First Bites

First Bites at Kane Steakhouse: Meat, Sweets & Seaweed

Whoo boy. Another steakhouse. Yippee. That's what we thought when we received the invitation from the new Kane Steakhouse's public relations company to come in and chow down. Now we're never ones to turn down a free meal but, really, a new steakhouse on South Beach? That ranked up there on our priority list somewhere between the opening parties for a souvenir shirt shop and gas station. Then we found out some of the folks from Opium Group were partly behind Kane and we were even less enthused. Did we need our fleshy slabs to come with a side of overpriced drinks, thumping music and tacky nightclub décor?

Seems we underestimated a tad.

Yes the white padded banquettes here were a bit silly and the prices seemed somewhat arbitrary, but everything else was pretty impressive. The mirror, stone and wood scheme is comfortable and classy and, though it lacks a bit of sass and warmth, the background music makes up for it. Blessedly Mel Torme, Jack Johnson, Frank Sinatra and Harry Connick set the scene instead of Usher, Kanye, Eminem and LMFAO. The servers, though still in training, seem to be in the eager-to-please mode.

Onto the eats. We simply couldn't resist ordering the roasted Berkshire bacon with apple-fennel slaw starter. Though the $18 price tag seemed a bit steep for a few slabs of pork and some slaw, curiosity got the best of us. What we got were three 1/3-inch thick slices of smoky goodness with a tangy accompaniment that, simply stated, left us wanting more. (Yes, if was shocking we wanted more pork after just downing a complimentary bacon biscuit or two, but hey...)

And we had to go for the duck fat potato chips ($14) with gorgonzola fondue and what they call "spicy tomato relish." We didn't find it spicy, nor a proper match--really, salsa is more suited for nachos, no?--but the melted cheese was so yummy we wanted to slather it all over our kneecaps and lick it off. Okay, that sounds a little weird but really, the stuff was that good. Our only real problems with the chips were 1) they weren't sturdy enough to allow us some aggressive dipping action, 2) they were too skinny to properly cup more than a few bits of tomato, and 3) they really didn't taste any different than chips made with vegetable oil.

Knowing our stomach real estate was at a premium, we opted for the 14-ounce New York strip next, but our server convinced us the 20-ounce ribeye ($44) was a better choice. Who are we to challenge a server, we thought? And we were glad we didn't, in the end. Our slab of meaty flesh showed with a thick char, perfectly pink center, and Flintstones-style bone that made us toss our rules of table etiquette out the window. This is a steak we'd come back for. The miso cod we also ordered, though delicate, sweet, and nicely flakey, wasn't a stunner.

But the highlight of the meal was a surprise: crispy fried seaweed. (See? I predicted in a previous blog we'd be seeing more of this stuff soon!) Before you recoil in horror, just think of it as roasted leaves of kale or spinach minus the acidic bite and plus a sprinkling of sugar. Though it was served with a large spoon, the best way to eat it was to just stick our paws right into the bowl and shovel it in. I don't think any of the pieces even made it to the plate. At $12 it may behoove diners to order one serving per person...

...but keep at least 1/5 of your available stomach space for dessert. Though the fruit salad with warm lemonade Jell-O ($13) sounded lame at best, it was a surprise hit. Every color of the rainbow was represented on the plate in the form of fresh berries stuck in a delicious lemony gel, paired with a cloud of sweet lychee sorbet and a scoop of tangy passion fruit granita. The Chocolate Trio ($9), a three-layer cake with a crunchy top served with mint tea ice cream and marshmallow cream, was also worth the caloric intake.

All in all, Kane is a worthwhile place to drop a few Benjamins. Really, why go to a restaurant and eat the same stuff you'd make at home? Just arrive hungry, ready to share, and willing to suspend all desire to count calories or fat grams, and you'll have a nice evening.

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Riki Altman