Maybe all that glitters at Doré, the ambitious new addition to the South Beach scene, is not gold — but the place sure is stunning.
This elegant, 7,000-square-foot tenant of the Ritz Carlton is also a bit scattershot. Though the name is French, the menu includes Euro and Asian flavors starting with tapas such as chicken satay and hamachi tartare, as well as fresh oysters, croque monsieur, beef tataki, gazpacho, foie gras, pastas and risottos.
It’s the kind of international menu that’s meant to appeal to an equally international crowd. However, in some ways it panders with predictable offerings from frisee salad to seared salmon with coconut rice.
Doré, or gold, certainly describes the sexy gilt interior that is little changed from its brief life as David Bouley’s Evolution, which closed in 2007 after less than a year.
The Art Deco design, an elaborate display of curves, sexy fluted lamps, glittering chandeliers and mosaics, was created by Jacques Garcia, the celebrated Parisian designer.
Staffers range from overly attentive to oddly aloof. The uneven service has dishes landing in front of the wrong diners and waitresses yanking down their too-mini black dresses and disappearing for long stretches. The gorgeous linen-dressed tables are set with substantial white china and a simple spray of magenta orchids. And, though the cooking is mostly top notch, some disappointing glitches can mar an otherwise delicious night on the town.
Executive chef Jeff Pfeiffer (ex-La Goulue) certainly knows what he is doing. Most everything, from the golden orbs of fried goat cheese croquettes served with a thyme-infused honey to a silken, house-cured duck bresaola with a thick fig jam, is deliciously balanced between sweet and savory.
A prettily arrayed platter of gently seared beef tataki lozenges is gently drizzled with a creamy peanut sauce and showered in fresh micro greens. A gorgeous hunk of sea bass is tender, moist and plump with flavor enhanced by a sweet nutty sauce draping a tiny tower of sticky, brown koshihikari rice.
Like the bread basket loaded with warm slices on top and frigid ones underneath, some things look better than they are once you dig in.
A bright butter lettuce salad was gasping for breath as its palm-sized leaves lay drowning beneath a champagne vinaigrette loaded with herbs. Orecchiette Nicoise with zucchini, tomato, asparagus and olives was properly prepared but unexciting. An otherwise perfect porcini risotto with white mushroom foam had too much truffle oil for my taste and not enough truffles.
The drinks menu is alluring though waiters did not have any compelling suggestions to pair cocktails with our dishes as the press release promised. And although there are plenty of decent wines by the bottle with high sticker prices, the wines by the glass disappointed. Ours, a young pinot noir, was sadly oxidized.
Executive pastry chef Kriss Velasco, a Venezuela native, spins gorgeous creations like the outrageous, so-dark-it’s-nearly-black chocolate fondant topped with a ball of thread-thin spun sugar. The salted caramel ice cream and shatteringly crisp shards of praline brought nice textural contrast.
Doré is the place to put on your best jewels, sip some champagne and sparkle in the golden glow.
Victoria Pesce Elliott reviews Miami-Dade restaurants anonymously at The Herald’s expense. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @VictoriaPesceE.