Report on Miel at the InterContinental Hotel
What was just supposed to be drinks at the bar (Rumba) turned into a full-fledged dinner at the restaurant (Miel) because the bar was packed with a mostly male, suited clientele. The food was very good to excellent across the board. It is really, really nice to have a new fine dining restaurant in town that isn't either classical/bistro French, New American or Italian. Decor-wise, the space is also a refreshing change from others in the city - very large, done in soft yellow tones, with a fireplace, planters of spring flowers and views of the ocean.
We stuck to Provencial selections: tuna tartare with basil ice cream, zucchini and tomato stuffed with pulled lamb, a large (slow-cooked?) duck breast with honey and coriander, and sautéed scallops and arugula with a honey vinaigrette. For dessert we shared a delightful berry and candied-olive soup with lavender ice cream. Everything was very competently executed, with fresh, herby flavors coaxed from the noticeably high quality ingredients. Our favorite dishes were the combination of cold, creamy basil ice cream against the meaty cubes of tuna and the jewel-like range of berries (raspberry and blackberry were the prominent ones), delicately heated and crowned with the floral-herbal notes of lavender. This was my first experience with candied olives and they were a marvel - totally transformed from what an olive usually tastes like - no tangy astringency at all. Wonderful, warm and slightly chewy bread came with a choice of two olive oils (one light and floral, the other heavy and herbal - we preferred the latter). The bartender produced a series of some of the best French 75s I've tasted. The bad news about the cocktails was the price, which we learned when the bill came: $20 a pop per champagne flute-full. Sure, places like the Oak Bar are near that for their martinis, but those suckers are huge. The total bill came to $150 for the two of us (fully half of that was alcohol) and we left very full.
One option that wasn't available yet but should be soon is a "quartette" which lets you choose any 4 items from the menu, which arrive all at the same time and for something crazy like $28. With the quartette, if you don't drink much, a night out at Miel could be a real bargain.
Right. There's actually a section of the menu dedicated to honey-based dishes...about 5 of them. We wanted to order things that appeared to be specialties or unique to the cuisine of Provence - hence the preponderance of honey mains. There's certainly lots on the menu that's more mainstream, though (meat and potatoes or bistro-y sandwiches) and, as Chaumiere points out, a raw bar section.
I went to Miel on Saturday night and was very impressed.
We shared one the three seafood platters. It was mainly raw bar items. Maybe it's because they had just opened but the portions were very generous and the seafood was extremely fresh. The oysters were opened the right way, something that for me can make or break a shellfish experience. They have a great list of champagnes by the glass and we drank a couple of glasses while we ate our seafood.
For our main courses I had the rib eye and my wife ate the spare ribs. The rib eye was cooked perfectly and nicely seasoned. It was served with fries and ratatouille. My wife had the spare ribs and I could tell by her reluctance to offer me any that it was very good. The spare ribs were served on a bed of gnocchi.
The food prices were reasonable, the platter was about $50, the entrees were all between 20 and 35. We had a 1999 bottle of bordeaux from Margaux that was expensive but really worth it. I agree that drinks are overpriced, but you expect that in a hotel.
We finished with a cheese plate that was OK. I think the blue on the plate was a d'Auvergne, it was really superior to other cheeses. A slab of that would have done it for us. There are a good selection of generic dishes from Provence but nothing "out there" like you might expect from a Michelin rated chef. Atmosphere is the problem with this place. It was dead. Also you feel like you are in a restaurant in a Vegas casino. The decor comes off a little fake. The menu is similar Eastern Standard but I'd venture to say that the food is a little better here.