The goods: Miami’s master of whimsical dining, Barton G Weiss expands his culinary empire with Prelude by Barton G, a theater supper club at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. His flagship restaurant on the Beach is already a huge hit, with locals and tourists going ga ga over the circus-like atmosphere and quirky presentations. But Barton G is taking a different approach with this venture, focusing on the wine list and creating a concise, rapidly-executed menu (they promise to get you three courses in 60 minutes). So don’t expect sparklers in your food. That being said, there are still plenty of unconventional elements like specially-commissioned plates consisting of wooden boards, hand-blown glass platters and silver trays with mini-cast-iron pots. Seatings start at 5pm with the 6:15pm slot reserved for ticket holders. The restaurant will also be open on days when there are no performances at the center.
Ambiance: Located on the second floor of the Ziff Opera House, the dining room is a cushy deco throwback with a lily-pad chandelier, dark wooden booths, toffee-colored walls and plush carpeting. An amber-colored bar features a high-tech wine storage system where ninety varieties are offered by the glass from airtight bottles.
The grub: The greatest hits of contemporary American dining. Expect French, Asian and Italian influences on everything from seared tuna wth beet salad to goat cheese tortellini. Everyone is required to order the $39 three-course menu, but one of the perks is that you can pick and choose any combo of the usual appetizer-main-dessert categories. Meaning, if you want three main courses for dinner, you can get it (though we don’t recommend that, if only because it’s a shame to miss out on the showman’s gluttonous desserts.)
Starters include a smoked salmon panzanella salad, butter-poached shrimp over fennel and watercress and beef carpaccio Entrees aren’t huge, but portioned appropriately given the fact that you will be eating two other dishes. Mains include a roasted chicken with fingerling potatoes and escarole, skirt steak with individual cast iron pots of cinnamon-spiked black beans and corn salsa, a crisp red snapper with a lemon-caper sauce and short ribs “en croute” presented in a metal tin and topped with flaky pastry dough.
Desserts are big enough for two and a bit more theatrical. A reimagined PB & J consists of grape gelato flanked by two pyramids of peanut butter mousse and the Prelude Sundae is trio of cinnamon ice cream, roasted caramel apple slices and a mini caramel apple. The epic wine list is helpfully paired with each course in a choice of three pour sizes – a taste for 1.5 ounces, a half at 4 ounces and a glass at 6 ounces.
Verdict: Perfect for a quick dinner downtown or a glass of wine post-performance, this tony supper club is a grown up option from Miami’s most prolific party planner.