Chef James Wierzelewski has cooked in exotic locations for 20-some years, gathering gastronomic ideas from places the way tourists collect T-shirts. The menu at Vix, however, is no hodgepodge homage to his travels but rather a short, sensible compilation of mostly Mediterranean and Asian dishes, with a few tips of the toque toward Central and South America. The arrival of a basket brimming with fresh-from-the-tandoor-oven naan bread is the first sign Vix is paying attention to details. A ceviche of tequila-and-lime-soaked saltwater prawns exudes pristine quality, while grape-leaf-encased sausages of minced Moroccan-spiced Merguez lamb let you know this chef isn't afraid to heat things up. Full flavors and sharp contrasts are displayed in entrées such as Basque-style loup de mer, a firm-fleshed white fish fillet seared and dressed with chorizo-fortified tomato bouillon; fresh, meaty artichoke hearts; and a sweet red pimiento polenta. Risotto was also exemplary. No such luster brightened a dull "chow mein" of Hong Kong barbecued duck and lobster, but we didn't say Vix was perfect.
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Having once been stung by a man-of-war, I was less than excited to be seated with my back to a tall, narrow tank filled with gracefully flowing jellyfish, glowing translucently in blue neon light. The waiter's chatter about chef Jam...