"If restaurants had IQs, Gigi would be a genius," surmises Lee Klein in this week's review of the Midtown noodle/bbq spot. "Everything about the place is smart, starting witht he decor and ambience . . .it bespeaks big city . .. late night . . .youth . . . energy . . . fun." Klein calls chef Jeff McInnis "one of Miami's most talented young turks. That was a very wise pick." The menu? "Enlightened," Klein says. Braised short rib was "delicious," but ceviche substituted white tuna for Florida snapper and "lacked celery and sweet potato." Meaty chicken drunksticks were "a dee-lish $5 snack." Standouts: duck leg and tempura tiger shrip whose "kim chee spread alongside was so addictive I found myself dipping other food items into it." Caribbean-influenced pad thai ($15) and steak chow fun ($16) "are the Maseratis of this menu."
Also tops: the value. "A couple could ostensibly order every single one of Gigi's 20 menu items for less than $100 per person." Desserts impressed too. "It's so astute to offer bitty bites . . for just a buck." And there's "More Gigi ingenuity: a large, free parking lot." Open late, too, and soon for lunch. Bottom line: "What does it mean for a dining establishment to be conceptualized and operated so brilliantly? On a recent Monday at 10 p.m., a flock of patrons was huddled around Gigi's counter. They were waiting for some seats to open up." [MNT]
Victoria Pesce Elliott visits long running Ocean Drive seafooder A Fish Called Avalon, where ex Forge chef Kal Abdalla presides and "is working to smooth the staff's rough edges." That said, Abdalla's "kitchen skills clearly need no honing. They are evident in the near perfect geometry of his diced veggies, the confident balance of sweet and spice, the stunningly composed plates and the vast repertoire of expertly executed sauces." What worked: Bang Bang Shrimp, shrimp and grits, escargot "with a perky parsley sauce with loads of garlic served over tender-firm baby gnocchi," "photo-ready scallops," and "glisteningly fresh whole branzino cooked to delicate perfection," among other things. Not so much? "A seafood risotto with all the right elements . . . marred by firm-as-crudite carrots and a spoiled cheese taste," "creamy fettuccine mistakenly dubbed carbonara," and "the obligatory Ocean Drive 18 percent tip, expensive valet parking and seedy streetscape." [Miami.com]