Gigi: Not As Good As Billed

As far as restaurants go, Midtown's Gigi is incontestably the hippest spot in all of Miami-Dade County. Who knew this city had so many good looking people until the big windows overlooking North Miami Avenue began framing their stylish faces?

The intimate, sleek layout, warm atmosphere, and delightful servers make every trip a pleasurable experience. The one barrier to perfection is the food.

Although it boasts former Top Chef contestant Jeff McInnis as its head chef, is affordable, and at times tasty, the quality of the product is inconsistent. Let's start at the bottom. (By the way, prices and offerings change often at this joint, so some of our listings might be outdated.)

The pork ramen is a tragedy ($14). After eating the oddly textured noodles, you will want your $13.50 back and your soup replaced with $.50 Top Ramen. If there's a loser on the menu, this one is it. Everything else is, well, a relative matter of preference. People really dig the melons with lime and chiles ($3), which are an admittedly an inexpensive and refreshing treat, but for all of that heat, they still manage to taste bland, like they need salt or to be re-conceived entirely.

The local sweet corn ($3) topped with tofu was well presented. Though it was one of the best items available, it was removed from the menu a few months ago. Either way, this is a dish better done with queso blanco at a Mexican restaurant. The buns are filling and have a light fluffy shell. Though the chicken and pork buns lack abundant flavor, the tender shredded brisket ($7) with pico de gallo and something resembling sour cream are worth wolfing down.

The culinary stars of the joint are the homemade pickles, which come with the pork belly BLT ($9). Presented in a little sealed jar, the cucumber, onion, and cauliflower pickles are sweet, savory, and completely delicious. They should be placed on all of the aforementioned foods to reinforce the hype.

Other dishes that didn't live up to billing by ouyr own Paula Nino and Lee Klein: the shiitake mushrooms and the chocolate cookies. Well priced but nothing special.

All in all, Gigi is a beautiful restaurant with many good dishes. It's just always interesting when a restaurant's look and location make it the place to eat. Of course, there are other perks, real perks, like the extremely late hours and cheap beer. No more Denny's.

Monday through Thursday Gigi is open from 6 p.m. till 3 a.m. and weekend hours are even better, open till 5 a.m. Lunch is available noon to 4 p.m. Gigi is located at 3470 N Miami Avenue.

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