Located in the beautiful space formerly used by Catch (by Season 3’s Top Chef winner Chef Hung Huynh, who is no longer with the company) and within the Shorecrest building, Byblos delivered an impeccable experience I’m eager to repeat. I had every intention of solely trying their Miami Spice Menu. And I did. Sort of.
After being cheerfully greeted by the hostesses, our party of four was shown to a table in the posh lounge area (and not in the main dining room upstairs as I’d expected). When I made the reservation, I remembered how “hot” Catch would get when full to capacity. Hot enough to often fill up, and too hot to eat comfortably. I’m not sure if the Byblos team corrected this during the remodel, but I requested their coldest table just in case. “Directly under an AC vent? Perfect,” I wrote under my Opentable reservation notes. Now, I’m used to restaurants in Miami usually ignoring any requests or details written in the notes section when reserving. Because, you know, Miami. Not at Byblos. Our waitress immediately came by and explained we’d been seated at the lounge based on my Opentable request. Nice! Major brownie points in my book for actually paying attention.
I have to admit, I initially thought the restaurant would probably be “one of those SOBE types” that doesn’t last long. Blame it on too many years of bad experiences at South Beach “it” restaurants that looked great, but mostly employed inexperienced models, and failed to deliver. But I was wrong. Service throughout the night (by our very beautiful waitress) was on point. Any question our party had about the menu was answered quickly, thoroughly, and with the utmost enthusiasm representing Byblos in the best light. How refreshing!
The Miami Spice menu at Byblos worked a little differently than others. Each person chose two appetizers, one entree, one side, and one dessert. Of course, we also ordered additional items to round out the meal. YOLO, right?
We did not have the entire menu, although it looks like we did. As I wrote in my original Byblos Miami Spice review, the Black Truffle Pide and Chargrilled Cornish Hen were the stars for the night: hot, soft, cheesy, and topped with shaved truffles. I gluttoneously ate it slowly and won’t admit just how many pieces I had. Insert guilty face here. The hen was unexpectedly delicate despite its rustically chargrilled exterior. The hand-rolled couscous looked simple as it sat in an inconspicuous white bowl, but it was actually decadently bathed in brown butter, saffron, and herbs (making it impossible to have just a small serving). Everything about the Sweet Jeweled Rice (carrots, more saffron, barberries, and almonds) captivated me. I tasted a distinct flavor profile in each dish: simple ingredients mixed with varied exotic spices.
By the time dinner ended, the very chic lounge transformed and became a little rowdier. Lights came down and the music went up. Several managers and guests began to stalk our table (perhaps eager to start the usual SOBE bottle service? Just a guess). But we weren’t ready to go just yet #SorryNotSorry. Our party was enjoying every second of this dinner. As such, we chose to wrap up our night with Byblos’ Cold Tea Service. How did I go so long without this in my life? I wish I could drink this on a daily basis. I highly recommend the Edgeware Road: Moroccan mint tea, mate, lemon verbena, lavender, and gin. Similar to a lemonade and served in small glasses, the tea was refreshing and addicting.
It’s not often I get so easily wooed by the entire experience at a restaurant. I only regret not visiting sooner. Thankfully, that’s an easy fix. Keep that table cold, Byblos. I will be back for more.