Review--Miami Beach Caffee

Sunday, July 29, 2012

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There's a new restaurant on Ocean Drive--Miami Beach Caffe. That's right Caffe with two "f"s. After walking by the storefront, the glistening all white furniture and hanging-from-ceiling crystal strands stops everyone in their tracks.  And everyone stops to walk inside to admire or take photos. Fabulous!

Tucked away on the quiet north end of Ocean Drive is this Miami chic restaurant with fabulous food to match.

The space is typical Ocean Drive cozy but ergonomically well planned. Dangling crystal strands hypnotize and invite you in, leading you up two steps with a handsome white counter and metallic stools to the right and two-seaters lined up the floor- to -ceiling windows on the left. Above this intimate seating are black acrylic hands protruding from the white wall each one holding an iPad with revolving ads. Genius!

My dining companion and I opted to sit at a table next to the window in the main room to people watch while savoring our dinner. No doubt this will be the most coveted table in peak season once this well kept secret is not so secret.

Miami Beach Caffe offers European cuisine, primarily Italian and French. Chef Ludek Munzar is a pioneer in establishing the Modern Gastronomy School in Prague, Czech Republic. Munzar's specialty is molecular gastronomy, sous vide, and the fine preparation of meat and fish. Portions are ideal for the digestive system and will earn points with your doctor and fitness trainer. There's room for dessert without overindulging.

To start we were offered an amuse bouche of marinated tuna adorned by edible cucumber gelee, orange-flavored dusting, and a lime and orange champagne foam. Fresh and refreshing, this teaser left us salivating for more.

For an appetizer I chose the marinated scallops.  After devouring the fresh grain bread with two different spreads, quintuplet shimmering purple scallops served with lime-honey gelee and sprout salad roll  was set before me. Was there a mistake? Not at all. The scallops were infused with beet juice! The presentation was something to marvel. Could it get any better? Oh indeed.

For a main entree, my friend ordered the braised beef cheeks cooked in a red wine sauce and accompanied by pureed cauliflower. The waiter was true to his words. The cheeks were tender and tasty and melted in your mouth. The presentation was priceless. Loved the periwinkle colored cauliflower.

Braised beef cheeks with pureed cauliflower  

While John ordered the beef for the main entree, another menu item kept calling my tastebuds--the Pork belly confit accompanied by grilled pork tenderloin atop mashed potatoes and sauteed spinach with garlic and sea salt. This was the crowning moment. I could not imagine a more flavorful and satisfying dish.

For dessert we ordered the passion fruit creme brulee and tiramisu.  The latter was served in a handsome square steep bowl with lid accompanied by a bowl of assorted berries.

Bowl of berries and Tiramisu

The next contender however exceeded expectations. Cooking with passion fruit requires talent so the final product is not overbearingly sweet or too tart.  The final product was perfection. Like the perfect cocktail, one could distinguish flavors and savor the passion fruit and cream without excessive sweetness or added sugars.

Passion Fruit Creme Brulee with assorted berries

For the grand finale was their signature dish--homemade ice cream prepared with liquid nitrogen.
Chef Munzar rolled out a cart with an array of mixing bowls. In one he combined fresh strawberries and cream. In a large vat he used a ladle to scoop up liquid nitrogen and gently poured it into the strawberry cream mixture. Slowly he whipped the ingredients and frozen smoke accumulated like the furry of a wildfire. In minutes the mixture was frozen and ready to serve.  I actually witnessed homemade ice cream prepared in minutes. Other liquid-nitrogen ice cream flavors include chocolate and Bailey's.

Making ice cream with liquid nitrogen

The service was impeccable. I'm not just referring to the friendliness of the staff and timing of food delivery, but in fine dining you have to know when to approach the customer's table and check to see if they need more wine, water, anything else. Checking too often can be bothersome while not monitoring means service is lacking. Both our waiter and the owner, Tomas, kept their eye on our table at a distance so as not to interrupt our conversation and replenished or drinks when they reached that invisible mark like that of a dip stick.

So you may be wondering about the restrooms. Yes that's part of the experience in fine dining.  Inside we found complementing modern decor, cleanliness and they notably use cloth towels not paper towels.

Another discerning factor is acoustics. While the trend in some popular restaurants are acoustics where you have to lean over and raise your voice at your dining companion, the Miami Beach Caffe adheres to a higher standard. No bouncing voices or echoes or shouting. Classy.

All in all it was an unexpected surprise in the middle of the summer to discover this diamond in the rough competition of Ocean Drive. High standards from the Fabulous decor to the tantalizing Food--that explains the two "f"s in Caffe!  I give this 5 out of 5 stars!

Make your reservation. At the restaurant ask for the owner Tomas, tell him Christine from My Fabulous Florida or Art Deco Tours sent you,  and you'll receive a complimentary amuse bouche, ( a free taste sampling)! Bon apetit!  Share your experience by leaving a comment below! Just click on comment.

Miami Beach Caffe
1412 Ocean Drive
Miami Beach, FL  33139

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