Baby Jane Brings a Cocktail-Forward Menu and Gastropub Fare to Brickell

If former nightlife kingpin-turned-restaurateur Jason Odio knows anything, it's how to carefully choose the location of each of his projects.

With Sidebar, he gave Brickell a hip hot spot it desperately needed. With Ariete, he, partner Roman Jones, and chef Michael Beltran were able to help jump-start the restaurant renaissance in Coconut Grove. It's a smart way of doing business, because if Sidebar or Ariete were in Wynwood or South Beach, they'd face stiff competition and high rents. And let's not forget Ariete was originally supposed to open on Calle Ocho, an area with an abundance of restaurants.

Baby Jane — Odio, Jones, and Beltran's newest concept — follows that model. Located on the northeast corner of 500 Brickell Ave., the spot falls somewhere in the middle of Sidebar and Ariete. It's not a bar/nightclub, but it's not a restaurant. Instead, Baby Jane serves cocktails that are meant to be sipped, not chugged, and gastropub fare that complements the mixology-forward concept.

Oh, and in case you are wondering, the name doesn't refer to the Joan Crawford and Bette Davis classic What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?

"Everyone keeps asking me that," Odio says. "I never heard of the film until I opened this place. I'll have to watch it."

Instead, Odio says, Baby Jane came from a list of names he has handy.

Naming origins aside, Baby Jane opens to the public tonight, May 3. New Times was invited to a press preview to sample some dishes and drinks. When I entered the spot last Wednesday night, it was obvious the bar was still very much a work in progress — the smell of varnish was present but not strong enough to be bothersome.

The work in progress also extended to the menu, with our bartender Carmen apologizing every time she had to deny our cocktail request because she didn't have the ingredients handy. 

Baby Jane does have a few booths running along its walls, but I opted to sit at the bar, which in hindsight was a good choice that I highly recommend. The cocktail-forward nature of the joint means this really doesn't feel like a restaurant at all. Here, I could see myself ordering drinks and bites to nibble on as the night wears on. Which is exactly what I did, beginning with the Bebito ($13), made with Illegal mezcal, lime juice, simple syrup, Luxardo maraschino, green chartreuse, muddled jalapeño, and rosemary. The not-too-sweet concoction was balanced out with the heat of the jalapeño.

The Jane & Juice ($14) was also a wise choice. Made with Bombay Sapphire gin, cucumber bitters, lime juice, St-Germain, and egg white, it reminded me of a meringue cookie.

Despite the food feeling like it's playing second chair to the drinks, the offerings are plentiful and conducive to keeping patrons at the bar drinking and eating. Dishes are small but heavy, making them perfect for nibbling or sharing.

The fresh burrata ($13) is sourced from Mimmo's Market in North Miami and complemented with toasted pine nuts, saba, and extra-virgin olive oil.

The kale oysters Rockefeller ($4) are served on the half-shelf and enhanced with a sauce of shallots, garlic, and Parmesan.

The steak tartare ($14) is a flat-iron steak with shallots, chives, crisp malanga and capers, lime juice, egg yolk, served with grilled bread. Another meat-centric option is pork and plantain ($15), with pork belly, plantains, pearl onions, and caramel.

And although I didn't sample them, there is also a burger, a frita, and a chicken sandwich on the menu in case you don't feel like sharing.

I capped off the meal with a Bad Mamey Jamma blondie ($8), which thanks to the extra moisture of the mamey jam renders the blondie amazingly fudgy.

When Baby Jane finally debuts next week, expect most of the stock shortages to be addressed and the Alpine lodge feel of the space to be more polished. In addition to offering indoor seating, it will also boast a 20-seat outdoor area that is thankfully not too close to the noise of Brickell Avenue.

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