Pied a Terre a South Beach hideaway

 

The goods: The aptly named Pied a Terre is tucked away in the intimate Cadet Hotel in South Beach with 10 tables, seating for about 30 and an atmosphere cozy enough to be the private dining room of a Miami socialite. The upscale service matches the setting — the maitre d’ as well as chef Andrew Balik hail from Azul — and reservations are a must. The place is too tiny for walk-ins.

Ambience: On the second floor of the 1930s boutique hotel, the genteel space is done in soft lights, beige banquettes and wicker chairs. Music volume is set to a conversation-friendly level and, once construction ends on James Avenue, there are plans for an outdoor chef’s table in the lush garden.

The grub: Eclectic Mediterranean. The concise menu, which changes daily, consists of eight starters and six mains. Prices are on par with cushy hotel spots: starters are $14-$18, mains $33-$45. There’s also a six-course tasting menu available nightly. Wines are reasonably priced with bottles starting at $23.

Dinner begins with slices of crusty baguettes and a round of French butter. Starters include a Paradise Farms baby lettuce salad and American osetra caviar with homemade blini. The local fish ceviche (cobia or hog snapper) is spiked with habaneros, cilantro and popcorn. Lobster and spring pea tortellini is a petite bowl of pasta stuffed with pea puree and mascarpone tossed with hunks of lobster meat bathed in truffle butter. Mains include a hefty red wine-braised Niman Ranch short rib with potato puree and an Alaskan halibut “scampi” with grilled shrimp and toasted pita topped with an zahtar-spiked olive tapenade.

Desserts include house-made fig ice cream, a flaming crème brulee, sweet and spicy beignets and a dense chocolate mousse.

The verdict: A genteel, date-friendly spot tucked away from the chaos of South Beach.

Sara Liss , Miami.com

Pied a Terre, 1701 James Ave., Miami Beach; 305-531-4533.

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