The Dining Room
413 Washington Avenue
Miami Beach, Florida 33139
Food & Service:
Reviewed by: Tom House
This is one of those restaurants that you just have to experience. Whoever said size matters has never been to The Dining Room. I’m sure all the “small” clichés have been over-used by now, so I won’t go there. Where I will go is that this is an excellent restaurant, and intimate is the description that comes to my mind first. Owners Maria, Zack and Brian Lieberman have brought the term Family Affair to a whole new level! Some of the freshest, most well thought out food was served to my Celebrity Guest and Social Astronaut Amanda Corbett and I on our recent visit. Here is what went down.
Just look up from your table and you’ll see Chef Rivadero and Chef de Cuisine Cristian Alvarez cooking just a few feet from the front door.
Even though Chef Rivadero’s mentor is Celebrity Chef and South Florida culinary pioneer, Douglas Rodriguez, he is making a giant splash while paving his own legacy today at The Dining Room. Less is so much more here. The uncomplicated but well planned menu features only seven main courses.Owner Zack Lieberman says sometimes they have off the menu specials as well, but what is offered is sufficient in my opinion. There are also ten Little Plates at the beginning of the menu, many of which could easily be enjoyed as a main course. Wine list is great too!
We were feeling adventurous as usual, and The Dining Room was happy to fashion our gastronomic escapade for us. Soon our palates were awakened with a perfectly chilled Cobia Ceviche. Gorgeous Florida Cobia marinated in yuzu lime juice, red onions, cilantro and aji limo (this fruity tasting Peruvian pepper is a spicy secret ingredient from the Andes), and finished with grapefruit sorbet. I can assure you that this was fantastic, fresh and full of flavor…just as Zack had promised.
This dish awoke our palates as it is designed to do, and left us yearning for more of Chef Rivadero’s culinary creations. We would not be disappointed. As our taste buds were still whistling fresh from the ceviche, more edible culinary ideas from the mind of the chef appeared before us. We were salivating over Grilled Calamari Salad, as well as Scallops wrapped in Serrano Ham, with foie gras, sherry sauce and herbed crostini. Mingling with crunchy red radishes and watercress, the lightly grilled squid in the Calamari Salad is dressed in citrus-chili glaze and drizzled with Kalamata aioli!
Reading these ingredients should give you an idea of the thought and effort that goes into Chef Rivadero’s menu, but tasting is truly believing! These two dishes were stunningly delicious. The Dining Room’s scallop recipe pays homage to the age-old combination of ham and scallops in this, a house specialty. These beautiful bivalves were perfectly plump and cooked only until slightly translucent inside. The flavor combinations on this plate are something I’ll remember for a long time, and I will compare future chef’s scallop recipes to this one. That’s how good it is!
We’re enjoying some New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc as we move into main courses, all chosen for us by Zack and the chef. Striped Bass with pistachio pesto, grilled white asparagus, Serrano ham, baby arugula and fava beans is up next.
The skin on this filleted fish was delightfully crispy, adding just the right amount of crunch to go along with the flavor combinations in the preparation. We also loved the Filet Mignon Churrasco, simply served with heirloom tomatoes and blue cheese salad, finished with a Malbec chimichurri. This piece of meat was juicy, full of amazing flavor and went great with a glass of Merlot.
We were full, but still managed to sample Crispy Braised Pork, made with green mustard, white bean puree and topped with pickled red radishes. A very hearty taste and every bit as good as all the other dishes we tried. Attention: There is a great chef at work here, and he makes creative food with love!
Before we could protest, an exciting little dessert arrived. Looking like a Baked Alaska from the old days, The Dining Room’s version is called Baked Patagonia. Check it out – Pistachio cake, dulce de leche ice cream, Italian meringue, and passion fruit berry sauce. The meringue had been toasted to perfection, and Amanda and I didn’t stop until it was gone. We will be trying the Key Lime Tart with Vanilla Ice Cream and the Chocolate Bomb on our next visit. Speaking of “The Bomb”…The Dining Room in Miami is just that! One of the best dinners I have had this year. Check this gastronomic gem out soon, and tell them Tom House and DinnerReviews.com© sent you!