Miami likes the bold, statements, and showmanship, so it’s not surprising that we have several serious options for food as theatre, with restaurants of incredibly creative chefs such as Jeff O’Neill at Barton G., Walter Martino, the world famous Jose Andres and the Colombian born Juan Manuel Barrientos. A guest blogger went to Barrientos’ Elcielo Miami for me a few years ago, but after hearing about a new menu and readers’ comments, I decided it was time to go myself and have “The Experience”.
Barrientos is about pushing boundaries, so not surprising he found his way to Basque Chef Juan Mari Arzak and took his evocative menu from there. Today he has eight restaurants in Colombia, all a great success. Be prepared to spend the evening — the menus are exclusively prix fixe and they range from four to 14 courses. This blogpost will be all about the images and the experience, so get ready to be impressed.
I chose to try “The Experience” menu which Barrentos calls the “best expression of our creativity”. It’s 14 courses. Here’s a photo show of seven of those dishes.
Aguardiencello. Elcielo’s version of Limoncello. Shot glass of Colombian sugar cane liquor — aguardiente — perfumed with honey and flowers. Accompaniment of mango, tamarind and lemon palate pleasers. Barrientos recalls his roots.
White chocotherapy. Warm, liquid chocolate and cocoa oil combo is poured into your hands. You then rub it all over your hands and eat it. Feel like a child again.
Black & Yellow Soup. Golden beet soup is poured into a white bowl that has been garnished with a poached egg covered in black breadcrumbs on a bed of black lentils infused with truffle oil. Remind you of an abstract painting?
Tree of Life. One of my favorites of the evening. A traditional Colombian Pandeyuca, yucca starch, fresh cheese and basil forms the leaves of a copper wire tree whose roots wrap around a rock. It’s served with a cilantro cream on the side. Total WOW.
Salmon tartar and green apple. The salmon tartar is “wrapped” with strands of green apple fettucine punctuated with pomegranate seeds. It got the prize for most beautiful dish of the evening.
Smoked Ice Cream and Ash. Sure you can have an ice cream cone anywhere, but where else can you get smoked lavender ice cream served in a cone that is painted with edible black paint than at the avant-garde restaurant, Elcielo. These cute cones, which are the perfect companion for a photograph, are served on a bed of black lentils adding a unique background to the already Instagrammable dessert.
Cafetal. A waiter pours dry into a bowl of water causing a white fog to envelop the table and the coffee plant centerpiece that brings to mind the misty mountains of Colombia. Accompanied by homemade sweet treats. The coffee is delicious besides.
The four course prix fixe menu, “The Visit” is $65 (the Chocotherapy followed by a choice of starter, main and dessert); 10 course menu “The Journey” is $89; 14 course menu “The Experience” is $119 and a Pesquetarian offering also with 14 courses is $119. You can team up any dinner with a three or five glass wine tasting ($49 and $85 respectively) or haute champagne tasting, four glasses that includes a “Dom” for $119. A glass of wine (4 ounce pour) starts at $16; a bottle starts at $50.Service is friendly and wait staff explain every dish. There’s a choice of indoor or outdoor seating. Valet parking is $9 for first three hours.
Elcielo, 31 SE 5th Street (T.305-755-8840).