Juvia: Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen

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Juvia sits on the penthouse level of the Herzog & de Meuron-designed building at 1111 Lincoln Rd. like a sparkling jewel set in concrete. After a brief elevator ride, guests step into an open-air dining room with vertical gardens designed by Patrick Blanc. The rest of the space is defined by nature, with sweeping views of South Beach and beyond, and a trackless retractable roof protecting diners from Mother Nature's wrath.

Indoors, another dining room is softly hued in taupe, cream, and light gray, wrapped in windowed walls, and covered in organic materials such as Brazilian wood flooring and ceilings, woven chairs framed in petrified wood, and another Blanc wall of foliage. An illuminated, amethyst-topped bar takes up one side of the room, and a totally open kitchen steams and smokes on the opposite end. Music, unfortunately, is typically lousy and loud, but it's an exquisite space with a soaring, panoramic vista.

Hustling about the kitchen are some two dozen cooks -- more than enough to spoil the broth. Fortunately, though, the sizable culinary contingent doesn't spoil anything. But neither does it quite meet the high bar of expectations set by Juvia's lofty prices and star-studded resumés.

How star-studded? Executive chef Laurent Cantineaux is a protégé of Daniel Boulud's. The other executive chef is Sunny Oh, whom locals know from his decade at the helm of Miami's Nobu. Executive sous-chef Kaoru Chang likewise labored at the house of Morimoto, while corporate pastry chef Gregory Gourreau worked with Alain Ducasse and François Payard. Even if the team's backgrounds weren't so stellar, diners could be excused for expecting a lot simply because there are two executive chefs and a brigade of cooks (there are 210 seats indoors and out).

Read the full review of Juvia here.

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