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2.5 Stars for Rusty Pelican;The Villa By Barton G.: Worth the Splurge

Enrique Fernandez says that "For years, it mystified me that a restaurant that boasted such appealing views served such appalling food as the Rusty Pelican." In the ambiance department, Fernandez says "wow and wow." Food, however, not so much. "Once you stop wowing, however, some of the old contradictions surface. Don’t get me wrong. This is nowhere like the outdated industrial cuisine of days past. This is nouvelle, Nuevo, new. Insistence on small dishes is a good thing, though some are better than others; that the penchant for complex combos can produce forgettable results." Bottom line: 2.5 stars. []

Lee Klein swanks it up at the "quite expensive" Villa by Barton G. The prices are par for the course, Klein says, asking "Can you imagine walking into a palatial setting, through an opulent lobby, past a seductive lounge of nostalgic splendor called the Moroccan Room, into an intimate dining area with walls of pebble mosaics imported from Spain and a frescoed ceiling and Versace-designed Rosenthal china — and then being handed a laminated menu of affordable burgers, pastas, and salads?" But is it worth it? Klein asks the same thing. "Is dinner at the Villa worth this type of dough? The answer lies in the eyes (and mouth) of the beholder. You can certainly see the money on the plate, so to speak." Klein doesn't answer his own question until the last line: "The Villa still delivers a singular dining experience, and Jeff O'Neill continues to plate sensational tastes. Those are two things you can bank on — if you can afford to." [MNT]

The Rusty Pelican

3201 Rickenbacker Causeway, Key Biscayne, FL 33149 305 361 3818

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