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May 27, 2007 06:12 AM

Christabelle's Quarter (cgrove)

Did anyone go this weekend? I believe they opened on Friday. The menu looks great, especially lunch-oyster poboys, gumbo, jambalaya, muffaletta's.... I'm going to try to get down there today/tomorrow and will post back.

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  1. I went this past Saturday night for dinner. I have been waiting impatiently for this place to finally open and was so excited to dine there! Overall I enjoyed it and thought the food was good.

    The service was a little shaky, but I think that's to be expected the second weekend a restaurant is open. After placing our cocktail order and waiting for about 10 or 15 minutes without seeing our server again, a very attentive busboy came over and asked if we had ordered drinks yet. He actually went and placed the order but our server reappeared and delivered them (she brought the wrong drink for my husband though). She seemed a little out of sorts and was running around a lot without actually accomplishing anything.

    I think a big part of the problem was that our table and several of her other tables were kind of crammed into the bar area and there were a lot of people hanging out by the bar, standing around in the way of the servers trying to wait on us. Once that cleared out, the service improved noticeably.

    The dixieland band they had playing that night was a really cool touch, I don't know if this is something that will continue every night, but live music is always fun. Unfortunately, in the tradition of bands everywhere, they thought of themselves as the main attraction and played VERY LOUDLY. The big room with incredibly high ceilings probably added to that, but the noise was a bit much. Our server immediately apologized upon greeting us that she would have to yell at us all night to be heard over the music.

    Ok, the food.....I had the Oysters Brochette appetizer (oysters, wrapped in bacon and fried) which were good, just slightly overcooked. I like a nice golden brown crunch on fried items but these were fairly dark brown, still edible though and still tasty. My husband (not a seafood fan) had the chicken and andouille gumbo, I tried it and we both thought it was very good, one of the best items I tried.

    Our server told us that the kitchen was "overwhelmed" with orders and that she was putting in our appetizer orders and then waiting a bit to put in our entree orders. We didn't have to wait long though, we wouldn't have known anything was amiss if she hadn't told us. I had the crawfish etouffee which I liked quite a bit. It had a lot of decent-sized crawfish pieces but could have been quite a bit spicier and still appealed to the general public, I think. Most people dining at Christabelle's and ordering etouffee are probably looking for their food to have a bit of a kick, this could have used a little extra spice. The serving was also very large, for people who like that sort of thing. I don't think I even ate half of the dish. I considered ordering a vegetable side but I'm glad I didn't, it would have been way too much food.

    My husband ordered the NY Strip and a side of cajun rice. He liked the steak and thought it was better than what you get at most restaurants that don't specialize in steak, and it was cooked correctly for his medium request. As I mentioned above, he doesn't like seafood but only grumbled a little about the menu being so seafood-focused. There were a few steak choices. I tried his rice and thought it was good, seasoned well, but still not spicy at all. I wish I had asked for some hot sauce or something, at least for my etouffee, but I always feel like you shouldn't do that while fine dining, like it's an insult to the way the chef intended the food to be served. But maybe if people ask for something to spice up the food, they'll realize that what they're serving needs some oomph added to it!

    We didn't order dessert, we usually don't unless something sounds really great. The server told us that the chocolate cake and creme brulee aren't good and that the pecan pie is the item to order. She also told us that the coffee is really bad and to get coffee somewhere else. We don't drink coffee but I guess if we did, we would have appreciated the heads up. I wonder if the management knows about her straightforward style? She also called both my husband and me "sweetie" and "sweetheart" a couple of times which drives me nuts. Coming from a waitress at Denny's or something it would be one thing, but it was especially off-putting in this instance.

    Overall, I'd recommend this restaurant, I really hope it does well and stays around. It's refreshing to have something new and different in Miami. I'm really excited to have an option other than Latin, Italian or Steak!

    I wish I had been with a bigger group (or that my husband liked seafood) so I could have sampled more of the interesting dishes on the menu. I'm anxious to eat there for lunch because I love oyster po boys! If anyone tries one, let us know how it is!

    1 Reply
    1. re: paulalovestoeat

      They got a tiger by the tail over there!

      1st off, the place is gorgeous! You got to go do a walkthru just to see the place.
      2ndly, it's going to be hell trying to coordinate that food up a flight or 3!
      3rdly, it's new and they'll need some more time to fire on all cylinders.
      4thly, the food I tried there was definately different and very good I might add, however the execution is still very much out of sync.
      5thly, the Grove can use all the new biz it can get, and this mammoth place is a very nice addition to what had become a very sleepy side of that famous old "hippie" hood.
      6thly, creole conisseurs should be whistling dixie that there is now new hope here in the MIA.

      I give the place 2 thumbs up just for the ambiance alone...however, the jury is still out on the service and cuisine. I think the latter will shine moreso than the former, seeing how service in Miami rarely shines. Having said that, the managers are from very respectable fine dining's an uphill battle though given the layout and inherant party atmosphere over there.

      All in all, it is a welcome addition to the Grove that is for sure!

    2. What a disappointment? Ate dinner last night 06/10/2007 with a 10:00pm reservation for a party of 4. The restaurant is spectacular...3 floors,stained glass everywhere,wrought iron everywhere,60 ft. long bars,jazz band etc...The instant you walked in, it felt as if you had been transported to New Orleans. The architect and interior designer did a phenomenal job......

      Unfortunately the food and service was not up to par.We had a great booth on the 2nd floor, but after that it was downhill from there.Took 15 minutes for our waiter to arrive for our drink order and at that time he informed us that they had run out of bread and none would be served....not the end of the world.

      We ordered the Appetizer Sampler which looked fantastic on the plate, but every item from the oysters to the shrimp was bland, except for the Fried Eggplant Sticks, I mean no flavor, nada, this is supposed to be Cajun/Creole Cuisine?

      When we were done with the Appetizers, 20 minutes later, we were informed that 2 of the dishes we ordered had run out (Tournedos Patout + Crab Cakes) so instead we ordered the Veal Louisiana and Crabmeat Imperial....When the entrees arrived the Veal order had been changed to a Veal Chop that in no way resembled the original order, without us being informed, and the Crabmeat had so many scales in it, that I could not finish the now 2 of the 4 glasses of water on the table had been drank and by the time we left 45 minutes later no one had come by to refill them or to clear the dirty plates and our waiter was nowhere to be found...we were frustated by this point so we just wanted the check...when the waiter finally arrived he had the check in hand and although we were not going to order any, no dessert or coffee was offered......
      We decided to cap off the nite by having drinks on the 3rd floor and ordered 4 martini's...The bartender handed us the drinks in plastic cups a la College Fraternity style and her response was that they did not have enough glasses to go around...Like I said at the beginning what a disappointment....

      As is usual in Miami, most places open up to a lot of fanfare and 6 months later when it's not the hotspot anymore, and the flash cannot hide the lack of substance, they fold...I wish Chef Patout lots of luck but I will not return to his establishment, especially when Emeril's in Miami Beach has far better Gumbo and a superior wait service, not to mention the Beach and Sand right at your feet off their back deck.

      1 Reply
      1. re: jrx522

        I agree with above. Very poor service and mediocre food. Although a beautiful place its not remotely like a real NO place.

      2. any new reviews??? by now they should be close to firing on all cylinders, it's been 2 + months now. I am looking for recent reviews and not early open critiques. Every place deserves some time to work out the kinks! Anyone been in the past couple weeks? It's now 01 aug 07.

        6 Replies
        1. re: netmover

          I'm going tomorrow night and will report back!

          1. re: LesleyEats

            thanks...I hope you're not taking one for the team and it exceeds expectations, that is if you have any left after the above posts?

            1. re: netmover

              Ha! I am going in at my own risk...

              1. re: LesleyEats

                Ive had at least 5 dinners at Cristabelle's and all have been very enjoyable. The only complaints I have is that they changed the App Sampler and got rid of all of the good stuff (Fried Blue Crab Claws were money!). I was there on teh opening night (well, unofficial opening night) and had a great time. The live music on the 2nd floor is great. Ive seen at least 3-4 different jazz/blues bands there that have really added to the experience. Its a shame that they have turned the 3rd floor into the typical Miami joint. Now you have to pay a cover to get in and all they do up there is play latin music. It sucks because, a.) we've got enough of that latin music everywhere else and Im not a fan really, and b.) having to pay a cover in the Grove is absurd and if you dont pay you miss out on the 3rd floor terrace which is cool to hang out on. Anyhow, this is a food board so I'll review what Ive eaten there...

                App Sampler - I usually just get this for the table. Old one was money, new one is OK. Flavors are there, just mostly cajun spice. There is a nice remoulade with the fried crawtails and the crabmeat is good too.

                Oysters brochette - You could slap bacon on a spare tire and Id eat it with a huge smile on my face. Bacon wrapped around oysters and then fried?!?! I could feel myself getting fatter and didnt care. Great item!

                Crawfish etouffee - this was the 1st item I ordered and it wasnt bad but probably my least favorite. Just a little too salty for me, but nice chunks of craws in there.

                Flounder - They had this on the menu at one point but its gone now. Maybe they couldnt get enough of it because each time I ordered it I got either the last one or the next to last one. It was good while it lasted.

                Cajun Smothered Roast Duck - This was phenomenal. The duck meat was cooked perfectly and the sauce was incredible. Meat falls right off the bone and is light and tender. Mmmmm...

                Tournedos Patout - Ive had this 3 times now and I gotta say, if I ever meet a girl who can make oysters brochette and this dish, we're getting married. First off, the guy/gal that works the grill at Christabelle's is amazing. Each steak that I or my companions have had has been SPOT ON perfectly cooked. Ive never had a medium rare that was so tender. The manager said they prep the beef for that. At first it looks a little rare, but when you bite into it, perfect medium rare. Now, take that perfect steak, plop in onto a fried eggplant fritter and then add crawfish and cream sauce?!?! Fuggedaboutit!!

                For dessert Ive had the creme brule. Pretty standard, but Im kinda picky when it comes to creme brule and this one was good. Nice vanilla to it.

                Overall, I really enjoy this place and actually had to take a sabbatical from going there (its a tad pricey and I was going way too often as it is seeing that I live a block away...). The atmosphere is fantastic, the food is great, and the live music always kicks ass. Drinks are pricey, but they do carry my favorite bourbon - Basil Hayden - and I think they keep stock of it just because of me anchoring purchase behavior haha. Only thing Id like to see changed is to get rid of the cover and latin music on the 3rd floor so we can have at least one place that has a theme and sticks to it.

                1. re: Blind Mind

                  --Friday night, party of six with reservations at 930
                  arrived promptly at 930 to discover velvet ropes and a mob scene at the host's stand
                  --people had been waiting over an hour for a table
                  the place was mobbed!
                  --chaos and confusion at the host stand
                  --our party decides to wedge into the downstairs bar while the host stand tries to figure out what to do with all the people waiting for tables
                  --i ask the bartender if they have any specialty cocktails; he replies "like a hurricane?"
                  --er ,not exactly, but anything?
                  --"no we dont do specialty cocktails"
                  --"er, ok. I'll just have a chardonnay"
                  --drinks served in PLASTIC cups!
                  --an HOUR later we were seated, after hounding the host over and over --we were about to leave but decided to see how long it would take
                  ---seated on second floor, great table, next to live jazz band which was stellar
                  ---service was swift and impressive
                  ---food--sadly--mediocre---the best dish we had was the broiled louisiana oysters---very savory with garlic flavor
                  --appetizer platter was too fried
                  --main courses were ok, but paltry portions and no starch or vegetable or even garnish for the plate. very bare minimum
                  --all in all, i'd go back for oysters and music but not main courses.
                  --the velvet ropes are absurd
                  --hopefully they get their reservations system in order

                  1. re: Blind Mind

                    One thing I didnt mention is that service is spotty... Sometimes the servers are over-attentive, to the point where multiple servers are hounding the table which gets annoying. Other times they are nowhere to be found. In all fairness, the place has been open for a few months but is just starting to get mainstream popularity. And yes, they need to lose the goddamn velvet rope. People go to the Grove to AVOID that SoBe crap.

          2. Christabelle's Quarter, we all hoped that this would be something different. A restaurant that would be a leader in South Florida. Unfortunately, it was a huge dissapointment, perhaps Alex Patout did not do his homework nor did the owners allow a restaurant with so much invested be such a joke. A twelve top that waited two hours for there food, once served the disgusting array of the chefs lack of skills began to show. Shoemakers at there finest, the food was burnt. The service was pathetic, management did not have a clue.
            Would never recommend this place. The worst.....

            10 Replies
            1. re: gourmandinternational

              Wow... I havent been to this place since probably around June time (thanks to work travel and my desire to try new restaurants), but it appears I havent missed anything. The atmosphere is A+. The food, at first, was A-/B+ but now it seems to be around the C-/D range... Too bad. Go to French Kiss next to Flanagans for killer French food. The atmosphere struggles a bit, but they do the best with what theyve got considering they are tucked away on Bird Road.

                1. re: Sobe

                  One of the quotes in the article is hilarious. It says that "His food was too heavy. Locals did not receive it well." The guy is cooking creole food, what do locals expect!? The guy was probably pulling his hair out with locals' requests to lighten up his food. Don't blame him for going.

                  1. re: lax2mia

                    Actually the quote was from the owner, who, let's be honest, may have other motives. I wouldn't expect the owner to say, "hey, we got the place set up, we're crowded, tourist season is around the corner, let's fire Patout and bring in some no-name for 1/3 the salary." I'm guessing that's the more likely scenario.

                    1. re: lax2mia

                      I've got friends who travel to NO regularly and love the food and were disappointed in this place. I don't think it's that he was cooking creole food - he was cooking lousy creole food.

                      I ate at Patout's restaurant in the Quarter on a pre-Katrina trip and it was far from my favorite meal in New Orleans.

                      1. re: lax2mia

                        I think it was because almost everything on the menu was fried. Yes, nawlins cooking is heavy, but there are ways to make it not so bad. I ate at one of my favorite restaurants in the South yesterday, Pappadeaux's, which is definitely nawlins style cooking and is kickass. I had seared tuna with a poppyseed dressing and green beans and sauteed spaghetti squash. It was the 1st time Id ever seen spaghetti squash on a restaurant menu and I love that stuff.

                        1. re: Blind Mind

                          Actually none of the entress at CQ are fried. Gumbo ain't fried, Etouffee ain't fried. Also, they have a raw bar. What you ate at papadoo's is on the menu at my local sports bar. With all due respect, it ain't Creole. It ain't Cajun. And spaghetti squash was very hip in the '90's. That's probably why one rarely sees it today.

                          1. re: Miami Danny

                            Not that I really want to argue this at all, but there are a ton of fried items on the menu. Ok, so most of the entrees arent, big deal. They are still heavy with a cream sauce which likely turns off the Grove crowd. I liked CQ when it opened but its been a downhill fall since then foodwise.

                            And no, the food I had at Pappadeaux's is not at your local sports bar. It is a Creole/Cajun joint (maybe that particluar meal was not creole/cajun, I'll give you that - the sauce was money though) and, with all due respect, if youve never been there (which by your comments mean you most likely havent) then I really dont think youre in the position to comment. I cant stand when people diss places theyve never been, just a pet peeve.

                            1. re: Blind Mind

                              Pappadeaux's is excellent. I ate at the Houston location on several occasions when i had a consulting gig in town.

                              1. re: Blind Mind

                                There is not one single fried entree at CQ. Yes, a few have cream sauces, but French food tends to have a cream sauce every now and then. And my point was that the owner may have had an ulterior motive in dissing Patout's cooking.
                                Papadoo's is a chain where you ate seared tuna-I've eaten that at Mike's at the Venetian in Miami. That's pretty straightforward. I'm not dissing papadoo's, I'm saying they prepare seared tuna at my local diner, also. I never dissed the place. For all I know it's the best restaurant chain in the entire south, probably the best 'Cajun' food in Texas.
                                Maybe Patout isn't the greatest, or maybe he is. But at least he's not some no-name cooking off a corporate menu.

                  2. Anyone been since the chef change?