One of two lamb chops on my plate at Edge Steak & Bar was overcooked; it was supposed to be medium-rare but was served medium. A side order of haricots verts with mixed mushrooms was bland and contained too many crushed walnuts. Minor errors like those usually aren't noteworthy when reviewing a restaurant. But those missteps were notable because they were the only kitchen miscues I saw at Edge. Everything else in every meal — from fresh slices of sourdough bread before dinner to beautifully crafted desserts at the finish — was prepared to near perfection. And that is an unusual occurrence indeed.
There is nothing out of the ordinary about Edge's dining room inside Brickell's Four Seasons Hotel. It's handsome enough, tastefully dressed in varying shades of taupe and beige, but there is a hotel-dining-room cookie-cutter feel about it. Plus the music, including some incongruous disco, is played too loudly early in the evening.
If the weather is worthy, consider dining on the lovely terrace. The 76-seat area is lush with greenery; romantic with twinkling lights, lanterns, and gauzy curtains; and covered by a trellised canopy with a retractable awning. Except for being seven stories above Biscayne Bay, it feels like summer in the Hamptons.
Executive chef Aaron Brooks is a native Australian who spent the past decade journeying through Four Seasons kitchens from Vancouver to Boston. Chef de cuisine James King likewise earned his chops at Four Seasons venues, as well as at the Seafood Bar at the Breakers in Palm Beach and Ocean Grill at Amelia Island Plantation Resort. The clean, bright cuisine at Edge should greatly hone the already keen careers of both.
East Coast oysters, jumbo shrimp, stone crab claws, and a lobster cocktail with key lime crème fraîche constitute the shortlist of raw bar selections, which are served in bowls of crushed ice or upon grander, multi-tiered displays. Other starter options encompass "creamless" creamed corn soup with Maine lobster and a trio of salads culled at least partly from local farms.
"Appetizers" are limited to mussels with bacon and citrus; wahoo tiradito with fried olives and saffron vinaigrette; tender calamari rings simmered with chorizo in a cilantro-laced, salsa verde-spiked tomato sauce (don't miss it); and pork belly with a crisp cap caving in to soft, succulent shreds of intense Berkshire pork flavor.
Four tartares can be sampled individually ($10 to $13) or as a combo. Samplers such as those often tease the taste buds without satisfying them with enough of any single flavor profile. The quartet here comes amply portioned on four sectioned plates, each as creative as the next. Ahi tuna tickles the palate with pickled shallots, watermelon, and fresh mint. Scallops with Florida pomelo, crisp jícama sticks, and a bite of habanero taste scintillatingly tart. Corvina refreshes via strips of cucumber, green apple, and celery in a piquant aji amarillo sauce. And small, delicate cubes of Angus beef tenderloin are tossed with the traditional garnishes and a bracing burst of pickled mustard seeds. They are among the tastiest tartares in town, and the four-for-$18 price ranks them among the least expensive too.
Edge's pricing makes it the haute hotel restaurant with a heart. The most expensive appetizer — including soups, salads, and tartares — is $13. The seafood and Creekstone Farms steaks are offered in small, medium, and large cuts, with prices to match. A six-ounce Black Angus filet mignon is $27; the same size Boston cut prime strip is only $20. A terrific "butcher's cut" filet (taken from the shoulder and shaped like a little football), firmly textured and fully flavored, gets assertively seared on the 1,800-degree infrared grill.
The rich, natural taste of the beef needs no enhancement, but diners can choose from a half-dozen sauces. Malbec jus is classic — dark and sumptuously sticky from marrow in the reduced stock. Béarnaise is textbook too, meaning outrageously rich and delicious.
The only "large" steak is a humongous 24-ounce "tomahawk" with a behemoth bone that indeed resembles the namesake weapon ($45). My dinner guest and I plucked the Aussie double lamb chops from the medley of medium-size meats (a list that also includes a ten-ounce prime churrasco or slow-smoked pork ribs for $26 and a 12-ounce New York strip for $33). The one chop that was correctly cooked was luscious.
Seafoods are likewise portioned to please. Snapper and mahi-mahi, both fished from Florida waters, are available in five- or seven-ounce servings ($22 to $24 for the former, $26 to $30 for the latter). We hooked a nightly special of grilled Atlantic stone bass (AKA wreckfish), whose meaty, moist white flesh tasted like grouper but with a firmer texture. Our selection of lemon parsley butter as the sauce proved amenable, but we couldn't resist slathering the fish with that beautiful Béarnaise.
Arugula tossed with Meyer lemon dressing chaperoned the bass. Just about every main course is accompanied by a mound of those same peppery leaves, which conforms to Edge's professed "steak lite" theme.
Among the menu's "signatures" — the three main courses that aren't grilled, plus a hamburger — are all-natural chicken with a corn griddlecake and green-onion purée; Florida rock shrimp with whole-wheat pappardelle; and local corvina topped with a bright-emerald blanket of "basil crust" (which looks like a well-manicured lawn sprouting from the fish). You'd think that much basil would be overwhelming, but the herb flavor is relatively subdued and transforms the corvina into something special. So do the stunning accompaniments: a "Greek salad" of yellow and red cherry tomato halves, roasted red peppers, pitted niçoise olives, feta crumbles, and almond bits to echo dazzling splashes of neon-orange romesco sauce. Again, the price is right: $22.
The wine list is people-friendly too. About a hundred bottles are categorized by simple flavor profiles. Whites are divvied into "clean & easy," "floral & exotic," and "savory & complex"; reds are "soft & smooth," "spicy & exotic," and "rich & bold." Bottles run $40 and up, quartinos are $14 to $37, and by-the-glass wines go for $11 to $19 (and all are two-for-one from 3 to 7 p.m. seven days a week). Draft beers include Harpoon UFO White from Boston and Monk in the Trunk from Jupiter, Florida; about 20 bottles of commercial and craft brews are poured too.
Desserts by German pastry chef Marko Krancher keep the consistency rolling. A "chiboust" translates to a cylinder of chilled whipped lemon cream — sort of mousse-like — capped with bronzed meringue. Even better is a napoleon layered with seven types of chocolate, a bit of gianduja crunch, a wispy wafer on top, and homemade raspberry ice cream (made with dried raspberries) on the side.
Already sated by a steak dinner and want to end with a sweet, creamy bite? Cheesecake lollipops are $2 apiece. The rest of the delectable desserts are $7. So-called midrange restaurants routinely charge $8 to $10 for brownie-and-ice-cream treats.
Cotton candy flavored with passionfruit is handed out to some patrons along with the check, but not to others. The idea is to end the meal "with delight," but when only the privileged receive the treat, dinner can end with cotton-candy-envy instead. That was just one of numerous service quirks.
Another was bringing the gigantic tartare platter at the same time as two hot appetizers. The former occupied the entire center of the table, necessitating moving glasses about to accommodate it. The other two plates were placed at opposite corners of the table, taking up the area between place settings. That wasn't smart in terms of pacing or space.
Our waiter was otherwise knowledgeable about the food and professional in his manner, although the table wasn't cleaned between courses; dessert plates were placed upon dinner crumbs like frisbees on sand. You don't expect that at a Four Seasons property.
But you also don't expect a Four Seasons Hotel restaurant to be this accessible and affordable. Upscale hotel chefs often cite the constraints of having to provide meals that appeal to conservative families and business clientele in order to justify staid, unimaginative offerings. Chef Brooks's menu stands as a blueprint for how to produce brilliant, innovative fare that appeals to all tastes. The answer lies not in a liberal use of foie gras and truffle oil, nor in gimmickry or gargantuan servings. Quality food that looks and tastes great will fit most folks' bill, especially if it's fairly priced. That's what gives Edge the edge over its competitors.