, no one should be watching. When a waitress serves diners from behind heavy chairs and struggles to refill a drink or to pass a menu, no one wants to be looking. The kitchen bar format at George's Kitchen amplifies the pettiest of its flaws.
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Eventually, though, the cook triumphs over the teeny egg. The waitress delivers the restaurant's complimentary rosé champagne, and George's strong suits take center stage: the eclectic yet French-leaning bill of fare, the refined cooking of a Michelin-rated chef, meals delivered so efficiently that they average 60 minutes or less in length. George's Kitchen may struggle with format and finesse. What it lacks, though, it almost makes up for with its classic fare.
Follow Emily on Twitter @EmilyCodik.