There are many restaurants in Miami that bring out the vixen in a girl. With music pumping, crowds lurking and plenty of eye candy, dining out in Magic City is never as simple as securing reservations. There is hair that needs to done, dresses that must be bought and heels that ought to be at least 5 inches tall. Yes, dining out in Miami is a major undertaking. Food wise, finding a place that is worth this kind of effort is at best hit-or-miss. For all the fabulousness that blankets this city, gastronomy has not gained the same momentum as nightlife. That, however, has not impeded some brave restaurateurs from attempting to set a new standard. Juvia, located atop of 1111 Lincoln Road, is the newest of contenders hoping to deliver an eatery that will live up to the anticipation and hoopla.
The first thing you notice about Juvia is how indisputably sexy it is. Blame it on the view or the lush botanical wall, or less-is-more decor approach. There is a strong, laid-back vibe here, somewhat reminiscent of LA, even if the menu is anything but. The washed out background is the perfect canvas for all the chic-ness that radiated throughout the restaurant on the night my girlfriends and I decided to rank Juvia's fabulousness.
"This is one gorgeous place," said Alina, who coincidently was celebrating her birthday.
Her brand new pair of bright pink stilettos looked crazy hot against the flickering SOBE skyline in an understated dining room, leading us to believe that Juvia just might live up to our expectations. As we oohed and aahed over each other’s carefully edited looks for the evening, the waiter brought us a little something to wet our whistles. It was tequila night for me, so I opted for one of Juvia’s spicier offerings, featuring jalapeno, while the ladies stuck to a bottle of sauvignon blanc, the wine connoisseurs that they are.
By 11pm the restaurant was in its highest gear, with people hovering around the bar and hips swaying to the beat of the DJ’s booming system on the outdoor patio. As a group of perpetual dieters, we ordered a bunch of appetizers, and kept open the option to order entrees later. Opting for lighter fare we settled for tuna poke, beef carpaccio, mixed ceviche that featured octopus, mahi- mahi and rock shrimp in aji sauce. Word to the wise. When serving ceviche in Miami one must be aware of the city’s hefty obsession with said dish. The seediest of neighborhoods feature Peruvian joints offering amazing interpretations that will rock your pallet in all the right ways. Juvia’s attempt didn’t measure up, unfortunately, but with the tuna poke, the chef redeemed himself. The rock shrimp was a creamy and unexpected take on a classic and the Asian flavors in the Carpaccio were bold and memorable.
“To our health,” offered Michelle, lifting her glass, while I scoped out the place in efforts to spot some local VIPs. Many were in the house, but unlike other restaurants, at Juvia they seemed at ease, adult like, more interested in what’s on the plate as opposed to what just walked by their table.
In typical skinny girl fashion, my friends concluded that they were stuffed, but as I have never met a fois gras I didn’t like, I couldn’t resist Juvia’s version. This adaptation surrounded by a pineapple/grape/mango chutney was left on the grill a little too long, for my liking. We also decided on a heart of palm salad, which had a nice citrus finish to it.
And it wouldn’t be a proper birthday celebration/review if we didn’t order a dessert. “Let’s get the chocolate thing,” said Sharon, stepping forward and taking charge of the sweets. It was a chocolate mousse on a bed of white chocolate foam, and while some would argue that all chocolate was created equal, this one was way above average.
By the time we left, Juvia was still in full swing. “What was your favorite part?” I asked my girlfriends. “The company,” Alina concluded. And if the intention of any dining out experience is to bring people closer together, Juvia rules supreme.
Photograph by: Ivan Nava