By Sara Liss
The goods: The skyscraper canyon that is the Brickell corridor gets a jolt of urbane glam with the opening of Andu Restaurant and Lounge. Located on the ground floor of the hip Neo Vertika building on the Miami River, Andu’s interior design features white leather banquettes, silver curtains framing floor-to-ceiling windows and a semi-private dining area bedecked with hundreds of multi-colored, hand-blown glass bubbles created by Norwegian glass artist Terje Lundaas. A marble wrap-around bar provides ample seating for after-work tipplers. Gray slate floors, ivory walls and dramatic lighting add to the seductively sleek look.
The grub: Unpretentious Mediterranean eats courtesy of executive chef Nate Martin (8 1/2, Pearl). The menu comprises classics like mezze-style dips and spreads including a salt cod brandade with preserved lemon, sundried tomato tapenade and white bean bruschetta as well as small and medium plates along with family-style dishes intended for sharing. Prices are in keeping with the off-the-beach mentality; dips are $6-$9 (and provide ample happy-hour noshing) while mains are mostly in the $20 range topping out at $32 for an 18 oz. Rib eye meant for two.
Dinner starts with a tangy hummus topped with olives and feta cheese accompanied by toasted focaccia bread. Segue into cold appetizers like a seafood ceviche made with snapper, tuna, salmon, swordfish and shrimp or a warm potato gnocchi tossed with serano ham, pecorino and romano cheeses. North African-influences pop up in a Moroccan calamari dish tossed with meyer lemon brown butter and a Harissa-braised free range chicken. The grilled yellow snapper is a whole 10-ounce fish deboned, seasoned with lemon thyme and sea salt. A side of "the best fries in the world" is a heaping bowl of shoestring spuds tossed with cajun spices and Parmesan. The sauteed wild mushrooms are a mixture of oyster, portabello, shiitake and button mushrooms flash fried with rosemary and garlic.
Pitchers of homemade sangria and cocktails like the white mist martini (gin, white cranberry, lychee and lime) and the cilantro martini — a concoction of lime, aloe vera juice and muddled cilantro — will pique the curiosity of nightlife aficionados. A bar menu includes a $12 burger on a brioche bun and an $11 chicken and avocado sandwich.
The verdict: With Andu’s chic-yet-inviting décor the professional set now have reason to stick around past happy hour in Miami’s financial district. Locals looking to escape the tourist-heavy throngs on Lincoln Road will head south for Andu’s stylish setting sans the beachy ‘tude.
Andu, 141 SW 7th St., Brickell; 786-871-7005