In the parking roundabout at Tempo Miami, white-vested valets linger like schoolboys on the corner waiting for girls to saunter by. When one finally does, the guys jump to attention, straighten their uniforms and produce megawatt smiles. One was happy to chase down my cellphone when I realized I had left it on my front seat, even giving it a little polish before handing it back.
Besides their obvious charm — and boredom — these guys at Rock Resort’s sky-grazing hotel/condo give a handsome face to the otherwise gawky skyscraper that casts shadows over the AmericanAirlines Arena. The ambitious Marquis project may seem eerily empty at this queasy real-estate moment, but it’s trying to make a go of it with its sexy pool deck, Jetsons-like décor and dizzying views. Oh, and the restaurant.
The skeletal young crew at Amuse — our sweet waitress seemed to double as the bartender — is mellow, kind and disarmingly honest. The Argentine chef left just a week into the gig (a replacement is expected any day now), leaving behind a rather bristly menu mashup of tropical, Asian and Mediterranean elements with some modern flourishes. Consider, for example, pan-seared langoustine with a carrot coconut puree, Rice Krispy, sweet carrot galangal emulsion and beet essence. Hmm. The staccato descriptions make it tough to know what to order, and we found most we tried to be more ambitious than delicious.
While the restaurant seems as much a work in progress as the property itself, I have hopes that it, too, will fill up and find its way. It would be a sexy spot for drinks and dinner before or after any event downtown.
Ambience: Situated rather anticlimactically on the third level, Amuse looks like nothing so much as a posh airport lounge with smoothly rounded ceilings and glowing recessed lighting that makes everyone look as if they just had a week at a spa.
- See-through sheets of scallop carpaccio dotted with slivers of radishes, hints of lime and the scent of oolong tea and truffle
- A large house salad with a bounty of fresh and crunchy greens and beets
- A fine pan-roasted salmon with crispy skin and a deeply hued purple risotto with wild mushrooms
- Halibut fillet with an earthy parsnip puree and celery root mousseline
- Brightly colored mélange of raspberries and vanilla ice cream that gets a nice poke from black pepper and tart, rosy sauce
What Didn’t Work
- Tempo “chowder” “onsen tamago” – a bowl of respectable potato veloute besotted with pinky-sized baby radishes, beets and carrots, still with their stalky greens, topped with onsen tamago, literally a hot springs egg — the kind of thing served in Japanese spas where the egg yolk ends up nearly hard while the whites remain jiggly. While none of the elements was bad, it was a bit like pabluum and tough to eat with a spoon
- A serviceable at best California-heavy wine list