Downtown Miami's Area 31 is reborn with an upscale seafood-centric menu

The who: The glossy seafood emporium reopens after five months with a new look and a new German-born chef, Wolfgang Birk, whose experience includes stints at Michelin-starred Rino Casati in Cologne, Casa Casuarina and Cooper Avenue.

The scene: Perched at the mouth of the Miami River, the restaurant’s 16th floor locale is as impressive as ever with vistas of downtown skyscrapers and the nautical traffic below. The patio has been upgraded with better lighting and furniture, and the bar is expanded to accommodate the popular afternoon happy hour. Indoor seating offers views of the busy open kitchen amid bubble chandeliers, Indonesian wood tables and those same 12-foot-high windows.

The menu: The focus is still on fresh fish and seafood sourced from the restaurant’s namesake region, Fishing Area 31. Prices are par for a luxury hotel, with starters  $12-$18 and mains $24-$42.

Dinner starts with herbed rolls and an olive sofrito. Then it’s off to a variety of crudo like yellofin tuna with oyster crema and red snapper with carrot vinaigrette. Fresh fish selections include snapper, flounder and swordfish, available seared with sauces like lemon-sea salt or red pepper sabayon. Meat lovers can order roasted lamb with quinoa or bone-in rib-eye with crispy yuca. Sides like escarole with anchovies and local oyster mushrooms keep things light.
Cap the fish feast with Key lime tart or house-made ice cream in flavors like raspberry and dulce de leche.

Bottom Line: Area’s 31’s enviable waterfront locale is reborn with an upscale menu that pays homage to the fruits of the sea.