Bleau View

Dinner with a View
The simple Mediterranean cuisine at dinner suits the beautiful tropical ambiance, while the lavishly elaborate brunch overlooking the lush view is an affair to remember and repeat.

By Mark Goldberg

Whether you’ve come to the Fontainebleau Hilton’s new Bleau View restaurant for dinner or Sunday brunch, the first thing you’ll notice is the quality of the service you receive.

Well, okay, not the first thing. That would be the incredible view of the Atlantic, the hotel’s tropically landscaped gardens and rock grotto pool with its own waterfall, all visible from the wall of windows that wraps around the east side of the room. Inside, the restaurant’s bright Mediterranean piazza stylings – rich mosaic tiles, sparkling fountain, wall murals – surround comfortable high-backed banquettes and contemporary seating.

But next comes a team of seasoned waiters who have made a career of service at the Fontainebleau. Fifteen, eighteen, twenty-five year veterans, these goodwill ambassadors of fine dining can answer every question about the menu, make certain your meal is delivered quickly and correctly, and can reminisce about serving Frank, Sammy, Liz and even Liberace. Surprisingly, each one of these professionals is currently on a ninety-day probation, because new General Manager Simone Valente is a perfectionist who wants everything just right. Experience and supervision spell impeccable service.

Mediterranean cuisine at dinner
In contrast to the elaborate brunch, dinner, in the capable hands of chef de cuisine William Zuppas, is simple and straightforward Mediterranean.

The classic antipasto ($9) is a colorful platter laden with thin slices of prosciutto, slightly-smoky Calabrese sausage, coarsely-ground sopresata country pork salami, pungent aged parmesan, olives and gorgonzola cheese. The centerpiece of his Portobello salad ($8) is marinated in balsamic and herbs before grilling. The meaty mushroom cap is sliced, fanned atop wild greens, splashed with balsamic vinaigrette and sprinkled with manchego cheese. Sharing the plate is a pungent, chilled Mediterranean couscous salad, studded with bits of walnut, olives and tomato. Moroccan bronzed shrimp ($12), a plateful of sweet and flavorful U10 beauties set over Moroccan tomato and mushroom couscous, are rubbed with harissa – a Moroccan seasoning based on spicy red pepper, before grilling, then plated in a fiery harissa fish fume.

Risotti change nightly. Our red bean Tuscan risotto ($16) was a far cry from the traditional Arborio rice. Organic short grain brown rice cooked with red beans and a variety of vegetables created a health-food treat that was very tasty, light and refreshing.
The quintessential Mediterranean fish dish: cioppino, fish stew or bouillabaisse, is here frutti di mare ($30), a light lobster broth, infused with red pepper, and loaded with sea scallops, shrimp, whole calamari, two enormous prawns, and fresh fish of the day. Meat doesn’t lag behind: filetto marcantonio ($29) is a tender, perfectly cooked to order filet mignon served over a ratatouille of tomatoes, fennel, eggplant, pine nuts, pancetta and parmesan in a simple red wine reduction.

Desserts ($7) are worth the calories. They run from the standard tiramisú to a delicious peanut butter Bavarian torte – a Bavarian cream mousse with a light cake center, and a chocolate mousse dome, a sort of tartuffo with a dark chocolate cover protecting the light and dark chocolate mousse layered with cake, fresh raspberries and blueberries.

Sunday brunch extravaganza
The Sunday brunch ($42) actually deserves its own review. It’s off-season, and the Bleau View is serving 200 diners every Sunday. There is, of course, a waiter and a bus boy for every station, so there is never any clutter on your table. You are greeted with a “Would you like champagne, a mimosa or a Bloody Mary?” and then you enter buffet central.

Start on the right, where you’ll discover gravlax, smoked salmon, baked salmon, assorted cheeses, blintzes, an omelette station, a variety of seafood salads, and fresh fruit. Along the back wall, an enormous table offers sushi, chilled Maine lobster, oysters, snow crab claws, prawns, shrimp, and three different types of caviar.

Take your time – the brunch lasts five hours. The pasta chef serves penne with porcini, baby artichoke, broccoli rabe, and grilled portobello. Enjoy some lobster ravioli. Or go for a bowl of Caribbean seafood chowder, a spiced bouillabaisse loaded with fresh lobster, scallops, and shrimp. Meats? How about Cajun style pork loin with boniato; chicken breast stuffed with cornbread, apricots and raisins; prime rib; Grecian leg of lamb, and mini filet mignon.

Most amazing is not the amount of food available, but that each item is well-prepared, flavorful and fresh. Nothing has the chance to dry out over a Sterno flame before it is replaced with fresh items. And many of the dishes change every Sunday.

Desserts – from fruit tortes to mousse cakes, custards to tarts to triple-dipped strawberries – take up half the room, and far outshine the ice cream and waffle station. Of course, dessert demands coffee, and your waiter brings it to you in an individual French press.

From dinner to the most impressive brunch on the Beach, Bleau View has thought of everything. Including free valet parking for brunch and dinner.

Bleau View
4441 Collins, in the Fontainebleau Hilton, Miami Beach.
(305) 238-2000.
Dinner 6 to 11p.m. nightly, Sunday brunch 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Mediterranean at dinner, international at brunch.
Appetizers $5 to $12; entrees $14 to $33. Sunday brunch $42 (including valet parking), $19 for children 12 to 4, free for kids under 4.
Modern setting overlooking tropical vegetation and waterfall.
A good list of well-priced reds and whites.
Separate smoking section.
PARKING: Complimentary valet with dinner or brunch.

Mark Goldberg is a dining critic and a freelance copywriter.

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