Miami Living Magazine

Elsa Pataky

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Page 113 of 163

Loaded with preconceived sensory memories of stiff, tradition-steeped dinners conducted at age-old American steakhouses, I didn't expect much from Red the Steakhouse (119 Washington Avenue, South Beach). Thus, I experienced a sense of vertigo on entering this new South of Fifth establishment. In place of rigid dining chairs, I found myself whisked into a black, sexy, woven-leather booth. Between the inviting expressions of the employees and the fact that I hadn't eaten since noon (it was 10 p.m.), my mouth watered before my eyes met the menu. After much debate, I settled on the tuna tartare appetizer (not always available), and the scallops served over green beans in a light coconut cream sauce. (Yes, I know it's a steakhouse, but I favor seafood. I left the red meat sampling up to my more-than-willing boyfriend.) When I spoke to head chef Peter Vauthy, however, I lamented having had to make any decision at all. "I will never cut corners on food," he began—perhaps explaining why the young enterprise, owned by award- winning restaurateur Brad Friedlander, has already attracted the likes of Michael Jordan, Rod Stewart, and Jeb Bush. "Could I get an American Parmesan cheese?" Vauthy continued. "Of course. But if I know that the best in the world is the Parmigiano Reggiano that must be imported from Italy, I really cannot get any other. I wouldn't allow it any other way." Our waiter, Dan, it turns out, was on board at the flagship restaurant in Cleveland. "Other than the bar, which is separated by a wall in the Cleveland restaurant, this place is nearly identical," he says. If the operations are truly so visually synonymous, it's no wonder that the Cleveland operation was ranked in the top ten sexiest steakhouses in America in 2007 by Playboy magazine. Our appetizers behind us, I try to rekindle the sensation of the subtle spice and perfect texture of the tuna in my mouth, and find my eyes strolling distractedly over the daunting wine wall behind the glass before me. "Five hundred on the list now, including ports," Joseph, the sommelier, informs me. "Soon it will be more in the neighborhood of five or six hundred." My date and I savor a glass of the house red, a blend crafted by Girard exclusively for Red. When our entrees arrive: my scallops, plump and tender, perched atop delicate, flavor-seared green beans, and his bone-in rib eye steak, we switch to a perfectly balanced Alsace Riesling and a Malbec, respectively. We elected three vegetable sides to accompany our entrees, and discover that among the highlights of the meal are the mushrooms. The chef imports these from Killbuck Valley, Ohio, and serves them without significant sauce, which illuminates their innate deliciousness. In keeping with Vauthy's unrelenting dedication to proper food preparation etiquette, nearly nothing available in the restaurant comes pre- fab. This includes salad dressings, croustades, even mayonnaise. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that our dessert, as though we had a square inch of stomach to spare, was also made in-house, from scratch. One modest scoop each of chocolate and pistachio ice cream, accompanied by scrumptious mini-macaroons, and we were sent over the moon. It's amazing that a couple so full could waltz out of a restaurant feeling so sexy, but that's just the ambiance that Red imparts; it's okay to indulge, it's ideal to enjoy, and it's imperative to relax. Red the Steakhouse will take care of you. See Red for yourself: Call (305) 534-3688, or visit: ML 112 MIAMI LIVING DINING Seeing Red (the Steakhouse) From seductive ambiance to uncompromising cuisine Words by Camille Lamb

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