photo credit: Courtesy Elcielo
Dinner at Elcielo is like watching a movie that lasts for three hours without ever progressing from the first act. You will wait and wait for a plot to emerge—for anything interesting to take place on the seemingly endless parade of fussy dishes dropped in front of you. And then, just as you seriously consider heading for the exit and abandoning the show altogether, the credits roll. It’s over. Oh, and your ticket also happens to cost $218 per person.
The suffocatingly formal Colombian tasting menu restaurant is located in Brickell, along the Miami River. Although you wouldn’t know that from inside the sterile dining room, which offers barely a sliver of a waterfront view. Instead, all the focus here is on the food—21 courses (or “moments”, as the restaurant calls them) that are all various levels of disappointing.
The first third of the menu consists of one flavorless, microscopic bite after another. Then a server comes by to wash your hands with liquid chocolate in a “moment” that might be somewhat fun if it didn’t happen smack in the middle of dinner, leaving you to pick chocolate out of your fingernails for the next hour. It’s not until course number nine that anything mildly tasty arrives: the “Tree Of Life”—a pan de yuca molded to the shape of a tree. By then, starving, you will inhale the too-big, rich serving of cheesy bread, leaving you uncomfortably full for the ensuing 11 moments.
That’s fine. You wouldn’t be missing much anyway. Elcielo’s nonexistent plot never finds its way, or delivers on the promise made on its website of a meal “inspired by Colombian ancestral roots, but using avant-garde cooking techniques and neuroscience to surprise diners.” The only surprise is how this nonsensical, boring tasting menu somehow turned into one of Miami’s most expensive restaurants, and didn’t land where most awful screenplays do: in the trash.