It's an old complaint: Miami needs more French food. Enter Yann Rio, who owned three restaurants in France, including Sequoia in Montpellier, which earned a "three forks" designation in the Michelin Guide.
Rio has moved to the States and delivers French fusion with nontraditional ingredients to Miami. Nothing but the Best held its grand opening last week, introducing itself to the Roads neighborhood with a party. Short Order sampled some menu items. Check out pictures after the jump.
Rio trained under French master chefs at Michelin-starred restaurants, including Hotel Crillon, Precatelan, and Bernard Loiseau in Saulieu (all in Paris). He was named Maître Restaurateur de France in 2008. He decided on Miami because he saw a need for this type of food here.
"I haven't seen anyone doing this kind of cooking in Miami -- or really anywhere I've
been in the States," says Rio, who is still learning English. "There are touches of things you can only find in France, even though the dishes are not at all traditional French cuisine."
Rio is all about experimenting. He came up with this pretty cocktail on the spot during our visit, calling it "raspberry French kiss." Strawberry soup, raspberry marmalade, cilantro, celery, lemongrass, and ginger are mixed with gin and topped with champagne for a cocktail unlike anything you've ever had. At first we were skeptical, but as we sipped (and sipped), all of its levels of flavors gradually revealed themselves.
Rio is also responsible for the restaurant's gorgeous décor. Black water glasses defy the laws of physics, and work by local artist Christian Bernard warms the modern space.
We were served large platters containing minute samplings of multiple appetizers, entrées, and desserts. Risotto croquettes with a mint sauce and truffle-flavored chicken broth were our favorites and examples of how Rio adds twists to create his nontraditional offerings. Homemade foie gras terrine and crispy goat cheese served with lavender dressing are exemplary of French technique. Fresh smoked tataki salmon is served with a mascarpone and passionfruit sauce.
Instead of going heavy on the butter and cream, Rio opts for more olive oil and yogurt-based cooking. "It makes my food lighter and better for Miamians, especially when eating late," he explains.
Flank steak is cooked a la plancha with a bacon-flavored bordelaise sauce and pommes frites. Lasagnette (a thinner, flatter, and broader type of noodle) is filled with Gorgonzola and roasted in Parmesan and béchamel. Beef tenderloin is cooked a la plancha with salt and pepper. Perfectly tender duck magret is glazed with tamarind sauce and placed atop fresh baked spinach. Veggie risotto is healthful, creamy, and delicious.
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Pistachio and white chocolate fondant is nicely balanced. Caramel-flavored chocolate mousse is served with lemon sorbet. Both are delicious. Lemon tarte has rosemary infusion and salty caramel. And last but not least is strawberry soup, the same concoction used in our cocktail. It's cold, contains green tea syrup, and will make you wonder why strawberry soup isn't a thing. It is now at Nothing but the Best.
Follow Carla on Twitter @ohcarlucha