Ocean Drive's newest tenant, Miami Beach Caffe & Restaurant, is a chic-looking addition to the famous beachside strip. With modern white décor and bold red touches, the unoriginally named European-style restaurant opened its doors this month to SoBe tourists and denizens.
When Short Order visited recently, we watched passersby light up at the sight of the cool-looking place, notice free tables, and ogle the steeply priced menu.
Entrées at Miami Beach Caffe & Restaurant go for $27 to $36. The menu features complex, French-inspired fare and an impressive full bar. We ordered the rucola, Gorgonzola, and strawberry salad ($15 for half portion, $19 for full) and grilled ahi tuna ($30). The salad was loaded with salt and overpowering cheese; the tuna arrived cold in a bubbly butter sauce with slimy bacon and artichoke. But the food wasn't what we came for.
We came for the ice cream. For $14, a cart filled with liquid nitrogen will roll out, and in a blur of swirling, steaming clouds, homemade ice cream is made in a spectacle right before your eyes. Flavor choices include chocolate, strawberry, and Bailey's.
It's cool. And people will stop and stare at your table.
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However, there are two problems with the entertaining process. One: Ocean Drive sits directly on the beach, which is windy, and liquid nitrogen, which burns at the touch, doesn't stay put as it's mixed inches from your dinner table. Two: Although the ice cream has potential to be a refreshing palate-cleanser, when we tried it, the aftertaste was slightly that of butter.
Miami Beach Caffe and Restaurant, with its flashy décor and pricey menu, might need some corrective work, but the impressive bar and sexy vibe could mean survival. Especially if it continues to broadcast expositions like its liquid nitrogen ice cream to the Ocean Drive wanderers, who are, more often than not, starving for something to snap a picture of. Bragging rights regarding a wild time in Miami Beach must be earned, after all.