3 stars for alluring fusion at Juvia atop Lincoln Road on South Beach

 

3 stars for alluring fusion at Juvia atop Lincoln Road on South Beach

juvia_tuna

Victoria Pesce Elliott

If you’re wondering how hot Juvia is, just try getting a Saturday night seat. This sultry South American with French and Japanese heritage atop Lincoln Road’s sexy Herzog & de Meuron parking garage is the season’s it girl. The experience begins with a trip up the private elevator to the ninth-floor penthouse, where a team of pretty young things makes you feel as though you’ve just stepped into an episode of America’s Next Top Model.

Owners Jonas and Alexandra Millan of Bonito restaurant in St. Barth’s took as much care finding a kitchen crew as they did a design team. Executive chefs Laurent Cantineaux (a Daniel Boulud protégé) and Sunny Oh (South Beach’s Nobu), executive sous chef Kaoru Chang (also a Nobu alum) and corporate pastry chef Gregory Gourreau (a protégé of Alain Ducasse and Francois Payard) have designed an alluring fusion menu that work beautifully for the most part.

Ambience: The décor is demure in gray, white and gold with bright pops of purple from the orchids, glassware, napkins and under-lit amethyst bar. A mossy wall covered in tropical foliage lends a rain-forest feel to the 10,000-square-foot indoor-outdoor space, named for a mammoth Amazonian tree. A beehive of an open kitchen buzzes with at least a dozen white-capped cooks working with operating-room focus. But who would notice any of that when you’ve got that view! To the north you can see Sunny Isles Beach (maybe even Broward on a clear day), and to the east, Deco buildings are outlined against the tropical sky.

What Worked

  • Hearts of palm started - uniformly shaved sheets of smooth, crispy flesh  stacked between mounds of sunny green mango and papaya slaw
  • Hamachi espuma with a crown of yuzu foam that lends a creamy, citrusy bite to the ultra-fresh fish
  • Spicy rock shrimp tiradito drenched in a perfectly piquant ají amaraillo aioli the color of summer with shards of red onion and cilantro
  • A crazy-expensive but well-worth-it nigiri of king crab - snow-white meat  poached in butter and served over sweet rice with a pinch of tiny black osetra caviar
  • Lobster salad - a mound of passion fruit-bathed local greens surrounded by succulent bites of pristine flesh
  • Deliciously fatty, skin-on unagi served with a chocolate sauce and ground cacao nibs
  • White-soy-glazed tuna with  avocado and tomato salad
  • Korean short rib
  • Potent house-made ginger ale
  • A serviceable wine list with enough choices to match up with the dynamic menu
  • Roasted pineapple with a nutty financier and brown-butter ice cream Warm hazelnut ravioli in a citrus consommé with a sidecar of pomegranate sorbet

 

What Didn't Work

  • Bland French-Indian Vadouvan chicken
  • Boring Chilean sea bass wrapped in maple-glazed eggplant
  • Blah New York strip
  • Skippable sautéed foie gras — a fist-sized slab in an oily slick that suspends grape halves, hazelnuts and pineapple chutney
  • A locked entrance door at noon
  • A snooty hostess
  • Servers who cleared plates too soon
  • Waiters who were too distracted or uninformed to answer basic questions

 

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