Daniel Boulud Arrives in Miami


It is daring for Daniel Boulud to tread in Miami’s shifting sand. The city is known as the capital of cosmetic and social surgery. The celebrated and much-lauded creative genius behind Daniel’s, the Park Avenue gourmet temple, opened an affordable DB Bistro Moderne in downtown Miami’s JW Marriott Marquis.

A bistro it is not. Sweeping vistas of downtown Miami, a Fornasetti obelisk, private dining rooms, etched paper wallcovering in a rich peach color create a sleek metropolitan atmosphere. The setting offers a marked contrast to the warm and nurturing Gallic fair. The high ceilings, elegant and majestic, would work with less barbaric demographics where people refrain from talking 70 deafening decibels above normal.

The Bistro Moderne opened in November but Georgette Farkas, a glamorous and gracious hostess, decided to wait for the place to be running like clockwork before extending a kind invitation. She brought along a German wine and food expert. He lived in Barcelona and Madrid and is thoroughly familiar with Ferran Adrià’s El Bulli (actually started by German Dr Hans Schilling under French chef Jean-Louis Neichel). We also talked about the Italian pride in cucina artigionale. A Miami realtor was also there. Georgette had arranged for “Big Papa,” Daniel Boulud, to come over and chat. By birth a lyonnais, he is, therefore, down to earth, direct, and charmingly earthy.

Many of the items on the menu change in and out depending on the season and customer reaction. The famous DB Burger is of course a staple. The Tomato Tarte Tatin is a specialty of the house. Jarrod Verbiak, of Slovak and Hungarian background, is the Executive Chef. My chestnut orechiette (venison ragout) had a “foresty”, not “gamy” flavor. Absent was any trace of fibrous texture. The parmesan touch proved surprisingly consistent.

John Mayfield, the sommelier, uncorked a great S. Abin (Pierre Yves Colin Merey) to get us started followed by an unremarkable Chilean Monte Alpha for my venison. He treated us to a great Languedoc, Zumbai Tomasi, for my boeuf borguignon which spoke of French heartiness and subtlety. My choice for main course melted with its delicate texture, enhanced by the flavor of black truffle vinaigrette. I chose to accompany it with super green spinach and pomme frites.

The dessert creations envisioned by Jerome Maure vary from the French traditional to the South Florida creative. I opted for a Coup d’emperatrice, a coconut rice pudding on key lime and mango. DB Bistro Moderne Miami, consistent with its location, offers a number of variations on the theme of dulce de leche (Coup dulce de leche).

There is historically a great affinity in France for Tokaji (Tokaj). Louis XIV was given a bottle by Francis Rákóczi II, Prince of Transylvania, and it was served at Versailles. When Louis XV offered a glass to Mme. De Pompadour, he referred to the libation as “Vinum Regum, Rex Vinorum.” We, of lesser rank, were offered two types: Oremus and, of longer fermentation, Disznoko Aszu 5 Puttonyos, a veritable classic. Mayfield set us on a change of pace from ports, Calvados XO (DB Bistro Moderne owns a Menorval XO) a good Armagnac VSOP, or a cognac like the Jean Grosperrin XO that Boulud keeps with pride in Miami.

There is a Miami zoological male specimen prone to wear shirts embroidered with lace and other materials over jeans appliquéd with shiny beading. They are as loud as their minimally dressed and heavily produced female companions. Some have, amazingly, found their way to DB Bistro Moderne and their howls, yowls, oinks, and gibbers make civilized conversation impossible. The general manager, meets polite folk, the city’s faux, Latina hyenas, Miami Housewives, and city royalty like the Estefans feel welcome and special.

Of the Boulud brands, the Miami Bistro Moderne is the more appropriate business decision to introduce a city in tune with frijoles negros, ceviche and rodisio to the world of one of the masters of French haute cuisine.

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