There’s danger in naming a restaurant Adrift, because it better not be a rudderless sunset cruise captained by an absent chef. It needs to be another kind of Adrift, a place that’s inspired by a wanderer in search of the world’s finest foods.
Which one is Adrift Mare in Brickell?
It’s a question I was asking myself walking into the dramatic dining room on a Sunday night, hoping it would live up to its marketing materials. The restaurant’s website promises inspiration “by the many nuances of life along the Mediterranean coastline,” gathered by “Michelin-starred Gypsy Chef™” David Myers (who really did file a trademark for that nickname). Based in Los Angeles, Myers designed the menu “with warm summer evenings on the seaside at heart.”
Adrift Mare did indeed replace the heart of the space it occupies, taking up the 25th floor atrium of the AKA Hotel. Overhead, the ceiling rises about a dozen stories, with massive paper lantern light fixtures hanging down like pendulums. Looking out through a wall of glass on the east side to Biscayne Bay is captivating, to say the least, though its sleek design doesn’t speak of warm Mediterranean evenings.
That theme plays out more on the menu, which hits the region’s highlights here and there. The fattoush salad is a stack of bibb lettuce leaves, lightly dressed and dotted with pomegranate seeds and svelte croutons. The stogie-shaped lobster roll is stuffed with lobster meat that has a tang to it, more like a ceviche. The bucatini with arugula pesto comes under a puffy winter coat of aged parmesan. A lamb shish kebab sits beside a row of pickled veg, a fluffy spiced pita, and a couple sauces that add a lot to an otherwise simply seasoned dish.
The most original of the dishes was the crispy eggplant; discs of it were covered in a charcoal-spiked beer batter that left the vegetable looking like it survived a house fire; while bland, there was a nice texture contrast, with the soft eggplant and crunchy charcoal exterior, made even better from a dredge in garlic aioli. The dessert, too, looked quite original. Out came a deconstructed baklava with pistachio sponge, filo triangles, and spiced walnuts.
As we finished that dessert, we watched, finally, another customer arrive. Up until that point, the dining room held only us and a lone woman at the bar. Even with that showing, a hip-hop track boomed, as if waiting for a nightclub to pop up. But hey, maybe that’s the music the Gypsy Chef™ heard on his journeys.
We can’t say if Myers is back there steering. And who knows if this quite attractive ship will fill up. But there are enough good things here to hope Adrift stays on course.