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Bâoli Miami,1906 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, FL 33139 305-674-8822 

Bâoli  shows Mediterranean cuisine from the South of France in all its glory while it hops with hot entertainment. A surprisingly wonderful dining experience.

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By Simone Zarmati Diament

 

After you’ve navigated a velvet-roped entrance and a rather long corridor lined with pictures of  the European entertainment world’s who’s who, ask each of the young and cool-looking, mostly French-speaking staff waiting to seat you  what Bâoli means and you’ll get as many different answers.  Some confide that it means “life”, others “joy”, and others existentially ascertain it means “whole” or “hole.”

Bâoli (in Hindi) means a well or pond, after the elaborately designed stepwells that adorn Hindu temples; one of India's most unique contributions to architecture. Translated into Miami Beach, Cannes, France,  New York and the language of other key places around the world,  Bâoli means an upscale watering hole with a vibrant scene.

The glitzy and dimly lit indoor lounge and dining space with TV screens broadcasting Food Network scenes and DJs occupying center stage, the bar, the exotic secluded garden where a corporate event was sending amped vibes up the romantically lit trees, did not prepare me for what turned out to be a surprisingly wonderful dining experience.

Bâoli Miami Executive Chef, the Italian-Argentine Gustavo Vertone, comes to Miami after years of experience in the kitchen of the Bâoli Cannes and Côte d’Azur outfits and he brings a taste of South of France with a Mediterranean menu and his own light-handed French and Italian twists.

Splendid appetizers cold and hot

There really is something for every taste on the menu, beginning with the crusty bread with whipped  butter, a tasty tapenade and pepperonata in olive oil. The service is attentive and anticipates one’s desires as in bringing wet towels after an order of  6 Kumamoto Oysters over ice served with mignonette, lemon, mini tabasco and homemade crackers ($25) paired with a glass of pink Laurent Perrier Champagne.

The fresh raw bar competes with what must be a South Beach night life requirement: sushi, nigiri and sashimi made by a sushi chef straight from the famous Nobu restaurant.

But to each his or her own and while many tables of young diners shared large platters of correctly prepared but not outstanding sushi, I focused on the house's specialty: the Mediterranean menu. I pass over the soups — gazpacho, onion soup and lobster bisque ($14-$16), carpaccios,  Burrata and tomato and some salads to go straight to the cold appetizers.

One could make a meal of the carefully prepared and dramatically plated ceviche mixto with tuna, scallops, shrimp, lobster, and lobster claws with a tuft of green mâche leaves held together by a crispy plantain chips. It starts out marinated Peruvian-style before a touch of lychee makes it soar in an unexpected delicious direction.

A Generous Ahi tuna tartare, high quality creamy tuna, thinly sliced topped by an equally creamy layer of guacamole spiked with fiery spices and made creamier with a fragrant Mediterranean olive oil was meeker and a crowd-pleaser.

My favorite appetizers of all were the roasted beet salad: diced red beets, intensely sweet and mineral were topped with earthy tasting leeks and fresh greens beans and a mâche salad glistening with an oh-so light citrus dressing was set over rounds of golden beets in the midst of blue cheese triangles and drops of aged balsamic dressing.  It isn’t easy to pair beets with wine, but this dish was perfectly matched  with a Pouilly Fumé La Craie, Loire Valley, 2011 ($60).

Curiously, our next hot appetizer, the beautiful artichoke and lobster salad, also paired well with our wine. This dish with its amazing assemblage of ingredients is the quintessential expression of the cuisine of South of France: a terrine of pan-seared artichoke hearts, and here again the vegetable minerality, topped with tender and sweet Maine lobster, tart micro-arugula, aioli dressing over a bed of tomato sauce.

Entrees

From the pasta section, we picked the black truffle risotto from the slew of pappardelle, spaghetti, ravioli and cavatelli, all temptingly homemade and with delicious sauces. Topped with the musty richness of abundant shavings of summer black truffles and a gold leaf, the deep flavored  risotto ($50) , perfectly creamy and al dente, is the classic luxury item for an establishment with dispenses in equal parts entertainment and great food.

Of course there are the high-quality grilled meats – from the 6 oz. Kobe filet mignon and the 10 oz skirt stead to the 12 oz bone-ion filet mignon and the 18 oz boneless Angus Ribeye as well as the grilled rac of lamb and the organic baby grilled chicken (different prices).

The menu also abounds in seafood and fish dishes such as Dover sole, wild Scottish salmon, Chilean sea bass and the Whole fish of the day. To remain in the Mediterranean spirit and figuring that coming from Cannes, the chef must know a good bouillabaisse that’s what we ordered.

The rustic bouillabaisse is filled with clams, mussels, lobster, scallops, sea bass, salmon and calamari in a spicy seafood and tomato broth, hermetically sealed with foccacia dough, and baked to a golden crust before it is brought to the table.  A waiter cuts the foccacia top to release the delicious seafaring fragrance of the dish which wafted to curious neighboring tables. This abundant dish - plenty of seafood and the bread to sop the broth with - is great for sharing with a table of 2 if not 4 people, especially if one first indulges in all the appetizers we had.

No room for dessert after that, but we promised ourselves we’d come back for the profiteroles, the rustic apple tart, the chocolate fondue and the Baoli tiramisu with white chocolate coulis and fresh strawberries.

Bâoli is a high-end in-place in the heart of South Beach, that shows Mediterranean cuisine from the South of France in all its glory while it hops with hot entertainment. As the night progresses, the music gets louder, the crowd younger and the girls’ skirts shorter.

So order up a cocktail, a glass or a nice bottle of wine,  a couple of appetizers and a hearty entrée, catch the glitz and have a good time.


 

 

 

 

dsc01425Bâoli Miami,1906 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, FL 33139 305-674-8822 www.baoli-group.com/baoli/#en/vita/homesite

Cuisine: Mediterranean
Hours: Lunch, Dinner  Mon-Fri,  Sun: 7pm-2am Sat: 12pm-6pm
Prices: $16 to $50
Wine & Spirits: good international list  and cocktails
Features: Group Dining, Outdoor Dining, Live Entertainment, Happy Hour, Raw Bar, Wheelchair Friendly, All by Coupon Companion Plugin">Credit Cards, Take Out, Catering, Private Parties