*But the Miami Dining Examiner’s socks are still on.
The Miami Dining Examiner had been wanting to try The Cypress Room, Michael Schwartz’s upscale restaurant in the design district, since it opened more than a year ago. Finally, for her birthday, she dined there.
The neon blue sign outside announcing The Cypress Room in cursive was inviting; the vibe of the restaurant is old school speakeasy. She was almost surprised she didn’t need to utter a secret password to enter.
Once inside the smallish space, the atmosphere is clubby and exclusive. Black and white framed photos line one wall, while the other is topped with stuffed animal heads, channeling a cool hunting lodge. Crystal chandeliers, toile wallpaper, dark wood and white tablecloths continue the privileged, exclusive feel.
An aqua banquette lines one side of the restaurant, where diners are in slightly close quarters with fellow diners. The mirrored bar lines the other, with a handful of four tops in the center and a semi-open kitchen tiled with white subway tile, in the rear.
The Miami Dining Examiner and her husband were seated right away and greeted by their server who offered still, sparkling or house water. Menus and a wine list were delivered, including a tasting menu, with no price.
The server explained the specials and the tasting menu. The whole table is required to order the tasting menu of five courses. None of the courses seemed particularly appealing or interesting to the Miami Dining Examiner.
“The tasting menu is $95,” our server informed us.
This price didn’t include the wine pairing, which raised the price to $150. While the Miami Dining Examiner recovered from sticker shock, she looked at the rest of the limited menu, which included a Cote de boeuf rib eye for two for $139.00. She asked the server if the appetizers (in the $17- $23 range) were suitable for splitting.
“Appetizers are portioned for one person,” our server replied, in a tone that discouraged sharing.
The Miami Dining Examiner and her husband ordered one appetizer and one entrée each. The wine list didn’t include too many wines she was familiar with (maybe this is a good thing?) so the sommelier was summoned. He was very approachable and helpful, even bringing a couple pours of wines to sample. A bottle of Vouvray was ordered. There are also retro-sounding cocktails available, in the $15 range.
The Miami Dining Examiner asked for some recommendations from the menu.
“Our chef does some incredibly fun and creative dishes,” the server replied, as well as the standard “Everything on the menu is good,” before offering a couple recommendations for appetizers and entrees.
Truthfully, the Miami Dining Examiner didn’t find much on the menu that seemed either fun or creative. It was difficult to find an appetizer she was excited to sample; the entrees on The Cypress Room menu, with standards such as duck, pasta and a vegetable wellington, didn’t tempt either.
A warm, rustic type roll was delivered to the table with soft, salted whipped butter. It was chewy and tasty, but hard as tanned leather. An amuse bouche- chilled soup with chopped apples- was served in a small white coffee cup. It was room temperature, smooth and creamy, but not all that amusing.
Their was a single pink tulip on the table and the bread plates came in different vintage patterns- nice touches. The crowd in the full dining room (on a Tuesday night) covered the gamut from twenty-somethings in t-shirts, to older diners dressed in Miami chic. Upbeat music played overhead, cranking thirties and forties tunes, keeping the atmosphere lively.
“Would you like to order a side?” our server asked, raving about the thrice fried potatoes.
The Miami Dining Examiner feels if you’re ordering a forty dollar entrée, it should come with a side. The one page menu offered only two sides- Brussel sprouts (aren’t they out already?) and French fries, which seems a strange side for a restaurant promoting itself as fine dining. The sides were $10. No sides were ordered.
The lamb tartar, a cylinder of pink meat, with a quail egg on top and arugula, was full of flavor, juicy and thankfully, not lamby. It came with toast slices and was the favored appetizer. The tuna carpaccio featured thinly sliced tuna with arugula, chopped slimy mushrooms and parsnip chips. It didn’t have a lot of flavor and there was no salt on the table. The parsnip chips helped, lending crunch and salt to the dish.
Dinner at The Cypress Room was served at a very leisurely pace. The Miami Dining Examiner’s husband ordered grouper with tomato water, couscous and cherry tomatoes. A side note on tomato water, which is essentially the water that drips from the tomato once it’s cut. The Miami Dining Examiner thinks it’s a cruel joke on diners. It is flavorless, almost colorless and usually paired with fish dishes in chichi restaurants, because its subtle taste won’t compete with the fish’s delicate flavor.
“It doesn’t have much flavor,” was the Miami Dining Examiner’s husband’s comment on the grouper dish.
The white fleshed grouper was a nice piece of fish, but it was bland. The short rib the Miami Dining Examiner ordered was also a fairly large piece of meat; the mahogany colored hunk came with glazed vegetables of baby carrots, onions and celery. It was super tender, slightly fatty but full of flavor; the broth was perfect for dipping the roll in.
Dessert was a must, after learning that pastry goddess Hedy Goldsmith was involved. The brown butter semifreddo ($16) was a frozen brown butter ice cream, that came with apple cider (that was poured into the bowl), juicy raisins, the surprising pop of garnet pomegranate seeds, and a crazy little cookie on top. It was a delight- mixing hot, cold, sticky, liquid, solid and sweet.
The different temperatures, textures and flavors made the dessert an interesting and creative dish, which the Miami Dining Examiner had missed experiencing in the rest of her meal at The Cypress Room. Complimentary pink colored grapefruit meringues were served after dessert.
While the Miami Dining Examiner enjoyed the food at The Cypress Room, she was never wowed. The service was excellent, the atmosphere cozy and elegant, but the prices were off putting and unfortunately, the food didn’t knock her socks off. She would actually have preferred eating at Micheal’s Genuine, which offers creative, fun fare in a more relaxed atmosphere.
While the Miami Dining Examiner originally thought a password was needed to enter The Cypress Room, in truth the only item needed is a fat wallet or fully charged Amex. Psst… moneybags?
The Cypress Room
3620 N.E. 2nd Avenue
Miami, FL 33137