Nearly 20 years ago, an upscale eatery named Baleen won New Times' award for best restaurant in Coconut Grove. At the time, the waterfront locale was a hit among locals, pouring pricey wine and slinging stone crabs, steaks, and oysters shucked tableside.
But after a change of ownership, Baleen was gone for good — until now.
In Sunny Isles Beach, Baleen Kitchen is now open inside the Solé on the Ocean hotel. Think of it as a more casual and energetic cousin to the long-shuttered Coconut Grove location.
Here, chef Adam Votaw, who spent time at the Dining Room at Little Palm Island in the Keys, is behind an eclectic menu of meat, seafood, and comfort. Divided into seven sections, it offers a number of small plates alongside chilled shellfish, grilled items, and pizzas.
Make sure to sample the Baleen sliders, layered with bacon, guacamole, cheddar cheese, crispy onions, and spicy mayo ($11); or the spicy tuna tacos, filled with avocado, toasted sesame seed, and sriracha aïoli ($14).
Move onto a linguini Bolognese, in which short rib and sirloin are doused in a tomato sauce ($23), or the skirt steak
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For dessert, go for a chocolate lava cake, a Florida key lime pie with graham cracker-cashew crust, or a cinnamon-apple tart ($7 to $9).
Baleen Kitchen features an extensive cocktail list as well, ranging from the Hot and Humid — blended with tequila, pineapple, jalapeño, and cucumber — to the Abagail, a mixture of limoncello, Aperol, and lemon. There are also six different renditions of a Moscow mule, including an American version with bourbon and ginger beer, and a Thai variant fused with lychee liqueur, spicy pineapple, and passionfruit. Cocktails are priced between $11 and $13.
With a 4,200-square-foot space, Baleen Kitchen features an indoor dining room along with an outdoor patio along the ocean. Parts of the restaurant can be reserved for private events, and the kitchen offers catering for large parties.
Baleen Kitchen. 17315 Collins Ave., Sunny Isles Beach; 786-923-9305; soleontheocean.com. Open daily 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Valet is complimentary for diners.