The Grove seems to be going through a small resurgence that’s being encouraged by a myriad of construction and culinary endeavors in the works. Ariete is a new, refreshing addition to the booming culinary scene located on Main Highway that seems to fit in perfectly, although once upon a time it was meant to call Little Havana home. The old sage saying, “everything happens for a reason” rings true to Michael Beltran, part owner of Ariete and former sous chef at the Cyrpus Room (the second owner is the mastermind behind one of our favorite watering holes in Brickell, Sidebar) since now we can’t imagine this restaurant anywhere but the lush Grove location.
Inside, Ariete looks like an oversized farm kitchen with endless subway tiles and a wood fire grill as the focal point. Small and quaint and yet spacious and inviting, you’re intrigued upon arrival.
As so, I indulged many times over when I checked out Ariete and it’s American meets New-World inspired menu on a cool January night.
We started our meal with the Grilled Oyster neatly dipped in bone marrow butter. If you order this prepare to love it and order another since you’ll only get one oyster and the flavorful coat of butter will leave you wanting more.
Trying to jump completely out of my comfort zone, I ordered the Venison tartar with lake meadow egg and espellette (pepper.) I was incredibly hesitant and slightly anxious, but totally game (no pun intended) to give it a try and I am so very glad I did. The venison was without a doubt one of the standout dishes. Although a bit musky, it was by no means gamey or tough. Dare I say, it was quite the contrary – refreshing and light. Everyone around us was probably just as intrigued because we saw several guests ordering it and unanimously raging about the dish.
I’ll admit I’ll try Foie Gras in almost any menu since I’m not so secretly obsessed. When I saw Ariete’s rendition of Foie Gras (inclusive of plantains) I immediately ordered it. The dish brought Foie Gras with sour orange vinegar, temptation caramel, ember roasted plantains and coca nibs. I’m still incredibly torn about this dish. The unexpected pairing makes me want to love it but the plantain taste completely overpowered the Foie Gras to make the whole thing a bit confusing. Again, nothing was bad about it but it did feel like there was maybe a bit too much going on and it was a tad bit disappointing because I wanted to love everything about this.
For our entrée I had the Local Fish, which is a house specialty, and then ordered market vegetables to go along with it. The Fish was good, but we would probably opt for another option on a second visit. Maybe I’m spoiled from having eaten fish by the ocean in Colombia where I grew up and where the restaurants serve the catch of the day, but there was honestly nothing particularly memorable about the fish. I should note that the veggies did add a dose of texture and bold flavors that were otherwise lacking.
After an overall satisfying meal, I poured my heart and soul into dessert. Initially, with the Sour Orange Donuts, which are buttermilk donuts with sour orange cream, coriander citrus sugar and wood-oven pineapple marmalade. This is a dish that you’ll find yourself daydreaming about way past your visit to Ariete. It’s thoughtful and has the perfect blend of sweet and citrus with a sugary doughy texture that dessert dreams are made out of. These donuts were truly a piece of art.
I also tried the Chocolate Dessert, which brings cremeux, candied popcorn, pretzel crumble, maldon and malted milk ice cream. A bit sweeter for my taste but equally as impressive and a very good option, it’s hard to go wrong with dessert at Ariete. I should note that my fiancé didn’t leave a drip of chocolate on this plate and raged about dessert in general at Ariete. Big bravo to the pastry chef!
Mel’s take: I liked Ariete. The menu sometimes works very well in its adventurous nature (the Venison tartar is a total home run) but other times falls a bit short and feels a bit forced (the Foie Gras and plantains was a lot to take at once.) Also, we were told the menu is seasonal and so in just a few months, you’ll find something new you might fall in love with.
Standout dishes: The venison tartar was a total win for me. I would have probably never tried it had I not been on this writing assignment but everything worked really well. I would dare you to go outside your comfort zone and you might be pleasantly surprised. Also, the sour orange doughnuts are total must. They will be the perfect end to this and any other meal you ever choose to have. They’re good enough to make the not very good dishes, a memory of the past and quite literally leave a sweet taste in your mouth.