Bâoli Miami: Some Restaurants Are (Luckily) Not Always What They Seem

There are several reasons I generally avoid the club-restaurant hybrids. Firstly, I threw in the clubbing towel at age 22. Secondly, I am usually starving by 7 p.m. anyway, so what am I going to do for five hours while I wait? Lastly, the most infamous of the Manhattan bunch, a midtown  "staple" that shall remain nameless, was just as overrated as I thought it would be when I was forced try it out in the name of a birthday.

Bâoli Miami, however, manages to get it right when it comes to dinner. You just have to make it inside first.

At first glance, it looked like the place had been shut down. We called the restaurant, and fortunately, a hostess emerged from a tucked-away side entrance behind a single black rope to lead us down a narrow pathway lined with photos of party goers, past the lounge and dance floor—those padlocked doors and black windows were all a façade! Very clever, guys.   

Once we arrived at our table out back, it was an entirely different scene. The sprawling outdoor garden is decorated with colorful plants, unique seating options, and strands of twinkling lights that become even more beautiful as dusk turns to night. In short, it is absolutely magical. 

Despite the menu's Asian lean, chef Gustave Vertone—who initially began cooking and studying in his native Italy—finds room to incorporate French and Italian techniques to create some very interesting combinations. The wagyu carpaccio hits the spot with its moist, tender, paper-thin slices of beef and Parmesan-Reggiano cheese soaked in yuzu truffle aioli; and the crispy tuna tart made with creamy ponzu and organic truffle oil had a soothing, velvety texture. For our mains, we decided on the Japanese truffle risotto made with shiitaki, shimeji, porcini broth, and topped with black truffle shavings; and the Bâoli Roll, which is essentially "surf and turf" nestled inside of a soy paper and rice cocoon. Everything was yoi, buono, and bon—or, as we Americans say, good.

By the time a giant platter of chocolate fondue—loaded with enough fruit, brownies, and other goodies to feed about ten people—landed on the table, we had to surrender.

Okay, we popped a few pieces, but we took the rest with us, successfully making everyone else at the beach jealous of our snack the next day.