La Gloutonnerie Open For Business

Every evening, swarms of rich, hungry people roam the blocks south of Fifth Street in South Beach, looking for a place to plunk down big bucks for an upscale dinner.

Or at least that seems to be the scenario envisioned by a couple of restaurateurs who recently moved into the neighborhood. Estiatorio Milos, which debuted at First Street two weeks ago, offers extravagantly priced imports from the Mediterranean. La Gloutonnerie opens its doors across the street starting today, in the space formerly occupied by Au Pied de Cochon. The owners of that swank French establishment entertained a similar vision of steering some of the hordes away from Prime Italian and Prime One Twelve. And also away from Red the Steakhouse, Smith & Wollensky, Joe's Stone Crab...

Gloutonnerie has its roots in Mexico City. The moniker refers to an overstuffed glouton sandwich invented by Marco Cooley, who sold them in a small spot that he kept expanding until it became the nowadays very popular Gloutonnerie restaurant.

The South Beach menu is upscale French. A quartet of raw bar oysters range from $18 to $24 (Kumamoto) per half-dozen. Cold appetizers include Jabugo ham sliced tableside with fresh tomatoes and traditional bread ($38); terrine of foie gras with homemade fig chutney and fennel bread ($26); Wagyu carpaccio with truffle mayonnaise ($22). Hot apps include a relative bargain: black cod brandade with yellow polenta and white truffle oil ($14). Half a dozen escargot are $12, coquille Saint Jacques is $21, steak tartare is $27. You can get a bowl of rosemary-scented green lentil-and-Jabugo soup for $9.

Six pasta/risotto choices, $18 to $28, include losbster risotto with smoked pancetta; linguine with shrimp, scallops and avocado; and fresh homemade pasta with truffle sauce. Seafood entrees ($34 to $38) encompass sauteed turbot, grilled swordfish and yellowfin tuna, and whole Maine lobster (market price). Lowest-end steak is a twelve-ounce New York Strip for $42. A 16-ounce cut of the same is $48, as is a 10-ounce tournedos Rossini (filet mignon with foie gras and truffle sauce). On the other hand, you can nab a roasted organic half-chicken with herbs de Provence for $25. Add that $9 lentil soup and you've got a two-course Miami Spice-like deal.

I'm not saying the dining experience here, or at Milos, won't be worth the money. But one does have to wonder how many pricey establishments this one neighborhood can sustain.

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