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When Restaurant 1826, the sleek new contemporary American restaurant helmed by two-star Michelin chef Danny Grant, opened just a few weeks ago in a modern glass-enclosed building among the hustle and bustle of South Beach, we had no idea what we were in for.  The three-story restaurant is separated into two section; the first level is for quiet, sophisticated and elegant dining; and the second/third levels make up the lounge, which is designed for late-night cocktails, people-watching and sitting by the “fire” (which are illuminated on dozens of video screens).

Before I go on, I have to say that this was the best meal I’ve had in Miami – hands down – and I’ve had a lot of great meals here. It wasn’t just the great food, flawless service and and beautiful modern décor – it was the care and thought that went into every moment of our experience – and the drama and surprises along the way – from the sparkly stockings on the hostess as she ascended the stairs to show us to the dining room, to the thrilling presentations and unusual combinations.

The menu is separated into three sections – the Harvest (vegetable–themed dishes), the Hook (seafood dishes), and the Hunt (meat/fowl dishes).  The waiter encouraged us to try several from each category, as the dishes were designed to be shared. The chef also sources many of his ingredients locally – the result is a well–thought out and expertly executed menu of exquisite dishes that will, as our waiter told us, “take us on a flavor journey.”

The journey, it turned out, was simultaneously exhilarating and mouthwatering. Chef Grant surprises with elements of molecular gastronomy mixed in with classic American dishes, served up in surprising new ways.

Some of the highlights of our journey at Restaurant 1826 included:

* Roulade biscuits two ways – filled with kalamata olives and caramelized onions; and/or bacon and parmesan – and served with lime butter
* Cucumber Gazpacho, silky smooth with almonds and bread crumbs, flavored with dill and basil, and garnished with frozen gin shavings (“snow”) that literally smoked, and then slowly melted into the savory mix
* Artichokes Barigoule (the best dish of the evening), a hearty layering of artichokes, oranges, guanciale (pig jowl) and cloud-like gnocchi
* Lobster & Crab – poached with scallop dumplings, spring onions and, topped with an anise liqueur foam that provided both flavor and drama

We also tried several of the hand-crafted signature cocktails, which were equally surprising and delicious, e.g. Their most popular drink, Strawberry Incense, made with Absolut Elys, strawberry puree, sage, lemon and black pepper simple syrup; or my favorite – In the Woods, made up of Bourbon, stone alpine liqueur (giving it a piney and minty flavor), lime
juice, simple syrup  and ginger beer.

If only we had had room for dessert!

This is a flavor journey that is well worth the trip.  Just don’t wait too long to start your journey.  Otherwise you may not be able to get in.

1826 Restaurant & Lounge
1826 Collins Ave.
Miami Beach, FL
T: (305) 763-8860

MAIN DINING ROOM
Tuesday -Thursday: 6:00pm -1:00am
Friday & Saturday: 6:00pm -3:00am

BAR & LOUNGE
Tuesday -Thursday: 6:00pm -1:00am
Friday & Saturday: 6:00pm -3:00am
www.1826collins.com

1826 Restaurant & Lounge on Urbanspoon

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