Mister Collins Brings New Life to Bal Harbour Dining
|Chunks of first grade tuna are served with a side of crispy fried yucca chips.|
Last night we were invited to sample Chef Laird Boles' kitchen talents, developed in San Fransisco at Spire and Waterbar. Although we knew the view would be lovely (located in the One Bal Harbour Resort, on the corner of Baker's Haulover Inlet and the Atlantic Ocean), the menu, which has a lot of sandwiches, had us expecting a much more casual culinary experience.
The truth is that this is a restaurant that tries too hard; the attentive service and attention to execution will likely go unappreciated by patrons who have come to expect so little from resort-based restaurants. The only drawback of the night: our server frowned when the second appetizer course arrived too early. Everything after that was timed perfectly. It is this attention to detail that allows them to charge big ticket prices, and yet, most things on the line-up seem quite reasonably fixed. Starters, sandwiches and salads range from $9 to $16, while entrees go both high and low. A brick-grilled chicken with ginger-glazed carrots and smashed potatoes goes for $17, at the upper end, a dry-aged New York strip with lump crab stuffed mac-and-cheese is priced at $39 (this would easily cost you upwards of $50 on the beach).
A pile of soft, fluffy "pretzels" arrives first, a heady harbinger of what's to come. They are really more like pretzel scented breadsticks ($9), with a slightly crispy exterior. Large flecks of coarse salt sprinkled across the top stick willingly to a light brushing of butter. There is a spicy mustard with plenty of kick, or a creamy white cheddar sauce, for dipping. The menu says these pretzels are freshly baked, and we believe it.
The "crab cake salad" ($18) is really more like a crab-bomb, with nary a breadcrumb or vegetable filler to be seen. Large chunks are packed in tightly, and given a quick sear to finish. We are not sure of what exactly holds this thing together, but we do not recommend trying this at home. A side salad of market-fresh greens with b-movie sized tomatoes is appropriately dressed with a mustard seed vin.
Overall, the space can hold about one hundred people at time. There is a lounge area in addition to the outdoor terrace seating and main dining room. The modern decor is clean and not too fussy. Billowing white panels, walnut flooring and oversized, extremely comfortable, taupe leather chairs - Mister Collins is a welcome respite from other hotel restaurants in the neighborhood. We will be at the bar ordering those pretzels.
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