Biltmore Miami Restaurant Palme d’Or – A Taste of Michelin in Miami
Upon entering the Biltmore Miami’s Restaurant Palme d’Or, you will be transported to another place and time. It might be the historical energy swirling around Coral Gable’s oldest and poshest landmark. Or perhaps it’s the impressively attentive staff, greeting patrons with beaming smiles and open arms. Whatever the cause, walking through the doors of Restaurant Palme d’Or instilled in me a sense of awe and wonder, the crisp elegance and accommodating nature instantly making me feel like a VIP.
There are few places in Miami at which one can have a Michelin Star level of fine dining, but the French culinary experience at Palme d’Or rises to the challenge masterfully. It is no surprise that Palme d’Or is the only AAA/CAA Five Diamond Restaurant in Miami and one of only three in all of Florida, sharing its prestigious claim-to-fame with Salt at the Ritz on Amelia Island and Victoria & Albert’s in Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort.
The genius behind this captivating eatery is Michelin star awardee and James Beard “Rising Star” nominee Chef Gregory Pugin (pronounced Pew-jahn). I had met Chef Pugin at several food-related events prior to visiting his restaurant, and on each occasion he whisked me away to Foodie Paradise with his extraordinary talents. At the 2014 To Live and Dine Miami, he served Leek with Foie Gras and Black Truffle, plated in elegant golden eggs—a dish about which I still fantasize. It was by far the best bite of that night, beating out a plethora of exquisite offerings prepared by twenty of Miami’s finest restaurants.
This past June, at Taste of the Nation, Chef Pugin again had the preeminent bite of the evening, effortlessly outclassing the dishes of over fifty other restaurants. His Foie Gras Crème Brûlée with Cherries tantalized the die-hard epicurean crowd, and I am not ashamed to admit that I returned for more than a dozen of his delicious bites. After that borderline religious experience for my palate, I was firmly committed to visiting Palme d’Or to try Chef Pugin’s hallowed tasting menu.
Chef Pugin employs fresh, local, and sustainable ingredients as much as possible, but his main focus is transporting his lucky diners to France for a voyage through aristocratic French cuisine and ambiance. Pugin states that he “like[s] to prepare classic French dishes and add a slight twist of modernity to them…looking for that perfect balance…to give each guest a unique and amazing meal.” No where is this more evident than in his decadent eight-course tasting menu—an ostentatious and utterly memorable experience that will linger on my tongue for years to come.
Restaurant Palme d’Or offers two types of tasting menus—a six-course menu ($115), which gives the diner flexibility to choose his or her own dishes, or an eight-course menu ($160), which is set. The wine pairings offered for each dish are nothing short of remarkable and should be considered an essential part of the tastings. With either menu, the staff, led by manager (and chef) Patrick Calvarese, formerly of Azul, presents the food with flourish and elegance reminiscent of a ballet performance. There must have been at least five different fastidious, warm, and smiling servers fulfilling our every desire at any moment, before we even had the chance to think about what we wanted.
I shall not go through every dish I sampled, as part of the delight of visiting the restaurant is the glorious surprise the diner experiences each time the golden dome covering each course is removed to reveal the culinary treasures therein. However, I shall highlight my favorite moments of the night. If you cannot resist the temptation of knowing more, feel free to gaze in astonishment at the rest of the plates I enjoyed in the photo gallery below.
While the buttered, tear-away bread served the moment you sit down is addictive, practice restraint (even as the staff offers you an endless supply of it) because it pales in comparison to the gastronomical journey you are about to embark on. Make sure to take a moment before the epic meal begins to truly cherish and appreciate how lucky you are to be able to give this incredible gift of flavors to your mouths.
The La Terrine de Foie Gras au Sauternes (Duck Foie Gras Terrine, Sauternes Gelée, Country Bread, and Peach) is one of the most divine renditions of the dish I’ve ever experienced, and I always order foie gras if it’s on the menu. The presentation itself is breathtaking—it took me a minute to finish admiring the plate before I could even begin to meticulously taste each wonderful component. The exquisite Sauternes wine gelée and perfectly buttery, home-baked country bread elevate this foie gras to the stratosphere. The Sauternes wine it is served with is one of the best wines I have ever tasted! It was my first experience with Sauternes, a wine created in the Sauternais region of Bordeaux from a blend of Sémillon, Savignon Blanc, and Muscadelle grapes, and the distinct, sweet flavor instantly bewitched me.
The Le Coeur de Palmier a la Truffe Noir (Hearts of Palm Carbonara Sauce, Pork Belly, and Black Australian Truffle) is an epiphany. As my dining mate and I slid the first bites into our mouths, we mumbled, in unison, “oh my f’n Lord,” as our eyes widened in awe at the heavenly umami flavor. I was salivating as I slowly, and with a touch of sadness at the ever-diminishing portion on my plate, prepared the next bite. Pork belly and truffles are some of the best ingredients on the planet, but it is the sweet hearts of palm “pasta” and luxurious carbonara sauce that truly makes this meal sing. This is a truly momentous and one-of-a-kind dish, one you should take your time with to truly savor and enjoy.
The Le Boeuf Kobe du Japon A5+ aux Carottes (Japanese Kobe Beef A5+, Braised Kobe Beef Cheeks, Carrots, Potatoes, Sauce Daube, and Old Balsamic) is an innovative way to serve the highest quality of Kobe beef. The A5+ Kobe (the letter rating refers to the level of marbling within the meat) is supremely tender and flavorful. The decadent and creamy side of potatoes hide a sumptuous and surprising portion of braised Kobe beef at the bottom of it. The asparagus sauce is a fantastic, fresh contrast to the rich Kobe, while the old balsamic potato croquette might be the best part of the dish.
The Le Citron Vert au Basilic (Vanilla Sable Breton, Lime Mousseline Cream, and Lime Basilic Sorbet) is a perfectly-balanced citrus-forward dessert, with an elegant and powerful lime ice cream fit for royalty. The gorgeous ring of edible flowers decorating the plate add a stunning aroma to the offering, in addition to creating a beautiful presentation—make sure to treat yourself to a whiff before diving into the velvety goodness of the dessert. The silver almond ball is a true treat that we saved to relish in the end of the course.
The final surprise of the night is a confection cart that Willy Wonka himself would have envied. In his honor, we, of course, indulged in one of everything.
To date, I have eaten at eight Michelin starred restaurants in four countries—and many of the enrapturing plates crafted by Chef Pugin at the Biltmore Miami’s Restaurant Palme d’Or are in the same league as those served at one, two, and even three star establishments. The feeling of grandeur in the setting, accented by views of statues and the pool, the exceptional staff, the world-class wine list, and the phenomenal ingredients and preparations combine to make Restaurant Palme d’Or truly first-rate spot and a definite Must-Try in South Florida.