Dining at J&G Grill, St. Regis Bal Harbour is sensory dining in it’s finest hour. Sight, sound, taste and smell is replete with desire. The decor, the view, the music, the service, the food, all equal components playing in symphonic harmony.
The muted earth-rich tones of the dining room are accented with contemporary furnishings, which set the tone for this understated chic canvas of sophistication. The subtle hues of the signature purple that dot throughout the St. Regis are also carried out in J&G Grill inflecting a delicate whimsy of color.
Of course a table by the window is highly desired with views of the St. Regis pool area and the Atlantic Ocean both idyllically framed with statuesque palm trees; however out of the 84 seats in the dining room there are only so many along the panel of windows. The design of the room along with each table at J & G Grill has been strategically positioned allowing each guest, window table or not, the same panoramic view through its floor to ceiling windows.
As would be expected, no detail has been overlooked at J&G Grill including the music which has been designed, mixed and crafted specifically for J&G Miami. When you visit, be sure to pay close attention to the alternative, jazzy, sexy, chic sounds of J&G. It is remarkable how the music coincides with the overall vibe of the space.
We were there for four hours, and quite frankly one can only eat and drink so much in one sitting, you can’t do everything; so a glass of this and a taste of that, in the spectacular 2000+ bottle wine room is reserved for my next visit.
As the music has been designed specifically for J&G so have the uniforms; tailored, professional yet strikingly chic, a refreshing change for the women; the 70′s vintage, mod wrap-around-dress compliments all body types as well as the decor. Synchronicity, irony, I think not, more like a well intentioned plan, impeccably executed.
I decided to forgo the wine for the evening and experience it on my next visit as well as enjoy the wine room so the house specialty cocktails were in order, we tried the Cucumber Martini ($14) made with Hendrick’s Gin, English Cucumber and Mint and the Ginger Margarita ($12) made with Sauza ‘Hornitos’ Reposado Tequila, Ginger and Lime, rimmed with Ginger Salt. Both cocktails were well balanced and refreshing but I preferred the Ginger Margarita, there was more flavor substance happening in that glass that simply turned my tastebuds upside down and inside out. Hornitos is 100% pure agave making this cocktail effortlessly silky smooth (and dangerously easy to drink), but it was the ginger salt that rimmed the glass that brought this little cocktail to life. Little did I know the Ginger Margarita was to be the evenings precursor for me; bursting with flavor and texture leading to palpable food excitement.
By now you’ve probably figured out that my experience at J&G was impressive and memorable but it was at this point when we opened our menus we were a bit [surprisingly] taken aback. I did not do any research prior to my dinner at J&G; no visits to their website, their facebook page or any other site for comments and commentary. J&G Grill is one of those places I needed to experience for myself without influence, good or bad. I truly thought J&G would have an exorbitantly priced menu, catering primarily to the residents of the St. Regis [Resort] and the like. The prices begin moderately and scale up; at first blush, J&G has made a conscious effort with regards to pricing by keeping all guests in mind.
We started with the Spring Pea Soup, which was finished tableside by the server who combined the soup with a Parmesan/Cream Foam. Mild, subtle, flavorful, and light. This was an ideal starter dish which paired very well with the Ginger Margarita as the two flavor profiles were extreme opposites meeting on point in the middle.($10)
Wanting to stay in the vein of J&G signature dishes we ordered the Black Truffle Pizza with Fontina Cheese ($21) and the fresh made/housemade Fettuccine with Meyer Lemon, Parmesan, and Black Pepper ($12 /$19). The Black Truffle Pizza was pure and modest with its quiet flavor, pairing very well once again with the flavorful Ginger Margarita.
Every now and then there is that one dish that haunts you, envelopes you, grabs a hold of you and just won’t let go. You crave it, talk about it and dream of it. I have found what possesses me, the J&G Grill Fettuccine with Meyer Lemon, Parmesan, and Black Pepper. There are no words to describe the sheer adulation I have for this dish. The hard facts are, the fettuccine is made daily in-house. Quality Parmesan cheese and heavy cream is used for the sauce along with the fragrant and tangy Meyer Lemon and fresh cracked black pepper to round out this plate of perfection. This dish will awaken sleepy diners by playing to all senses. It’s beautiful to look at, so much so you almost don’t want to take the first bite for fear of disrupting this ideal nest of carb goodness; the sweet perfume of the dish casts a food love spell over you that you cannot help but giggle with delight; listening to yourself carry on about this dish only beckons you to finally taste what appears to be perfection. It is love at first bite.
For our entrees we chose the Grilled Scottish Salmon with a Champagne Buerre Blanc ($24) and the Milk Fed Veal Chop, with a Pistachio Pesto and Roasted Cauliflower ($49). While each of the entrees were stand up dishes in their own right it was the accoutrements that made them stand out. The Buerre Blanc was exquisite. A great balance of puckery tang and velvety cream.
The hunky Milk Fed Veal Chop, with a Pistachio Pesto and Roasted Cauliflower was a colorful feast for the eyes. This culinary Kandinsky sang to your eyes as it harmonized your food soul. Once discovered, the pesto boldly exhibited its piquant element which pleasantly ushered this entree to a new level of food verve.
Go big or go home.
There was no way I was about to stop now, having come so far and to not taste rising super-star Pastry Chef Antonio Bachour’s desserts would have been the equivalent of a mortal sin. (Bachour was named one of the 2011 “Top 10 Pastry Chefs in America” by Dessert Professional Magazine, and a finalist in the 2011 International Chef Congress Pastry Competition. His desserts have been featured in Gourmet Magazine and Alan Battman’s dessert cookbooks).
I went big.
Even though I stayed off the J&G info grid there have been rumblings about the Salted Caramel Ice Cream Sundae with Peanuts, Popcorn and Chocolate Sauce. I did more than taste and for that I deserved to walk home, all 52 miles. In a pleasant paradoxical sort of way, spoonful after spoonful of this spectacular frozen treat soothed the painful amount of calories I previously consumed. This dessert was about yin and yang; salt and sugar, cold and hot, smooth and jagged, crunchy and mellow, a composition of pure delight.
Going menu rogue for the night, our second dessert was a special for the evening; I had to do it knowing Bachour had everything to do with it; a Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with Strawberry Sauce and Basil Ice Cream. For the non-adventurous palate this may seem like a cacophony of flavors and yet nothing could be further from the truth; a surprise of flavors brought together in sweet harmony. This dessert was superbly delicate, an ideal sweet to an incredibly savory dinner. (my photo did not come out well of this dessert, and certainly does not do it justice, but I want to share nonetheless).
After going big, I went home. But I’ll be back.
Click here to view more photos of the dinner on flickr
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J&G Grill St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort 9703 Collins Avenue, Bal Harbour, FL 33154, 305.993.3333