June 2015

Alter. Finally.

IMG_0521I’ve been following Chef Bradley Kilgore‘s career closely for the last couple of years. I briefly blogged about him here last fall. Clearly, I’m a fan. The wait for his new restaurant opening felt long, but Alter is finally here. I don’t usually rush to restaurant openings, but this was one of the few exceptions. Two days in and I was eagerly sitting waiting to give this new restaurant a try.

Deep in the heart of Wynwood, Alter was already buzzing by the time I arrived for my Saturday night reservation. The excitement was palpable. The haphazard industrial look screamed, “all about the food- no time for fluff.” Don’t let the ultra hipster, casual vibe fool you. This is fine dining. Kilgore showed off his skills with every single dish and delivered the very experience I expected, a great one.

A carefully cured menu listed just seven appetizers and seven entrees for the night. We considered the five-course, $65.00 tasting menu, but we chose to order a la carte instead. We started with the piping hot Bread & Beurre. One bite of the bread and I knew a second order was happening. A sumac and dill seed crust paired with umami butter that spread easily gave way for a lot of oohs and aahs. The Soft Egg came next. Forget the fork, use a spoon as we did, and order this alongside the bread. Add the caviar supplement. Trust me. The egg, sea scallop espuma, chive, truffle pearls, and gruyere mix work nicely together with just the right amount of creaminess and crunch. Feel free to use the bread when you reach the bottom of the egg bowl. Elbows can go on the table. It’s all good!

Every bite of each new dish we tried after the egg and the bread proved successful. The food was exciting and intricate without being pretentious or trying too hard. The flavors were unique in each course, and the detailed plating did not go unnoticed. Our party also tried the Guitara Noodles (aromatic herbs, lemon balm, and burrata puree), Blue Crab (Peruvian ahi, cilantro, and lemongrass), Short Rib (wild ramp, watercress, Thai basil, coriander seeds, and radish), Cape Canaveral Prawns (tajin crust, grits, mole verde, lime crema, and huitlacoche), Grouper Cheeks (black rice, shoyu hollandaise, and sea lettuces), and the Charcoal Strip Loin (accompanied with creamed greens, pureed potato, smoked visalia, and brown butter-soy).

Four of us + four desserts on the menu = easy choice. We ordered them all. The table favorite was the Fudge (Peruvian cacao, parsnip, coconut sorbet, thyme sprig, and jab porter). It’s a good thing I dined with close friends. Arms crisscrossed all night as we took bites off each other’s dishes. We also sampled the Peaches (white chocolate confit, banana bread, pretzel ice cream, and brown butter), Local Fruit (mango lemon balm, passion fruit marshmallow, basil, and lychee), and Cajeta Pot de Creme (dulce custard, tamari-milk chocolate gelato, apricot, and candied nori). I initially assumed Kilgore’s wife, pastry chef Soraya, was responsible for the desserts. I’ve tried some of her sweets in the past, and I was looking forward to more. However, when I mentioned it to her, she was quick to point to Kilgore and give him all the credit. “It’s all him!” she said, “I’m only here a couple of days a week.” I stand corrected and happily impressed with the outcome.

I often whine about restaurants being good, yet not memorable enough to run back to for a second visit (especially given the many dining options in South Florida). When it comes to Alter, I can’t say enough great things. I will be rushing back.

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