Juvia: Foodtastic or Just a Pretty Penthouse?

Categories: First Bites
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The beauty of Juvia was months in the making; we're not sure of how long it took botanist Patrick Blanc to create that rainforest wall, or to build out the gorgeous open kitchen, shining in the back of the restaurant like a food beacon. There was lots of buzz prior to opening about the fact that it was a penthouse restaurant in a parking garage (albeit, a semi-famous garage designed by illustrious architects Herzog & de Meuron) and owned by St. Barth restaurateurs Jonas and Alexandra Millan (Bonito). The concept? We kept hearing that it was going to be pretty, pretty, pretty, with a wide view of pretty.

So, we waited until the dust settled and went in for a bite. Turns out that the food is just as attractive as the surroundings, with carefully composed plates that have visual appeal. We want to be wowed on the inside as well, with nourishment that tastes as good as it looks. With a tag team of talent including executive chefs Sunny Oh (formerly of Nobu) and Laurent Cantineaux (who trained under Daniel Boulud), the menu is certainly a creative mash up of Asian, French and South American flavors. Smoky eel is accompanied by a savory chocolate sauce. Japanese yellowtail circles a mound of whipped cream suffused with yuzu kosho (yuzu and pepper) and a trace of micro cilantro. It does seem like a culinary version of the game Twister.

The thought process does work for most of the offerings. We may not have needed quite so much espuma with that yellowtail ($23), and the brushing of chocolate sauce had little effect on a pronounced taste of eel, but overall we liked and admired the plate play. Although it's no casual night out (the moderate prices of individual dishes add up fast, so be prepared to walk away with a lot less cash in your wallet) Juvia's kitchen is turning out food executed with technical precision.

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Lesley Elliott
The Unagi Chocolate listed under "hot appetizers" was extremely tasty with a nice crispy edge, but we didn't quite pick up a chocolate aroma.
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Lesley Elliott
A giant Causa Croquette made with tuna, Peruvian potato, and red onion, is spiced up with ají amarillo.
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Lesley Elliott
An amazing layer cake of honey-ginger glazed "Pork Confit" ($24) has a side of sour cabbage kraut, and a few fleshy shitakes.
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Lesley Elliott
Juvia's signature "Key Lime" ($8) has a shortbread crumble and meringue "fingers" sticking out of the top of the glass. It's cumbersome to eat unless you allow your server to take a spoon and crush it all up (which unfortunately made it look more like something a 5 year old would want for dessert).
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Juvia

1111 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, FL

Category: Restaurant

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