Thursday, July 03, 2008

Philippe Miami at the Gansevoort

Everybody's talking about Philippe. The buzz-worthy NYC import opened at the Gansevoort South last week and the hordes are dim sum curious.
So what can we say about the high-end lo mein mecca?
Well, the space is dramatic. Two floors, 400 seats (is there ever a restaurant in Miami that can fill 400 seats?), a glass-enclosed kitchen with views accessible from the second floor, an all-black private wine room, lipstick-red couches, a buzzing bar. It's all there. The main attraction is the scene, and there's plenty of it. But that scene doesn't come cheap. Let's be blunt: this is an expensive restaurant. Specialty cocktails start at $20. (Other cocktails range from $15- $18). Mains are family-style (each dish serves 2) and they start at $42. For chicken and broccoli. You can order those as half dishes but it's still pricey.

To be fair, the food is good. Nothing I tried was bad, but it wasn't mind-blowing either. It's classic American-style Chinese food with a few subtle (very subtle) creative touches. Chef Philippe Chow's signature dishes are fun and worth trying like the chicken satay skewers (3 for $16) that have an alarming electric orange-color. Turns out they are dyed using carrot juice. They're also smothered in an addictive creamy peanut sauce. The kitchen is also magnificently talented when it comes to duck so make sure to order some sort of duck dish. We got the crispy duck pancakes (half order is $29) which were two lovely meaty shanks with skin that was crispy and flavorful. A neighboring table ordered the Peking Duck and it's presented tableside with all the accompanying fanfare; they wheel it out to ooh's and aaah's and an Asian chef carves it at the table. Speaking of fanfare, there's plenty of it here with a massive team of white-suited waiters, black Mao-jacketed foodrunners, and an assortment of other water-fillers, napkin-folders, plate-clearers, duck-carvers, etc. If you like lots of service, this is your place. There's also a nightly noodle show where a handkerchief-bedecked chef does some dramatic dough-kneading and expertly creates a curtain of noodles, much to the delight of the dining room.
It's chopstick shtick. And it will no doubt be a hit in Miami.
[photos via Tomas Loewy at CoolPoolEvents]

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