Vine-covered Hotel St. Michel, built in 1926 as the Sevilla, oozes Old World charm in the middle of Coral Gables, with ornately tiled floors, Belgium rugs, vaulted ceilings, a brass elevator and even the original telephone switchboard behind the front desk. But if you drive past and think the place appears dark and empty, you would be correct. The 28-room boutique hotel has long struggled to offer a dining option equal to its elegant location. The streak, unfortunately, remains unbroken.
As the first American extension of a Lima-based restaurant chain, Vivaldino, which opened late last year, gets the fundamentals right. Stray beyond that at your peril.
Ambience. Just off the lost-in-time lobby, the new Peruvian-themed Vivaldino restaurant could claim one of the most romantic settings in South Florida. French doors and big picture windows overlook Ponce de Leon Boulevard. Bebel Gilberto whispers sexy bossa nova tunes from discreet speakers. Images of glistening pink crustaceans on the front of the poster-size menu promise sea-based delights.
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