The Golden Age of Dining

Pamela Brandt |
Food And Dining

Ah, the fabled “Golden Age.” Even back in ancient Greece, when Plato wrote of a time of prosperity and sensual abundance, the Golden Age was a bygone era. Yet another Greek historian suggested that “the Golden Age is before us, not behind us.”


In Miami, the Golden Age—or, at least, 7,000 square feet of it—is alive and well at Doré South Beach. This glittering new restaurant and lounge, connected to South Beach’s oceanfront Ritz-Carlton, is a feast for all the senses. Owner and Founder Pascal Cohen, along with his two co-founders—fellow Frenchmen and Operating Manager, Edmond Touboul, and Doré’s “First Ambassador” Nalle Grinda—offer a high-end concept that is distinctly Miami.


Doré South Beach occupies a space originally home to David Bouley’s Evolution, with design elements by renowned French architect Jacques Garcia. Garcia also designed for Jean-Louis and Gilbert Costes, French restaurateurs who provide big inspiration for Doré's founding team “We thought up the concept of Doré as three people who have been in love with and are daily customers of the Costes' restaurants,” Grinda says. “But Doré is not a duplication in Miami. With its Doré music label, its own Doré Catering department, high-end international cuisine, and affordable prices, Doré is a brand—a new statement in Miami.”


And a statement is it. With a name that means “golden,” you can bet on glitzy splendor around every corner. The expansive renovated space features stunning golden curtains and lavish floor-to-ceiling wall covers. While Garcia’s glamorous design elements remain intact—from sparkling jewel-toned mosaics to dramatically oversized Art Deco chandeliers—the ambience feels opulent without being overly stuffy.


“I love to watch people when they first walk in,” Executive Pastry Chef Kriss Velasco says. “Their jaws just drop.”


Executive Chef Jeff Pfeiffer escalates the sensory stimulation with artfully-plated dishes that delight diners’ taste buds. The menu features a sizable selection of creative small plates, assorted appetizers, and full entrées. But make no mistake—the food is not French. “We utilize classic French technique, but the food is international,” Pfeiffer emphasizes. “The menu is aimed at our audience, which, in Miami, is very much multicultural.”


That said, however, you won't find the any sliders or gimmicky sushi rolls. “I’m against clichés,” Pfeiffer says. “To please a wide variety of people, there are certain dishes you have to have on the menu. But you should take those dishes in a new direction.”


Case in point? Doré’s Caprese. “Our Caprese isn’t an Insalata Caprese. It’s actually a roasted tomato tart,” Pfeiffer explains. Topped with dairy-rich burratina (creamy-centered fresh mozzarella) and a tangle of royal-purple opal basil, this dish delivers all of a traditional Caprese salad's flavors with a concentrated, chef-driven twist. “It’s one of our most popular items so far,” Pfeiffer says.


Another hit is the Scallop Ceviche, featuring shellfish marinated for two hours in fresh lime juice—the traditional way—with authentic gazpacho Andaluz. The inventive twist combines two traditional preparations into one dish, the cool soup serving as an ingeniously soothing sauce for the bracing ceviche.


For appetizers, Pfeiffer creates a splendid Duck Bresaola, in which he layers slices of sumptuous house-cured duck atop savory Parmesan sablés. Garnished with spiced fig jam, dots of Port wine reduction, balsamic caramel drizzles, and fruity Chilean extra virgin olive oil, the result is a dish meant to be eaten deliberately, savoring every bite.


Arguably even more sensual are Pastry Chef Kriss Velasco’s desserts, combining classic French technique with wild imagination. Among her most astonishing creations so far is the Poire Belle Helene. Velasco reinterprets the dessert—traditionally a poached-pear sundae with vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup—with caramel-poached pear slices fanned out below a gilded, ornamental chocolate-almond ball. Upon pouring chocolate sauce over the construction, the golden shell melts to reveal silky homemade ice cream. The whole ensemble is a work of art, one that might even be described as other-worldly. “We call Kriss the extraterrestrial,” Grinda says, laughing.


When it comes to drinks, Beverage Manager/Mixologist Piotr Wolny considers his cocktails “conversations” between guest and mixologist. The Bell Noir (his vodka-based elixir of citrus, sweet peppers, and jalepeños muddled with fresh pomegranate syrup) is beautifully balanced exactly as it is. Yet, Wolny would rather customize it to each guest's preference. Do you favor sweet or sour? Do you like heat? Just how spicy? In terms of personalized VIP service, that's hard to beat.


Naturally, as any trendy “resto-lounge” goes, there is also auditory stimulation via a live DJ. But at Doré, that doesn’t equate to hearing loss. “We basically draw two crowds nightly,” Grinda explains. “Those who reserve tables from 7-9pm tend to appreciate sophisticated dinner conversation. From about 10:30pm on, our ambience shifts to more of a lounge-y scene.” What's more, Doré has four uniquely-defined dining areas, each with its own volume control: the grand main room; a smaller private room; a casual bar area; and the comfy rotunda.


The one sensory effect Doré’s founding partners eschew is the weight of cost. A burden on the wallet is exactly what one would expect for such an elegant and upscale evening. Yet, Owner Pascal Cohen sums it up this way: “Doré has a strong DNA and is setting a new standard in Miami Beach: great food; great experience; affordable bill.”


There's no doubt—for such a remarkable and charming space that so aptly captures the essence of Miami Beach, Doré South Beach is worth its weight in gold.