One of the many reasons New York is amongst the best cities in the world (aside from being the mecca of gastronomy) is because, on any given night, you can go out and enjoy dinner and a show. Here in sunny Miami we’re limited to just the weekends, and even that’s a new development thanks to venues like the Latin-inspired El Tucan’s and most recently Faena Miami Beach.
You’ve either seen or heard stories of Alan Faena, the Argentine hotelier and real estate developer building an entire playground district for Miami’s elite along Miami Beach’s thriving mid-beach corridor. Reminiscent of Mr. Gatsby (down to his white getup that has a bohemian meets South Beach twist), if there’s one thing the eccentric impresario who started out as a fashion designer and went on to establish the most valuable real estate (a $200 million development) in Buenos Aires likes is an almost unbelievably luxurious fete. So much so that at his one billion Magic City outpost, he’s incorporated a theatre where world-class artists such as Miguel and Miike Snow have taken center stage already and original productions in the form of dazzling cabarets are currently showing.
Besides the fact that you’ll feel already feel as if though you’ve entered a Baz Luhrman film (he and wife Catherine Martin are behind the interiors), Faena’s raising the curtain on C’Est Rouge, which will also transport you to what could very well be a European opera house (Paris’ The Lido particularly comes to mind).
Acrobats, contortionists, jugglers, live music, and craft cocktails throughout the entire spectacle make 90 minutes seem like an instant. But perhaps the best thing about C’Est Rogue is the fact that James Beard winner Paul Qui is serving up a pre-theatre pre-fixe at his gold unicorn and banana leaf laden eponymous modern Asian eatery Pao.
A condensed version of the regular menu, the pre-theatre menu gives you a choice of first course, rice, entrée, and dessert. But these are no blasé or boring selections. First course features Hiramasa Kinilaw, a refreshing mélange of hearts of palm with coconut milk and vinegar, red onion, coriander and arbequina (a fancy tree from the Mediterranean) olive oil, or a potpourri of Grilled Greens, bitter and sweet greens with pine nut praline, green apple, charred onion sour cream. Both are a bracing precursors to the rest of the meal, though if you want to round out your experience go off theatre menu and order the Unicorn a la carte. The elusive starter combines sea urchin with grilled sweet corn pudding, kalamansi, chile de arbol, and a sake aioli for a result that’s as unbelievable as its moniker.
Second course features two rice and two entrée options. Go with a date and try them all, which include palate dropping Wild Mushroom Koshihikari rice with aioli, pickled onions and bitter greens for good measure and texture; Pork Adobo ginger jasmine rice with cilantro, dried shrimp, green mango pico, and a fried duck egg on it; melt-in-your-mouth smoked 72-hour Wagyu Short Rib Asado with seasonal pickles and a velvety and heavenly sweet potato puree; and cooked-to-flawless-perfection Market Fish with cilantro, chile patis, atchara, and garlic-ginger rice just in case the other rice dishes weren’t enough.
Sweet and happy endings come in the form of a Halo Halo with kaffir milk, fresh seasonal fruit, coconut, tamarind and fermented banana sorbet, or a Champorado (translation: Filipino chocolate rice pudding). Because too much rice is never enough, especially when it involves chocolate.
Curtain call for C’Est Rogue is at 9:30 (tickets are available via TicketMaster), which means if you want to indulge in the $100 per person pre-theater menu, you should plan for 8 p.m. eating time.