Bal Harbour is a high-end destination where small-town charm meets stylish sophistication. It’s the place to disconnect with reality and dive into luxury. But while most people travel there to shop till they drop at one of the chicest malls in the world – you’ll want to make time to enjoy a meal at an equally elegant restaurant. There are three standout restaurants in the area with internationally acclaimed chefs preparing dishes for the tasteful eater looking for anything from fresh sashimi to a brunch of donuts and oysters.
An izakaya restaurant is a traditionally down-to-earth and after work drink spot. It’s a Japanese happy hour equivalent, serving up dishes like sashimi, yakitori and edamame. At Makato you’ll find dishes a little more substantial than a tapas serving, but they are meant to be shared. Makoto, an indoor-outdoor restaurant in the chic Shops of Bal Harbor, is part of a trendy movement for modern takes on the traditional Japanese restaurant.
Makoto is more than just a trendy restaurant; it’s a favorite among foodies and a must on any “Best Of” list of local publications. In fact, rumor has it that Wolfgang Puck called his meal at Makoto the best meal he has ever had in Miami. While that was just overheard and can’t fully be confirmed, it’s unlikely that anyone who has sat down to the Matsutake Dobin Mushi would disagree. Favorite dishes include Spicy Tuna Crispy Rice, Frosty Kobe Fried Rice, Spicy Tuna Maki, Spicy Yellowtail and Mochi.
Acclaimed Chef Makoto Okuwa is best known for his signature flair mixed with traditional sushi technique and his time on Iron Chef working under his mentor Iron Chef Morimoto. This restaurant, which bears his name, also embodies style and takes inspiration from his surroundings – the beautiful Bal Harbour and the Caribbean culture. Look for his signature “sense of whimsy” as Miami New Times food critic Lee Klein put it, in dishes like Frosty Kobe Fried Rice. Order a Sapporo or Kirin Ichiban, Japanese beer, a glass, carafe or bottle of sake and enjoy izakaya as it’s meant to be – with friends.
J&G Grill is a beachfront restaurant with high ceilings, glass walls and elegant, sophisticated décor, but it remains comfortable. The menu by famed chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten reflects the atmosphere.
It would be tough to find a chef in the area, perhaps in the world, working with the kind of accolades that Jean-Georges can claim: 12 James Beard Awards, four stars from The New York Times, three stars from the Michelin Giode and 32 restaurants spanning from Bora Bora to Bal Harbour. The French Jean-Georges is behind a culinary empire and has influenced every major chef on the American food scene for the past two decades. His restaurants have been time and time again, the hottest reservations to be had.
J&G Grill serves contemporary American cuisine with “local influence” for brunch, lunch and dinner accompanied by a wine list, dessert and cocktail menu. Start with a shareable appetizer. Move onto an entrée of conceptually consistent fare whether surf or turf like salmon (warm potato salad and baby beets, horseradish), lobster (potato gnocchi and smoked butter with pickled chilies) or chicken (parmesan crusted lemon-basil butter with haricot vert). Choose your protein a la carte and pair it with a sauce to enlighten your palate. For the real foodie looking to splurge, go with the tasting menu with wine pairings and taste a bit of all the highlights.
Mister Collins is focused on hospitality and the best of American food. The view looks over both the Atlantic Ocean and Haulover Inlet. The menu features the freshest locally sourced ingredients. Mister Collins is a “Beach Chic” restaurant with a laid back vibe, according to their Website, “don’t wear a tie.” While the restaurant is known for its high quality food and wine along with a changing seasonal menu in the stylish Bal Harbour neighborhood, it’s clear that service and hospitality still comes before simply being in vogue.
Mister Collins is located at ONE Bal Harbour Resort and everything is made right there, from the ketchup to the chocolate ice cream. Favorites on the menu include freshly soft baked pretzels, crab cake salad and seared scallops for lunch. For dinner, there’s house-made guacamole, prime steak tartare and pan roasted organic salmon.
If you’re looking for a Sunday brunch restaurant where you can eat, drink and generally be merry, try Mister Collins. You’ll brunch with a view of the ocean, in a serene but stylish dining room or outside on the terrace al fresco. Enjoy items like fontal croque madame, chef’s oysters and house-made donuts. Is it Sunday in Bal Harbour yet?
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