Miami Beach is usually the focal point for people visiting Miami, but one neighborhood out of the beach’s range that has been getting buzz is Wynwood, where I walked around with my wife Jun on a Friday evening. The neighborhood reminded me a lot of Brooklyn, with artsy graffiti and murals everywhere (definitely check out the Wynwood Walls); I was actually pleasantly surprised with the high quality of artworks with unique perspectives and oftentimes not-so-subtle political messages. Alter, led by chef Bradley Kilgore, is located in the Wynwood neighborhood, and ever since its opening has gained acclaims for highly experimental cuisine so I knew I had to check out this place. Overall, the dishes Jun and I had some unique elements and were delicious.
Alter offers tasting menu options only with two levels of wine pairings if you are inclined. At $75 per person for five courses, the proposition seems like a bargain compared to New York standard, but didn’t feel too cheap after we had an amazing cubano sandwich for lunch earlier that day at about $10. While each dish was beautifully plated with lots of different elements, the execution wasn’t always perfect. Parmesan ice cream with tomato glass, Peruvian avocado, shiso and seaweed salt was a nice appetizer but its seasoning overall was stronger than Jun and I would have liked, as was the snapper sashimi with feta, labneh, cucumber, lime and chili vinegar. On the other hand, trout that came on the third course was quite delicious, and worked together well with salsify for an interesting complexity of flavor and texture, and duck breast was one of the better duck dishes we’ve had this year, beautifully grilled to nearly perfect texture. A dessert dish of plum wine yogurt, sake and Tonka bean was delicious and not too sweet the way I liked, but it didn’t have a particularly memorable impact on our palate.
Alter is a very popular restaurant and the dining space was fully packed during our meal so I suggest booking a reservation in advance. There is full bar with the usual wine and cocktail selections (I found the wine bottle pricing to be a little too aggressive). The dimly lit restaurant has a hip décor with neon signs that screams awesome date nights (and indeed many of the diners we spotted were couples). At the end of our meal, Jun and I debated what KenScale score Alter should receive. While we both appreciated the creativity behind each dish, we weren’t blown away them it either as we sensed some misses on flavor, texture or overall execution here and there, not too fatal but also not enough for us to give more than 8.0. I guess one drawback of dining in New York City is that you have probably seen it all and are less likely to be surprised. Alter felt like a nice (but not life-changing) bargain tasting menu if the exact same dishes were presented in New York at the same price. I always hate to sound like a snobby New Yorker, but Jun did point that we should assess a restaurant outside of New York based on the totality of our dining experiences, the vast majority of them in New York, so whether it’s fair or not, I will stick to that rule.
- Creativity: 8.5/10
- Execution: 8.0/10
- Ingredients: 8.0/10
- Flavor: 7.5/10
- Texture: 8.5/10
- Value: 8.0/10
Address: 223 NW 23rd Street, Miami, FL 33127
Telephone: (305) 573-5996