Friday, March 29, 2013

Villa by Barton G (CLOSED)

If you walk on Ocean Drive and 11th Street, you will usually see a group of people standing in front of the alluring mansion behind the imposing gates. The cameras click to capture the essence of a place known for both tragedy and revival. It is here, in the former home of the late designer Gianni Versace, that I experienced one of my most memorable adventures.

I recently began writing restaurant reviews for SFG Magazine and chose The Villa by Barton G., located at 1116 Ocean Drive, as my feature for the March/April issue. Already a fan of both Barton G. on South Beach and Prelude in the Adrienne Arscht Center, I was ecstatic to be visiting this elegant, spellbinding place and indulging in their impressive cuisine. Having gone through a metamorphosis, the Villa was rebranded in 2010 by restaurateur Barton G. Weiss as an upscale boutique hotel, event space and luxurious restaurant.

Crossing the gates, we were led to some couches outside the mansion, to wait to be taken inside. Just sitting there, admiring the surroundings, was a precursor to the opulence we would find within its walls. The anticipation grew as we entered into the breathtaking courtyard. To the left, was the lavish Dining Room; the place where Versace had his own dining room and is now the Villa's restaurant. Completely covered in pebbled mosaicked walls and marble floors, the lingering impression it provides its guests is one of awe.

Truffled Asparagus Salad
Duck Confit Crepe A L'Orange
From the moment we were seated, service was stellar and seamlessly blended in with the ambiance. We started with a glass of champagne as we looked through the menu. There were several dishes we wanted to try so we began with the Truffled Asparagus Salad and the Duck Confit Crepe A L'Orange. They were both superb. The Truffled Asparagus Salad was made with white and green asparagus and crimson petit lettuce. The seasonal morel mushrooms provided an earthy undertone to the dish, while the savory ricotta flan and shaved truffles balanced the flavors. The Duck Confit Crepe A L'Orange was a colorful palate pleaser, tickling the taste buds with sour ginger, candied kumquat and pistacchio streusel in a playful arrangement of pistachio nuts and compressed pineapple.

Flash Marinated Snapper Ceviche
For the next course, we ordered the Flash Marinated Snapper Ceviche and the Vodka Cured Salmon. The ceviche combined Key White Shrimp and Key Lime with Mango, resulting in citrusy splendor with a jalapeno kick. It was pure harmony for the senses. The cured salmon looked more like a work of art topped with  mustard caviar, dill pearls and golden pumpernickel, than cuisine. It took a few moments of admiration before we put our forks to the test. Delicious!

Vodka Cured Salmon

Maro Grouper
Breaded Crusted Diver Scallop &
Anise Glazed Veal Cheek
As a main course, we tried the Bread Crusted Diver Scallop & Anise Glazed Veal Cheek, and a special of the evening, the Maro Grouper. The Bread Crusted Diver Scallop was mesmerizing, igniting a burst of flavors from both land and sea.  Bathed in a golden raisin caper broth, the tender meat and the delectable toasted oak cake enveloped all the senses. The Maro Grouper sat atop a bed of forbidden rice simmered in burgundy beet reduction. Combining the mild and distinct flavors of the popular fish with the richness of the seared foie gras, it proved that it too should become a regular part of this glorious menu.

Chocolate-Praline Mousseline

A meal like this is not complete without a sweet surrender and that is exactly what we did. We ended the gastronomic part of the evening with two fabulous desserts. The first was the Chocolate-Praline Mousseline, a decadent layered temptation of valrhona ganache, hazelnut mousse and salted caramel. My heart skipped a beat from the moment I saw its beautiful presentation in the delicate tea cup. The Key Lime Fantasy was just as divine, uniting Chantilly and salted graham with sweet lime custard. A perfect ending to a perfect meal.

Key Lime Fantasy

Sitting Area of Donatella Suite
Opulence and Splendor at its finest
Before we left this opulent mansion, we got the opportunity to learn more about the Villa and all its splendor; as well as visit some of its impressive rooms. It truly is a magical place that is perfect for an unforgettable ocassion. At the end of the night, your wallet may be significantly lighter but the evening will be a memory never to be forgotten.

Don't mind if I do...
For more information about the Villa by Barton G, visit them online at or 305-576-8003.

The Villa by Barton G. on Urbanspoon

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