Despite the fire that ravaged Barton G's warehouse on Monday night with millions in props and other non-food-related damages, Barton G. Weiss, the seasoned showman that he is, addressed an impressive crowd of media and industry VIPs Wednesday night in a pre-launch event for his new Adrienne Arsht Center restaurant, Prelude by Barton G. Not a mention was made of the devastating events of two days prior.
The restaurant, adorned with screensaver-like gliding jellyfish across flat
panel TVs and a wall wave motif to make you feel like you are under water,
appears -- like our first bites of its food -- to be slightly
understated for what we've come to expect from Weiss. The space is
pleasing to the eye, though, illuminated in shades of yellow against a neutral backdrop.
An impressive bar features climate-constant glass
storage cabinets and automated vacuum seal machines for the restaurant's 90 wines by the glass available
in "Taste," "Half," "Glass," and "Bottle." Prelude deserves a round or
two of applause here, with selections by Wine Director Sarah Brownwell,
currently testing for her Grand Master Sommelier-ship. Before being
seated, we sampled the Muga Rioja Riserva 2005 ($12/glass,) which was
bright and round, with a dark garnet color and deep berry perfume -- a
wine that is both elegant and highly drinkable.
not yet opened to the public, the level of service was impressive --
highly attentive and friendly without being suffocating. Each course of
our dinner arrived to the table with a pairing to introduce the
restaurant's menu design, in which each item is listed matched with a
Appetizers of flat-tasting butter-poached shrimp and a tomato
and watermelon salad (in which ingredients were not up to snuff) were
outshone by comforting entrees cooked just right, including tender
short ribs that were en croute under a light filo-like disc and seared
salmon with asparagus and shiitake mushrooms over Israeli couscous.
Desserts were cumbersome and awkward, especially the "deconstructed"
strawberry shortcake which was very much constructed of a sweet
brick-like lemon cake -- not at all like what you expect and want from a crumbly, baking soda-bolstered shortcake dough. Plating in all courses desired an added injection of
Weiss whimsy and at times had a clunky effect.
The room was a
local influencer power summit of guests like Suzy Buckley of NBC 6,
Brooke Siegel of Daily Candy, Carole Kotkin of the Miami Herald, and
Belkys Nerey of Channel 7. Will we, the unglittered of this glitterati gala, be back for an encore? Most certainly for pre-theater bite convenience, fun-to-eat bar food, and its bountiful and accessible wines.
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Prelude by Barton G
Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts
1300 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami (Downtown)