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Balans? Blah; Charlotte Bistro, Flirty

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Lee Klein isn't impressed by Balans at Mary Brickell Village, saying a meal there is "like buying clothes at the Gap . . . like reading a novel by John Grisham . . . like being a Blue Dog Democrat." In one word, says the straight-to-the-point Klein: "Meh." In fact, if there were a million adjectives for "meh," and "bland," Klein would use 'em. Poor Balans is the restaurant version of that Voltaggio brother--not the one with the orange skin, but the, pale, monotone one. A dearth of personality has Klein pondering, but not for long, "Just how many branches of a restaurant does it take before the place becomes thoroughly impersonal?" [Miami New Times]

Charlotte Bistro and her chocolate soup flirt with Victoria Pesce Elliott enough to make her forget about too-sweet slivers of soy-glazed tuna and the over salty, overcooked and meatless Maine lobster ravioli: "Gorgeously crusted rack of lamb with loads of thyme and rosemary is another qualified success, though, like many dishes it was more well cooked than we like. Despite missteps along the way, the insanely decadent, multitextured chocolate soup is reason enough to book a reservation." They had her at chocolate soup, clearly, because two and a half stars later, Elliott coos, "Some may find Miss Charlotte Pretentious, precious or maybe just too young. I say give her time and she just might grow into a beauty." [Miami Herald]

Charlotte Bistro

264 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables, FL 33134 305-443-3004

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