a restaurant located in the Wynwood Art District of Miami, delivered one of the most exciting meals I’ve had in months. Mark and I walked in for lunch without reservations and were seated immediately. Our waitress, dressed in a smart uniform consisting of a chambray button-down and jeans, gave some guidance on what not to miss, and we took her advice. With no idea of what to expect, having only discovered this part of Miami the day before, I sat in eager anticipation of my first bite. I only had a few minutes to soak in the steady buzz of energy in the small and cozy space before the first course arrived.
My dining experience began with the blue crab Shumai, three perfectly formed, bite-sized steamed dumplings sitting in a bright, Thai green curry sauce and artfully topped with a single, curled, rice crisp. The flavors complemented each other elegantly by lightly combining comfort and familiarity. The rice crisps added saltiness and texture. Each aspect of the dish was deliberate and executed to perfection. Bravo, Chef Kilgore, bravo.
As I was savoring the second bite of my precious Shumai, I noticed a low “mm-mmhhmm” sound coming from Mark, who was politely devouring his first course.
“How’s the soft egg?”
His eyes were wide but he offered no verbal response. The dish had apparently rendered him temporarily speechless. Chuckling, I took the spoonful he made for me and tried it out for myself. I can’t remember the next few seconds other than silently repeating the nonsensical word “gah.” Then I finally managed to utter a rhetorical, “Is this even real?” A moment later, Mark regained his ability to speak. “This soft egg is divine. It has this soft, pillowy top, with a decadent middle, and a crispy yolk in the bottom. This dish is phenomenally rich and creamy. Simply delicious.”
We collected ourselves just in time as our waitress came back around to check on us. She asked how the food was.
I replied, “Very nice.”
I tried to temper my excitement and play it cool, but I could tell she was probably not buying the act, given that our plates were practically spotless.
She smiled, “The next course is on its way.”
During a sober moment that lasted just a second or two, I noticed in the midst of it all a young man expertly surveying the room, chatting with several tables, and bidding farewell to happy diners. He was very subtle, not at all showy. He must be the manager.
On Alter’s website, his short bio read: “Antoine Lecas has more than 20 years of service experience managing posts at different high end restaurants.” That experience certainly showed. The restaurant was running like a well-oiled machine, even though it had only been open a few months.
The duck leg confit was delightful. What came to mind was a culinary virtuoso’s creative take on Mama’s home cooking. The dish was rich and tender yet innovative: little bitty peppers that packed a powerful burst of flavor were interspersed with dried kimchi, which added an interesting texture. While the essential profile was comfy-cozy, there were other flavors at play so each bite could be made different from the next. Quite inventive indeed.
Oh. My. The mousse was so soft, so smooth, so luxurious – in a word: impeccable. The chocolate streusel flecked with salty, crunchy bits and the creamy, mint ice cream just brought elation to my taste buds. I did some quick mental calculations to see if I could possibly squeeze in another order of it. The thought of this delectable dish actually having to come to an end was enough to put me in a state of panic. I stopped and acknowledged to myself that I was, at that moment, high on food. Relax. Breathe. Enjoy. And I did.
Mark ordered the cheese plate called Floridian Tomme. Unfortunately, this dish was not on the same level as everything else we had enjoyed. Tomme is produced primarily in Switzerland and the French Alps. This type of cheese can be made from cow’s, goat’s, or sheep’s milk and is generally low in fat. The cheese had a low-key, dark, dusty, musty flavor and was okay by itself, but just okay. It was slightly better coupled together with the compote or the fig jam, but overall it was underwhelming.
As if signaling the end of our meal, the restaurant noticeably quieted. We waited a few minutes longer than we would have liked to for the bill – our waitress appeared focused on cleaning the espresso machine and putting away silverware. The check was pretty reasonable and aside from the disappointing Tomme, we were pleased with everything. As we headed towards the door to leave, Lecas walked us out and graciously thanked us for joining them that afternoon. It was our first, but definitely not our last adventure at Alter, and we’ll certainly be back for more.
223 NW 23rd Street Miami FL 33127
Overall Score: 4.6/5 or 92%
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