Park Avenue may carry big-time clout in other cities, but in Miami Beach, it is a virtually unknown street. It is behind a museum and a street where you might score some parking. That is, until now. A few months ago, a charming boutique hotel, Vintro Hotel & Kitchen, opened with a restaurant that really awakens the palate and neighborhood.
The fresh flavors hail from Greek-born chef and restaurateur Giorgios Nikolas Bakatsias, who teamed up with Eataly alum Keith Suarino as the executive chef. Expect fresh flavors of the Mediterranean and Old World cooking methods. The tagline is "inspired by the ingredients" and this kind of style is a welcome addition to the over-complicated cuisine of South Beach.
The hanging buckets of fresh ingredients set the tone for a fresh and healthful meal. The narrow restaurant is charming and rustic. The meal begins with warm bread and a house-marinated bowl of olives. From there, we recommend the Greek seasonal vegetables ($12) with feta slices and a lemon yogurt.
Another tasty treat is the side of fire-roasted Brussels sprouts ($7) with almonds and bee's wax honey. It can seem a bit too sweet at first, but pair it with a roasted chicken and it is perfection.
The whole roasted chicken ($26) with orange and rosemary is simple and cooked to perfection. The tartness of the oranges with the sweetness of the sprouts is a perfect pairing.
The fresh ingredients also translate to the cocktails. The Park Avenue ($14) was a favorite with Irish whiskey, fresh pineapple juice, Barenjager, and rosemary. A gingery palate-cleansing cocktail was the Marley ($16) with Jamaican rum, fresh ginger, orange and lime juice, and simple syrup.
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The sweet finish to this delightfully fresh meal was the passion panna cotta ($8) that surprisingly came in a big bowl (as opposed to turned upside-down on a plate) with the tropical taste of passion fruit coming through every spoonful with the herbaceous hints of Thai basil.
This new restaurant and hotel are a welcome addition to this sleepy part of South Beach and our senses were definitely awakened.
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