Haven’t seen the new Barton G. restaurant on Biscayne Boulevard in downtown Miami? It’s tucked away inside the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts. But don’t wait until you have tickets to a show — dining at Prelude by Barton G. is an experience that is much more than an opening act.
Prelude achieves the harmony that you look for in a restaurant. There’s delicious food, a great wine list and with three courses for $39, it’s a great value. Combine these with the chic and soothing decor (you’ll be mesmerized by the images of large jellyfish floating across flat screen TVs), and you’ll want to dine at Prelude often.
Prelude is a rarity in Miami — it’s easier to get a table after 8pm than it is to dine earlier. As it caters to the pre and post-theater crowd, Prelude gets busy around 6pm and again after 10pm. If you’re seeing a show book your reservation right away since the restaurant will get sold out before the theater will. And thanks to the prepaid reservations, you won’t be stuck waiting for the check when the curtain is about to go up. Even if you’re not dining on a deadline, attentive servers keep the meal moving along efficiently.
Downtowners will want to make Prelude their new wine bar. From Champagne to sweet and fortified wines, there are nearly 100 wines to choose from. Best of all, every single one is available by the glass. You can even order a tasting size or a half glass. If you do decide to order a bottle you’ll be glad to know Prelude’s prices are lower than most other Miami restaurants. I enjoyed a lush and complex 2005 Bordeaux for $48 a bottle. If the wine list is a bit intimidating, just take a look at the dinner menu. Each dish has a suggested wine pairing.
Prelude offers a three-course prix fixe menu (two courses for brunch and lunch). If you’re not in the mood for the standard appetizer, entree and dessert you have the option of choosing any three menu items (two menu items for brunch/lunch). If you would rather order à la carte, be sure to arrive after 8pm.
For an appetizer I recommend the Beef Carpaccio, which is sprinkled with a shallot-infused olive oil and served with coarse salt, pepper and horseradish mustard on the side so you can season it however you’d like. Pleasing to both the palate and the eye is the Tuna and Roasted Beet Salad. Red and yellow beets are arranged to look like a checkerboard, and the tuna is topped with a sweet and spicy mix of ginger syrup and jalapeño emulsion.
For an entree I couldn’t get enough of the Duck Confit. It’s moist and tender and served on a savory bed of braised green lentils. Fish fans will want to try the Seared Red Snapper, which is topped with a lemon caper butter sauce and served with eggplant, zucchini, fennel and squash. Our server raved about the Goat Cheese Tortellini, house-made and filled with chèvre, red onion and chives, topped with a red pepper cream, roasted red pepper strips and asparagus tips.
Be sure to save room for dessert — the appetizer and entree portions are fairly big but the desserts are huge. And they’re so rich and delicious that you won’t want to stop eating though you’ll likely have to. I loved the PB&J, which is a big scoop of grape jelly gelato between two peanut butter mousse pyramids that are topped with macadamia praline glaze and chocolate ganache. Just as good, if not better, was the Cookies and Cream, a chocolate chip cookie bar topped with mini marshmallows, caramel, brownie pieces and glazed pecans, served with a house-made crème fraiche ice cream pop. Just thinking about how tasty these were makes my mouth water! I’m looking forward to my next visit to Prelude so I can try the Crazy for Chocolate, a triple chocolate cupcake with a chocolate buttercream and truffle filling, covered in chocolate ganache and topped with a cherry.
As a downtown resident, I’m thrilled to have Prelude within walking distance of my home. It’s my new go-to place for an enjoyable multi-course meal or a nice glass of wine. Really the only thing I can complain about is that Prelude isn’t on Open Table, which would make it easier to check the table availability between 8pm and 10pm.
Don’t let its location fool you. Prelude by Barton G. is definitely worth a trip even if you’re not seeing a performance. It actually may be better if you don’t have tickets — that way you won’t be tempted to miss the first act.
Prelude by Barton G. is located on the second floor of the Ziff Ballet Opera House in downtown Miami’s Arts and Entertainment District. Lunch and brunch are offered from 11am to 2pm on matinee performance days; the dinner and bar menu is offered from 5pm to late on Tuesday through Sunday.