Early in my career, meals at conferences were at best forgettable. But for some reason I still remember a dinner I had during my very first conference many moons ago. It was a chile relleno dish at a San Francisco Mexican restaurant that was renowned for its Margaritas. Permanently seared in my brain is the expression on our Japanese clients’ faces as they tasted their first-ever Cadillac Margaritas.
Thankfully, things change. Never was this more apparent than two weeks ago, when I had the sublime pleasure of dining at db Bistro Moderne, located on the ground level of the JW Marriott Marquis hotel in Miami, where I stayed during a week-long conference.
The db stands for Daniel Boulud, the French chef whose New York City Michelin 3-star restaurant, Daniel, forever placed him on the map of celebrity chef-dom. Miami’s db Bistro Moderne upholds his reputation with elegance and culinary artistry, and a well-curated wine list that, although heavily French, also includes some outstanding Argentine and Chilean picks in a nod to Miami’s cosmopolitan vibe.
Wine lovers who want an experience beyond flipping through the wine list can dine in the restaurant’s wine cellar. Unlike the prototypical candle-lit subterranean room, the aptly named ‘wine tower’ boasts soaring glass walls that are equipped to house wine bottles in a well-lit and airy yet intimate space.
I enjoyed my dinner in the restaurant’s well-appointed main dining room, where the evening’s amuse-bouche was a cup of carrot soup with chorizo, avocado and a dab of creme fraiche.
Although I generally don’t zero in on oysters if there are other options, that evening’s appetizer special of oysters gratinée proved too tempting to resist. Poached and served in a light hollandaise sauce and topped with crisp little ribbons of seaweed, the creamy, saltwater earthiness was a beyond-perfect match for my glass of 2009 Domaine Lafffourcade Savennieres Chenin Blanc. Limestone mineral notes, apple blossom aromas and a crisp acidity made this a perfect complement for the main course.
Once again I chose one of the evening’s specials, a pan-roasted turbot in an asparagus artichoke coulis with beurre blanc. The fish was cooked to perfection, light and flaky and practically dissolving in the mouth.
Because I am an unapologetic cheese addict, I opted for a cheese plate to cap off my dinner. The selections: Tomme de Savoie, Epoisses, and an aged Gouda. Chef sommelier Chris Lindemann’s pairing recommendation was spot-on. The 2009 Domaine Gauby ‘Les Calcinaires’ Cotes du Roussillon Villages blend, an inky red with meaty aromas that opened up into ripe dark fruit and dried roses, harmonized particularly well with the rich Epoisses.
Impulsive wine lovers who can’t get enough of the evening’s picks can request to be escorted to the restaurant’s wine shop, located on the second floor of the hotel. Sommelier Lindemann, the sole keeper of the keys, will unlock the shop and assist customers with their purchase. The store also is available for private tastings and parties.
Lindemann notes that among the shop’s best-selling wines are three from regions outside of France: A sparkling rosé from Austria, a La Follette Pinot Noir from Northern California, and a Napa Valley Cuvée Daniel Cabernet Sauvignon.
Speaking of California, I’m probably not alone in wishing Boulud would open a restaurant in Los Angeles. Until then, I’m happy to travel for business – or pleasure – to Miami, if db Bistro Moderne is on the agenda.
db Bistro Moderne, 255 Biscayne Blvd. Way, Miami, FL. 305.421.8800.