His name may not be well-known outside the industry, but chef Kal Abdalla has been cooking haute cuisine for this town’s tanned and toned for more than 30 years. Best known for his two decades at the landmark Forge, he jumped in 2005 to the spectacularly popular Prezzo, an Aventura hot spot that soon succumbed to management issues. Abdalla disappeared from view for a while, but in May owner Don Glassie of the classy Avalon Hotel came knocking. Back into the South Beach scene, Abdalla is now general manager as well as executive chef of the Ocean Drive hotel's beloved A Fish Called Avalon.
Abdalla is working to smooth the staff's rough edges, but his kitchen skills clearly need no honing. They are evident in the near-perfect geometry of his diced veggies, the confident balance of sweet and spice, the stunningly composed plates and the vast repertoire of expertly executed sauces. At a seaside restaurant with "fish'' in its quirky name, you would expect polished seafood dishes, and Chef Kal delivers.
Ambience: The dining room's polished terrazzo floors, potted palms, low lighting and stark tableware cast a glow of Deco-era glamour, but the wide outdoor terrace, away from the hubbub but still lively, is the place to be.
What Didn’t Work
A Fish Called Avalon. Foto: Roberto Koltun.