The Conrad Hotel's Atrio restaurant enters 2008 with a facelift, a new lounge called Level 25 and a new menu by exec chef Michael Gilligan (formerly of Rumi). The lounge is space age-chic with yellow leather banquettes, a frosted glass bar and a sparkling raw bar. The restaurant's redesign includes a more open dining room and the addition of an inviting wine room with a Tuscan-style large wooden table ready for tastings and private dinners.
Atrio's spot on the 25th floor is supremely impressive. Views of glittering Brickell skyscrapers and nautical traffic are the closest we get to Hong Kong-type cityscapes and Miami feels like a big city from that perch. And the food? Impeccably prepared, graciously served and expertly flavored. Here's what we had:
Tuna Tataki with yuzu-miso dressing, crispy wonton and jicama-mint salad. A nicely composed dish with textural contrast between the jicama and silky nori-wrapped tuna.
Sautéed Green And White Asparagus with red and golden beets, baby bok choy and port wine & dried fig chutney. I am a sucker for figs (must be the Middle Eastern in me) and these did not dissapoint - sweet and chewy, they were a perfect foil to the beets and asparagus. And it's so nice to see figs on a Miami menu!
Oven Roasted Chilean Sea Bass red thai coconut curry, jasmine & vegetable rice pilaf. The fish was crispy - I love that. Why can't more restaurants do that with fish? I expected the coconut curry to be milky but I think this was an interesting variation, and did not sacrifice flavor.
Lavender Dusted Rack Of Lamb with honey and tamarind mashed potatoes and apricot-jalapeño jus. The verdict on this one was that it was delicious but difficult to handle since it is presented unsliced.
And for dessert a "cafe con leche" which was molten chocolate lava-style cake except it was white chocolate with coffee which is a refreshing change from the ubiquitous chocolate variety. The home made cookies n' cream ice cream was divine.
Atrio is at 1395 Brickell Ave at the Conrad Hotel.