For our first night out we ended up in the Barton G. A top-notch restaurant, as we found out when we got there and were luckily dressed right. It also is quite a pricy experience, just to forewarn you. The Barton G offers all the amenities of a 4-star-place: The impeccable service, the white table clothes, the arrogant clientele.
Once we were seated, we noticed that appetizers might not be what we wanted. A couple next to us started off with “small fries” and ended up having a four-story-tower of fries which could have been their entire meal of the evening. This experience should have probably forewarned us for what was to come. I ordered the royal salmon and, alas, it did come served on a plate, but also served on a cushion beneath and a throne next to it. We figured that the restaurant’s purpose was to mock it’s paying
and rich customers with these gimmicks. Quite an original idea, but sometimes rather difficult to eat (of fear of dumping the cushion upside down). Three Russian girls next to us were spoiled with steaming cocktails (as their web site states liquid nitrogen was stuck in the drink before served), so that it looked like a magical brew.
But the highlight of this entire comical situation came with the dessert: The Chocolate Fondue! And while it did state on the menu to “Please Ask,” the boyfriend assumed that this meant whether or not they were able to serve it on that particular day. The smirking waiter readily folded up our menus, most likely happy to cash in on all the tips he would earn. Sometime later a huge fountain of chocolate was making its way towards our table – with 4 waiters carrying it, another lighting the sparklers on top of it (Yes, they were served with actual sparklers!). So here we sat, trying to devour a dessert easily meant for 6 people. I was contemplating whether or not we should sue the restaurants for not warning us how huge it was (which, had this happened in New York, would have been the logical consequence). We ended up paying 90 dollars for the entire fun of a simple dessert and I vow to warn every one of my friends to always ask for the price and size of a meal with this restaurant. And that was our (slightly tainted) experience at the Barton G, an otherwise lovely spot to bring friends and dates.
Day 2 and Day 3 were mostly spent at the beach, since it was slowly warming up. I even managed to get a sunburn on our last day, as the sun viciously perpetrated the 55+ sunblock on my skin, even though I kept re-applying it meticulously. Yes, this means the sun is very strong down south, even if you go in mid-January!
Then the stroll through town, past the Outlet, which attracts a lot of tourists and locals. I didn’t find anything worthy buying in those quite expansive stores but it was still fun to pop in and check out Miami fashion. Lots of skin, lots of flashy colors – a summer city no matter what season.
During night, we ended up bar-hopping: First in hotels and then throughout smaller joints. Starting at the Raleighs, we went on to the Delano. They had a gorgeous outdoor space, with hotel beds propped up, so that you could sit and lie down while getting drinks from the outdoor bar. The pool even offered two chairs and a table in the middle of the water. While the crowd did not necessarily attract us, we still had a good time.We also noticed that drinks are rather expensive in this town. We payed $17 for cocktails at any hotel and just a little more than $10 when we went anywhere else. With prices as high as in New York you would expect the night life to be equally appealing. Perhaps we were just at the wrong spots. The FDR at the Delano certainly did not do it for us. It was an underground club-type setting with a mediocre DJ and bouncy Eurotrash tuning in to the songs. Oh, the people walking around in South Beach? A ton of Europeans. But not so much of the appealing sort, sadly spoken. We kept looking around, expecting to see drop-dead gorgeous people but were severely disappointed. Just average people trying to feel good about being in Miami. Then of course a lot of Americans from the South and Florida itself.
The second night we spent wisely at the Havana, a Cuban-style restaurant in the middle of the tourist center. Such a kitschy hotspot that it was almost adorable to walk through. The drinks were good at the Havana, the food was ah-okay. My fish was not convincing, but his chicken entrée was supposedly great.
We went on to people-watching at the Douce, a place with a round bar and lots of locals who like to watch sports and observe the oblivious tourists occasionally popping in. Drinks are cheap, which is another reason to come back.
And finally – our last night on the beach. Discovering a stolen wallet with three different credit cards inside. We tried to drop it off at any cop who was watching the streets but they kept pointing us towards the big police station in the middle of town. We finally gave up and walked in there. Waited for thirty minutes until a lazy officer took down the details. Our luck that another family walked in, also requesting to return a stolen wallet, so that we were finally freed of Miami bureaucracy.
Our flight back was at 6 AM and it took us another 1 ½ hours with a shared-ride shuttle to get to Fort Lauderdale. In case you were thinking about doing this: Perhaps renting a car or simply reserving a taxi would be the better solution. Although it’s slightly more expensive, it won’t take you 2-times as long to get from A to B, plus you won’t have to deal with sour passengers sitting next to you.
[For more pictures of Miami, go to Miami Calling (Part II)!]