Chef Alvaro Beade Marries Old and New at IDEAS

2833 Bird Avenue, Coconut Grove

Reviewed by Sara Liss

In service, décor and culinary wizardry, IDEAS is top notch. Chef Alvaro Beade executes Spanish cooking from the Castilla y Leon region with a confidence and elegance that is both accessible and lofty. From the page-long list of Chef’s suggestions to the standard menu, the selections at the restaurant marry old and new ideas about traditional Spanish cooking. Red wine braised veal cheeks are accompanied by baby lima bean ragout while Mediterranean Sea Bass is dressed with cauliflower parmentier and wrapped around a Castilian “pisto,” a ratatouille-like mixture of zucchinis, onions, and tomatoes.

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The owners have done a great job of transforming the space, a nondescript clapboard house on Bird Avenue, into a graceful dining destination. The dining room is a tasteful mélange of beiges and soft creams in the form of warm travertine floors and flowing drapes. The lighting in the restaurant is just dim enough to make anyone look sultry. The air is blessedly music-free so you can have normal dinner conversations without shouting. The dining room also has a space-agey element to it in the form of the glass-enclosed massive display kitchen at one end of the room through which servers run food through noiseless sliding glass doors. I also spied a chef’s table inside the kitchen, where foodies can get front-row views of the gastronomic acrobatics going on in the food theater. The service is miraculous at Ideas. Waiters and bussers manage that delicate balance of attentiveness without being overbearing; plates were promptly cleared after each course, cutlery and water refilled without having to ask.

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Appetizers of piquillo peppers with creamy cod and cognac sauce were soulful and hearty, the cod just smoky and salty enough to meld with the sweetness of the peppers. A lovely plate of plump boquerones (anchovies) in vinegar brought me back to Madrid, the time I fell in love with anchovies. Except these were much more swoon-worthy, nicely tart and zesty, with a bite that was as refreshing as the ocean from which they sprang. An amouse bouche of honeydew melon soup was a perfectly simple and eye-catching, delivered in a tall shotglass. The goat cheese salad with pecans and honey was hearty and satisfying, the cheese moist and fresh, the walnuts crisp and warm. Desserts of crunchy chocolate brownie and blueberry cheesecake were offset with flutes of strawberry juice, a fitting cap to a well-executed meal.

Appetizers $9-$14, Entrees $24 -$36, Desserts $8 -$11.

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