3 stars for seriously good Shikany in Wynwood

 

Chef-owner Michael Shikany is putting out food that deserves attention. 

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By Victoria Pesce Ellliott | vpevpe@gmail.com

With amusement and delight, the geniuses at the Apple store call my laptop “vintage.” Theirs is the same feeling I have when, more than a dozen years after first scooping foams and inhaling puffs of plated smoke, I see pipettes and gels and other culinary trickery at the new Shikany in Wynwood. 

Hey, guys, get a load of this!

Michael Shikany, a Miami native who studied at the French Culinary Institute, knows about flavor profiles and luxe ingredients. His space, with its sleek lines, is handsome but also very been-there-done-that.

Open kitchen? Check. Living plant wall? Check. Communal table? Funky chandeliers? Patio with sexy lighting? Check, check and check. 

Two 120-inch flat-screens broadcasting sports? Huh?

For this ultra-fine dining, Shikany’s guests could probably afford to TiVo the game and watch it later. The food, after all, deserves to be the center of attention.

An amuse bouche served in a space-agey glass bowl foreshadows the kind of over-the-top precision that’s to come. One evening we sampled dehydrated salmon belly over a shallot-infused cream with a dollop of Imperial Ossetra caviar, cassis and baby red sorrel leaves so pretty you want to make earrings out of them. 

On another, it was a crisp bit of squab on a sphere of carrot purée with brown-butter powder and blueberry jus. A heavy accent and lack of food knowledge stacked up against our server’s ability to explain the dish. “Squab,” he said. “A little bird.” Still, that teaspoon of food was a delectable tease.

We followed that with an orb of burstingly fresh burrata that was topped with crispy rice pellets (bubu arare), nestled in a bed of crunchy peach slices folded amid fantastically bitter wild greens.

An outrageous sashimi selection of Hawaiian kampachi was sliced thick and arrayed with a garden of yellow and orange tobiko, black-truffle caviar, shredded daikon and micro cilantro. A do-it-yourself squeeze of clementine syrup adds a tart-sweet kick, while edible flowers make the whole dish look like an Easter basket.

Tiny nibs of wild boar cheek are melt-in-your-mouth soft and sweet with a touch of maple, a great foil for a gratin of turnips in sharp Stilton. A squeeze of Meyer lemon cream might have been nice, but ours — perhaps too cold? — would not come out of the bottle.

Lobster mac and cheese also sputters. The “coral oil,” a pretty infusion made from lobster roe, only looks good. Sous-vide treatment renders a lobster claw gelatinous, like raw meat, instead of tender and buttery. 

Morel mushroom tagliatelle suffers from a similar fate of excess richness and a dearth of flavor. An abundance of earthy morels, limp asparagus and a nest of fried sweet potato ribbons was no cure. 

Pastry chef Jill Montinola works brilliantly, getting the deconstruction thing and playing it up. Her signature Beet is on Fire is a ball of white chocolate surrounded by a kingdom of shapes like children’s building blocks. Included are piles of beet sponge cake, scoops of cajeta ice cream, squiggles of crème fraiche and beet “pop rocks” all doused with cassis and lit on fire by a server, who had no idea what was on the plate.

Sometimes Shikany takes itself much too seriously, dripping with pretension. The dessert menu states when it’s permissible to order coffee: “We respectfully recommend that coffee service be consumed upon completion.”

In other words, java-swilling junkies ought not ruin their palates until after enjoying these works of sweet art. But really, if dining here is meant to be that formal, maybe we can turn off the TVs?

This kind of dining demands not only attention but patience and knowledge. Shikany is like a little bird that I hope will fly high. 

Hey, everyone, get a load of this.

Miami Herald critics dine anonymously at the newspaper’s expense. Follow @MiamiHeraldFood on Twitter.

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