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Atrio, Downtown Miami - Spice and Other review

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YosemiteSam Sep 18, 2006 05:33 PM

We are living in temporary housing in downtown Miami and had a rare chance at a quiet dinner without our 9 month old as Grandma is visiting. We decided to take advantage of walking to dinner to allow for more drinking and despite a distinct lack of buzz settled on Atrio on the 25th floor of the Conrad Miami.

What a pleasant surpirse upon walking into this place! The view is not as expected of Biscayne but rather faces west over Little Havana and the Gables. Sunset must be georgeous. After dark, it was beautiful to see all the lights of the city spread to the horizon with occasional lift-offs from Miami International. The space is small enough, so that even if you don't grab one of the fantastic window seats you can still appreciate the view.

We did not have a reservation but there was a cancellation so we got their table (sidebar - the Maitre d told us that in Miami folks often make 3-4 reservations for any given night and then decide at the last minute where to go without calling to cancel at the other places - just adds to the general rudeness we've seen endemic to this city). We had been disappointed downstairs to see that the Spice menu had changed from the online version, but it turns out upon being seated that it had been updated yet again - so instead of having the salmon and chicken like every other Spice place, the entrees were either Roast Lamb Loin or Chilean Sea Bass. The current Spice menu also features appetizers of either Tuna Tataki or chilled avocado soup and a dessert of Molten Chocolate cake or something else I don't remember because I saw molten chocolate cake.

The maitre d said that although the Spice menu was good their real gems were on the a la carte menu. The meal kicked off with an amuse of coconut shrimp that was good, and the house breads are Indian pampadam with a trio of dipping sauces, the best of which was a tomato-papaya spicy little number. After perusing both menus, we settled on my wife ordering off the Spice menu and myself getting an app and entree a la carte and splitting her dessert. She ordered the tuna tataki for an app, which I expected to be a chopped version but instead was thin slices of rare tuna with some sort of root veg mash (I think) and an OK sauce that tasted a little too heavily of pineapple. She got the lamb for an entree, and that was lovely with the crispy skin still on and cooked to the requested med rare. It was a small portion (which our waiter informed us was the case with the Spice options but not the regular menu portions). I ordered a steak tartar napolean, which was huge and delicious, off the regular menu - it had an Asian flavored sauce that was unique for a tartar and used the Indian pampadam as the layers that they also serve as the house bread. My entree was the miso marinated black cod they had on the original Spice menu - not Nobu quality for sure but a generous portion of good fish with tasty little steamed gyozas as an accompaniment.

Wine list was good and reasonable. Service was professional and friendly, but our waiter had a few too many tables for a Saturday night, so we had to wait a little for water refills and such. In addition, the restaurant features two platter options - one seafood and one steak - that serve 2 or more. We saw the seafood one and it looked good if typical, but for $80 it looked like a deal to us. The steak one sounds interesting - 3 different meats with accompaniments. We may need to return to try that one.

Finally, on the same floor is a bar called Noir that is very sexy and has the view of Biscayne that the restaurant doesn't. It was a nice place for a nightcap. Total tab for the dinner with tip was $120 (2 apps, 2 entrees, 1 dessert, 1 cocktail, 2 glasses wine - 1/2 of the dinner off Spice menu).

All in all, we really liked the place. It has a very different atmosphere from almost all the rest of Miami - very classy and sedate, perfect for a date or an anniversary meal. If you like views of cities at night as much as I do and also want a reasonably priced high end meal, you should be sure to check it out.