Last night I went with my parents to the Bakehouse Art Complex. The BAC was hosting an opening party for a new exhibit. We were able to wander through the expansive gallery and pop into several artists' studios. Many of the artists were holding court in their studios, greeting guests and answering questions about their work.
Of all the works we saw and the artists we met, my two favorite were JeanPaul Mallozzi and Marcelo Daldoce. JeanPaul had very unique works that celebrated body language and emotional energy. Marcelo had my absolute favorites, watercolors of famous artists and political figures where the head of each featured figure was very refined and around the chin, the painting would morph into long drip lines, sometimes three feet long. I'm really not doing the pieces justice, so please check out Marcelo's website here.
After an hour of exploring the BAC, we headed to dinner. My mother suggested a place in Midtown called Gigi. I had never been, but both she and my dad had nothing but positive things to say, so I was looking forward to trying something new.
Gigi was hopping! We arrived at 9:15pm and in a case of extreme dining karma, we got the very last table in the dining room.
Gigi sits in a long, narrow restaurant space. You can sit at the bar and watch the chefs prepare the food, you can sit at the counter in the window and look out onto the street, or you can sit in the back of the restaurant in the traditional dining room.
We got the very last table in the dining room. This part of the restaurant had very cool art work on the walls and right behind our table there was a piece painted directly onto the wall.
The menu at Gigi is very simple. There are six categories on the menu, each with three or four house specialties. The food is prepared to order, so it comes out in whatever order it's ready.
We started with some drinks. I ordered the Gigi cocktail which was champagne and passion fruit puree. I was expecting it to be pulpy, but it was completely smooth and had a refreshing tropical taste. I felt transported the Caribbean with every sip.
My dad ordered the Kirin Ichiban beer. I will never be able to hear the word ichiban without thinking of the episode of FRIENDS where Joey does a TV commercial for Japanese lip gloss for men called Ichiban. I digress.
My dad really liked the beer and our waiter brought him an ice bucket to keep the beer cold.
To start we ordered the heirloom tomato salad which came with red and yellow tomatoes, cucumbers, hearts of palm and a citrus dressing. This salad was unbelievably amazing! We gobbled it right up and used anything we could to sop up the citrus dressing. Wow.
Next we ordered the asparagus with horseradish and pea tendrils. This wasn't my favorite. I wouldn't order it again.
Next we split the mushroom buns. These were incredible! I could have eaten ten more! The buns themselves were the perfect ratio of doughy to fluffy and the mushrooms and scallions in the center were hot and delicious. My bun had some serious kick. I felt like my entire mouth was on fire, but I loved it. This is a must-order dish.
For my entree I ordered the chilled soba, which is thin noodles with spicy peanut sauce. These noodles were garnished with sesame seeds, edamame, carrots, red onion and ground peanuts. It was perfection.
My parents split two dishes. First they had the BBQ ribs. It was hysterical watching the two of them chow down. They were chomping right into each rib and getting sauce all over themselves. Between bites they kept saying, "Ohhhh, this is so good!"
Their second dish with the steak chow fun. Though I don't eat steak, I could tell this was expertly prepared. The chow fun noodles looked excellent and the dish also included broccolini, shiitake mushrooms and eggplant.
You'd think after all these delicious plates we'd be full and call it quits. Oh no! That's not how we roll. Our waiter offered us the dessert menu, which we happily perused.
We decided on two desserts. The first was the Gigi bar, which is their homemade candy bar. It's chocolate mousse, Nutella and some kind of sugary crust. It was served with whipped cream and fresh berries. My mom could not get enough of this bar. She loved it.
Gigi offers soft serve frozen yogurt and the flavor changes every night. The flavor was pumpkin and we jumped right on that. This rendition of pumpkin fro yo tasted exactly like pumpkin pie. Yum!
It's official, Gigi is my new favorite restaurant in Miami. It has a see-and-be-seen vibe, fun decor, friendly staff (our waiter looked just like a young Ming Tsai), incredibly delicious food, drink and dessert and they have $3 parking! Could you really ask for more?
My only complaint was that when I stood up to take a few pictures of the interior of the restaurant, one of the hostesses tapped me on the shoulder and said, "Miss, there are no photos in the restaurant." I was so completely stunned I just kind of stared at her. Then I said, "I'm sorry, are you serious?" She replied, "Yes, you are welcome to take pictures of your family and friends, but not the restaurant." I said, "Well, that's absurd," and walked back to my table. This was just after we'd ordered, so the entire night as I took pictures of the food, I felt like I was performing Mission Impossible. To the Gigi staff, it is a compliment when a customer loves your restaurant so much that he/she wants to share that experience via photos or video. It's 2011, everyone has a smartphone, you need to get on board.
Visit Gigi at 3470 North Miami Ave in Midtown Miami. Don't forget to order the mushroom buns!