UPDATE DECEMBER 2017
No longer recommended.
Bal Harbour’s new Ritz-Carlton has seen many changes in the past. It went from a Regent to One Bal Harbour and now the Ritz is managing things. In all the previous years they couldn’t sustain a restaurant of good quality. I am happy to report that under the Ritz management they have finally assembled a dream team that delivers. Let’s give a warm welcome to the birth of the Artisan Beach House at 10295 Collins Avenue.
Under the leadership of Paula da Silva of Hells Kitchen fame, and a stint at the Eden Roc with 1500 Degrees, she is bringing her talents to Miami. Joining her for the ride is her best friend and Chef de Cuisine Tony Coddington. He was last seen running Sea Grape under Michelle Bernstein. He has also worked in some pretty fine kitchens like DANIEL and Le Bernadin. (Side note on how close they are, Tony recently got married and Chef Da Silva was his best man.) Supporting them is nightlife mogul, Seth Greenberg and Brian Skogen, director of food and beverage. Thus, the dream team is in place. They are in charge of serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and all special events that guests may wish to book at the hotel. So, let’s say you want to get married at the Ritz, you will be lucky enough to have this glorious team working for your dream day.
Chef Silva uses great ingredients and does them well, her cooking packs big flavours, even though she calls her food rustic and approachable.
I think this is a bit modest.
Her dishes may read like comfort food but they are ambitious and infused with dynamic, energizing flavours. They call the style rustic with a global twist. The chefs cook some of their favourite dishes they’ve experienced from their childhood or from traveling to places like Paris, New Orleans, New York and Montreal. So you may see things on the ever changing menu like Poutine, New England clam chowder, or beef stroganoff. Sharing is encouraged here but is not a necessity.
Our server Joselyn Ruiz was most helpful in describing her favourite dishes in an animated and passionate way. I love servers who love food. Everything she recommended was bang on. The octopus with vadoyvan carrots, in a yogurt and cilantro sauce is outstanding. It’s beautifully prepared, and a tender, tasty dish. The paté with charred bread and pickled vegetables is also delightful. I was particularly fond of the carpaccio of sea scallops that were served with finger lime (a first for me), jalapeño and xvoo. Finger limes have the texture of caviar but burst in a lime flavour. They come from Australia. The local wahoo ceviche on salty, crispy yucca chips, dressed in a carrot juice, with fresno chili is a good rendition.
The crispy pork belly is a great balance of crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and served with rice crackers, a lime aioli and homemade kimchee. I am not always a fan of pork belly as I find it too fatty, but the preparation here works well. Another great dish is the charred kale. It’s accompanied with cubes of squash, pablano, and minas cheese in a black garlic dressing. Charring the kale adds another dimension to the salad, making it a notable highlight of the meal for me. For our main, we tried the braised short ribs on a bed of tagliatelle with wild mushrooms in a cream sauce. This plate is like a beef stroganoff on steroids. There’s a real richness to this dish.
To wash this all down we chose a couple of glasses of Cakebread Chardonnay. I must also comment on their craft cocktails. I managed to try the gin fizz, it was light and refreshing. It’s composed of Tyler’s of London dry gin, thyme, lime juice, aquafaba and soda.
Dessert didn’t disappoint either. Joselyn recommended her favourites, and again we couldn’t argue with her choices. The sticky toffee cake with salted bourbon ice cream delivered a sweet and salty combo. I usually find this dessert too sweet, but here it is awesome. My favourite was the salted caramel panna cotta. The filling is velvety smooth and had caramel and chocolate layers and then it was topped with caramel popcorn, making this exciting in a different way.
The restaurant is more casual than I thought. The bar and lounge areas are lovely, keeping with the coastal feel with light colours, it is very beach chic, but the main dining room has a coffee shop feel to it. I was told they are rethinking this room and might make some changes. I recommend sitting outside, weather permitting. You will enjoy sweeping views of the Atlantic and the Haulover cut.
The team here is fine tuned and very talented. Welcome to Bal Harbour.