The Who: Juan Manuel Barrientos, who at the age of 29 snagged a coveted spot on the Latin America’s 50 Best Restaurants list for his original location in Medellín, brings his El Cielo experience to Miami.
The Space: A waterfront 56-seater on the ground floor of the Brickell on the River condo. The place feels like the salon of a wealthy art collector with white leather chairs, thick wooden tables and shelves stocked with design-y items.
The Dishes: Latin American classics reinterpreted using molecular gastronomy techniques. Prices are high given that there are only two options for dining: a 12- or 15-course chef’s menu priced starting at $125 a person.
Chocolate Therapy evokes the chef’s childhood by having guests spread cookie crumbs and melted chocolate over bare hands and then tasting it, while the Tree of Life is yuca bread propped up by copper wires served with a coconut dipping sauce. Other dishes are more traditionally presented like the ropa vieja croquettes and the branzino filet with quinoa. Black Pollock is a much-Instagrammed dish of sous-vide chicken splattered with squid ink, and Smoking Cow reveals a piece of tenderloin over sushi rice from under a smoky glass dome.
Desserts can be a phyllo pastry cups stuffed with lavender or a champagne sorbet. Each meal also ends with a rose petal that when rubbed between fingers turns into a sweet-smelling lotion.
The Bottom Line: Set aside three hours (or more) for a “journey” that is alternately playful and serious, with some dishes employing theatrics and others more straightforward.