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Eden: Eh; Two and a Half Stars for Spartico

In his review of Eden South Beach, Lee Klein says that despite the excitement of having Christopher Lee down here, "it appears the heralded toque left his gastronomic muse somewhere north of the Mason-Dixon Line." Klein isn't impressed by the look of the place either, saying "The room wasn't much to look at as Talula, and it still isn't," and "the array of empty white plastic tabletops lends a cheap air." Music's too loud, too, and "If the original Garden of Eden had looked and sounded like this one, Adam and Eve would've bolted long before banishment."

And about the food: "One can find the same starter selection at any T.G.I. Fridays, but the sliders at Eden are prepared with Wagyu beef and the crab rolls culled from Dungeness;" since Eden touts a strong "farm-to-table" ethos (an unoriginal spin), why ship Dungeness from California when we've got stone crabs right offshore?"

On a positive note, the crab dip was "delectable," quesadilla and jerk seasoned fries were "tasty," and hummus was "fresh, loose, and lemony," but, here's the kicker: "Are hummus, quesadillas, and fries any way to begin a meal at a chef-driven restaurant in 2011?"

The pastrami pork belly Reuben was "creative" but also "problematic," and as for the macadamia-crusted salmon, Klein passed on that one because it was "Too Allen Susser circa 1989." More culinary nostalgia comes in the form of the miso-lacquered fish---"as rewardingly moist and sweet as it must have been when Nobu Matsuhisa introduced it in 1994."

Bottom line? "Could it be that chef Lee dumbed things down for what he perceived to be an unsophisticated Miami clientele? We can't say, but judging from lackluster crowds at Eden thus far, South Florida locals are proving savvier than expected." [MNT]

Over at, Jodi Mailander Farrell visits Spartico, the Grove pizzeria where Jonathan Eismann has been consulting since closing down a few of his Design District restaurants. Says Farrell, " Spartico succeeds where developers and architects have failed for two decades: The cozy, gourmet pizzeria makes the eccentrically extravagant Mayfair Hotel feel welcoming." But how's the pizza? They have "crispy, tasty crusts," she writes, and "easily feed two." Apparently "Eismann continues to tweak the menu while chef Walter Dilibero keeps it happening day to day." Most pies are under $15. Among the complaints? "Painfully inexperienced wait staff," a "gooey mass" of lasagna, and "disjointed music." Bottom line? two and a half stars. []

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