Miami restaurant review: Apeiro adds little to Midtown food scene

Apeiro's Spanish octopus photo by Jerry Rabinowitz
Apeiro's Spanish octopus photo by Jerry Rabinowitz

Apeiro, the new Midtown Miami sibling of a successful Delray Beach restaurant, is the Greek word for infinite. 

Its lengthy menu, which globetrots Europe, Asia and the Americas, certainly seems to go on forever. Best to stick with the Greek dishes, right? No. 

A $12 Greek salad purports to have heirloom tomatoes but actually comes with pale, mealy, refrigerator-cold specimens that are an affront to every juicy tomato grown in South Florida this time of year. They’re plopped on brown-edge lettuce, goopy feta and limp onion wisps. Every U.S. airport sells a better Greek salad than the one at Apeiro.

Prime rib gyro ($16) is a spin on a French dip sandwich. The anemic salad veggies return, tucked inside a pita with excessively fatty beef shavings. The pita — like all the breads at Apeiro, including pizza-like flatbreads and a puffier “balloon” pita — is the best part. You’ll want to break it off and dip pieces in your extra tzatziki sauce. 

The thick, creamy and refreshing tzatziki isn’t enough, however, to breathe life into the gyro’s accompanying fries. The tepid taters are so flaccid that they hunch over their serving cone like the last passengers on a sinking ship, looking to escape. 

Tzatziki fares worse on a plate of lamb kefta kebabs. Here the sauce comes broken, a greasy pool of warm lamb fat and cool yogurt under a skewered mini-football of ground lamb ordered medium-rare and delivered hammered, beyond well-done. $22. 

The 300-plus-seat restaurant is the work of Burt Rapoport, who opened his first Miami-Dade restaurant, Raffles, in 1980 and has gone on to a string of tried-and-true hits in Palm Beach County. 

Apeiro’s Midtown location and the year-old Delray Beach original were a collaboration between Rapoport and chef David Blonsky. This week, Rapoport announced that Blonsky was no longer associated with Apeiro and that his underlings would be stepping into his kitchen role. A restaurant publicist said the changeover had no effect on Apeiro’s food or service.

A service touchup wouldn’t hurt. A frenetic waiter turned and walked away from our table mid-sentence, then disappeared for a solid 30 minutes between courses only to hover like a chatty helicopter once he brought the check. A manager waved off the inexplicable wait for food with a shrug: “We’re pretty busy for a Wednesday.” They weren’t. 

Apeiro has a full bar. An artichoke sour made with egg white, gin and artichoke bitters skews vegetal, as expected, but unpleasantly sweet. A $12 glass of rioja is serviceable but poured at room temperature. The drinks menu has too much misinformation (Boulevard Brewing Co. is in Kansas City, Missouri, not Washington, D.C., and its Tank 7 beer is 8.5 percent alcohol by volume, not 5.5 percent) and too many typos (Coravin is the wine-by-the-glass system, not Corvin) to be trusted.

Apeiro pleases on some non-Greek portions of its Mediterranean menu. Spanish-style grilled octopus is very good, tender, with a smoky heat and little crisp-skin potatoes. A beet salad with pickled radish and a mushroom flatbread garnished with parsley succeed in their simplicity and despite their doses of truffle oil. A side of hard-roasted cauliflower florets gets a sweet and acidic lift from raisins and lemon juice. 

Housemade gelato also is fine, but I had my scoop in front of a vegan friend for whom Apeiro has few viable options. The menu lists cold-brewed coffee, but the servers bring hot coffee poured over ice cubes for a lukewarm end to a similar experience. 

Midtown is home to some of Miami’s most enjoyable restaurants. There are several besides Apeiro at which I’d rather eat. 

Critics dine unannounced at the Miami Herald’s expense. Evan S. Benn: 305-376-4624, @EvanBenn