It’s saying a lot in Miami when I revisit a place I’ve liked two years later and it’s even better than I remembered. Such is Baoli Miami, 1906 Collins Avenue.(T.305-674-8822) with the ambiance, vibe and people watching you’d expect from a restaurant/club whose provenance is Cannes. And it does one better — friendly, attentive service and now, a new Asian inspired menu that had me craving more.
But first the ambiance. From the outside with its opaque exterior, bouncer and red carpet with stanchions, you’d think it’s another SoBe club. Not so. Two rooms offer a choice of setting — a garden courtyard with banquette and table seating looking out onto fuschia and green lighting that highlight the Baoli name. There’s also a lively bar scene there. Then there’s the interior space also with table seating, the dj stand and a bar. This is where the dancing happens after 10:30 or 11 .The music is great fun and never so loud that you can’t hear yourself or your companion talk. And every night is party night as the champagne flows and sparklers announce yet another bottle for some well heeled patron.
Now the new menu. It’s divided into small plates and salads, sushi and sashimi, crudos, robata grill, and signature rolls. Then there are the large plates (for large budgets) – Wagyu beef tomahawk, selection of meat or seafood platter, and a dish on my list for next time, an original Florida red snapper duo that’s half grilled, half tempura snapper with ginger rice ($120). Rounding out the offerings, ideal for special events for a group of friends, are the chef’s hand selected assortment of seasonal dishes served family style, from $75-$135 per person.
Whatever you do, do not miss the golden lobster tempura, chunks of deftly fried lobster served with a creamy spicy aioli and piquant chili ponzu. The presentation is dramatic – the head of a lobster towering over the meaty chunks garnished with slivers of red pepper. Another must have is the tuna tart – eight pieces of tuna sashimi served on a crispy tortilla with ponzu aioli, shaved black truffle and jalapeno.
These two dishes together with one of their salads such as roasted beets with watermelon and feta cheese; quinoa with grilled corn, avocado , cucumber and tomatoes would be a perfect meal if you’re in the mood for eating light but divinely.
Other favorites included Saikyo miso sea bass, charred and moist, accompanied by baby bok choy and garnished with black sesame seeds all in a light, clear ocean broth. Meat eaters should opt for the Thai wok fried wagyu beef – flavorful wagyu sirloin with red onion, coriander and ginger rice.
Dessert choice is a no brainer: the crème brûlée which is one of my best desserts of 2016. Team it up with their espresso martini, the brilliant creation of uber mixologist Jordan Cohen. It’s made of vanilla vodka, coffee liqueur, sugar and espresso. The garnish is 3 coffee beans which represent luck, love and family. It’s a fitting end to a wonderful meal, and ideal for a celebration.
Small plates and salads average in the high teens; crudos in the twenties; and entrees from $29 to $59. Wines (a 6 ounce pour) start at $15 by the glass and $60 a bottle. There is no valet parking.