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Prelude by Barton G. is the Fifth Beatle; Botequim Carioca: Tasty Dishes, Fun Staff

One would think that the soundtrack to reviewing Prelude by Barton G. would involve show tunes of some sort, but Lee Klein was on a Beatles kick , saying that Barton G.'s original incarnation "was to most other Miami dining establishments what the Beatles were to barbershop quartets. Prelude by Barton G. . . would be more like the Fab Four unplugged." Prelude, in Klein's eyes, would also be the Hot Beatle. "It's gorgeous," he writes. But it's also the Friendly Beatle, offering 90 labels of wine in three portion sizes which "is just one of many customer friendly measures . . . Friendliest of all is the "Diner's Decision" concept of ordering." Speaking of ordering, "do try the five sumptuous homemade pasta bundles, filled with ethereally soft cheese and tossed with asparagus tips in sweetly roasted red pepper cream--even if it means having it for dessert." For those wondering about Barton G. Weiss's flair for the flamboyant, while "The details remain: Glassware and cutlery are of the highest quality," "There are, however, no duck decoys or shrimp enshrouded in dry ice smoke, no Brobdingnagian cotton candy confections or nitrogen cocktails or coffee beans culled from animal turds. There are no pop-tarts in toasters or milk shakes in blenders; surprisingly, no kitchen appliances whatsoever were brought to the table. Prelude is practically prop-less." The chefs are also praised for putting "on a striking show without any props," but dessert is another story. "Prelude plugs in at dessert time, perhaps because Barton's P.T. Barnum instinct dictates that show-stopping numbers come last." To the tune of a Beatles ditty, of course. [MNT]

Despite the fact that her "gringo friends struggled withthe name before deciding to dub it 'that karaoke place,' Botequim Carioca is no second-rate cover band of Brazilian churrascarias according to Victoria Pesce Elliott. In fact, it's "a breed apart from our herd of Brazilian churrascarias," she writes. "More of a tapas bar that also has a menu of filling main courses, it's worth a try if you're in the American Arilines Arena neighborhood." But what if you're not in the 'hood? "A Brazilian girlfriend was impressed by the number of native dishes on the menu including, of course, some of the loveliest salt cod either of us had tasted outside Rio." What if you're from, say, Brooklyn, though? No problem. "The kind, multilingual, all-male crew is well versed in the menu and quite proud to give descriptions and advice, although we also encountered bussers and waiters who were as clumsy as Brazilian soccer star Ronaldo's dating skills." D'oh! That said, "It would be tough not to love the puffy pillows of pastel misto, an array of golden, hand crimped empanadas." VPE also liked the "other well-handled deep-fried treats," and said that "most of the ample tapas platters fall under the category of drunk food. Examples of cleaner cooking include the previously mentioned bacalhau gomes de sa, a larger platter of tender salt cod chunks seasoned judiciously with a flavorful dressing. The classic picanha, a thin, juicy thin slab of grilled sirloin, is flavorful and satisfying, especially with a mound of seasoned rice and crispy Brazilian onion rings." Drinks, however, are another story and "on the stingy side, as are pours of an anonymous merlot." End result? 2 1/2 stars. [MH]