Articles from: September 2011

Cirque Eloize ID at the Adrienne Arsht Center & Haven Nightclub Saturday, September 3

Cirque Eloize IDCIRQUE ELOIZE Adrienne Arsht Center, Miami 

“The valet is closed. They’re not parking any more cars,” a rain-soaked man told us Saturday evening as we were 10 minutes late for the 8 p.m. start of the Cirque Eloize show at the Adrienne Arsht Center, in Miami. Life may be about the journey, not the destination – but try telling that to anxious ticket holders like us who drove all the way from Fort Lauderdale in a blinding squall (at night, mind you), and who just waited 20 minutes in the Valet line and want their damn car parked to the tune of $25 so they have an opportunity to see one of the more unique Cirque du Soleil shows to come along in some time. 

Luckily, the rain slowed enough that we were able to park the car, scamper across the stree and make our way to the entrance. The show had already started at that point, so the usher waited for a break in the action to put us in seats that far exceeded what we had purchased. 

Cirque Eloize is the younger, hipper cousin to the Cirque family of shows, which are a fusion of operatic drama mixed with amazing acrobatics. The website calls it “a spectacular, mind-blowing fusion of new theatrical circus and urban dance.” Less dramatic and light on the visuals, Eloize is the story of a typical day in the life of a large metropolitan city, see through the eyes (and actions) of its street goers. Eloize’s story is told through a playful mix of choreographed dance routines interspersed with awe-inspiring feats of acrobatic prowess – all set to a thunderous soundtrack of break beats, hip hop and EBM. Several of the slower routines were in the vein of the Cirque drama, but were a welcome segue to the more up-tempo numbers. Overall, we were very impressed with Cirque Eloize. 

HAVEN NIGHTCLUB Lincoln Road, South Beach—http://www.havenlounge.com

Pop Drop Cocktail

Pop Drop Cocktail

The opening of a new nightclub in South Beach is akin to a Sarah Palin verbal gaffe. It’s not much in the way of news. Interesting, perhaps – but not enough to pique your interest in an earth-shattering way. 

So, after the Cirque Eloize show Saturday we decided to head over to SoBe’s newest night spot, Haven. Located just north of most of the retail stores and restaurants on Lincoln Road, Haven is a welcome addition to the plethora of South Beach late-night venues. There was a doorman at the front of the establishment, which didn’t bode well at first (I thought he looked like a “yacht club cocktail party casual” ESPN sports anchor Scott Van Pelt, in his white pants and navy blue blazer). He asked us if we had reservations, which we did not. Inside I spoke to a young girl who said we could grab a table if, and only if, we were out of the place in two hours (apparently Haven’s tables are a premium as the South Beach nights heat up).

Slider & Tots

Slider & Tots

Our feeling was this was going to be a colossal time suck, but we ventured in and were seated. Besides the usual good-looking patrons, we were quick to notice the incredible (and elaborate) light and sound system inside the club. A DJ stationed in the back was spinning a sultry mix of down tempo house and trip hop music as people noshed on tapas-styled appetizers and mixed drinks. Haven bills itself as a “digital intimate Hi-Fi lounge serving fresh organic small plates and innovative cocktails.” For drinks, Mitch and Jen both ordered the Elevate, a delightful blend of pineapple-sage infused partida silver, lime and agave nectar. Kim ordered the Pop Drop, a complex, cold martini comprised of Tito’s handmade vodka and cucumber juice, garnished with a playful basil popsicle. Both drinks were incredible. I settled for a Brooklyn Lager. For food, we decided on the XL slider lamburger, which is topped with lavender-coriander honey, apple-fennel slaw and ouzo mustard; the XL Prime Beef slider, with neuskes bacon, guacamole, tomato and Vermont cheddar cheese melted on top. We also shared two orders of tater tots, topped with Maytag bleu cheese, chives and balsamic ketchup. Overall, the food and drinks were quite good, though a bit pricey, which is what you come to expect in South Beach nightclubs. The staff was friendly and accommodating – and at no point did we feel rushed or uncomfortable in our surroundings. Haven is a welcome addition to the South Beach scene, with great drinks, delicious food – all without the attitude.

Mai Kai Restaurant, Ft. Lauderdale

Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if there was a Hawaiian/Polynesian-themed restaurant in town that served island food, plusMai Kai really strong fruity, rum-soaked drinks in cool-looking glasses served up by co-eds clad in skimpy island wear? Oh yeah, and put this all under a thatched roof faux tiki-style building with torches and “waterfalls,” too.

Welcome to Mai Kai, located on Federal Highway, in Fort Lauderdale.

Since its inception over40 years ago, The Mai Kai has been offering tourists and locals alike authentic Polynesian cuisine (think Japanese or Korean BBQ, but with more Don Ho and less Kim Jong-Il) and dinner shows consisting of Shakira-like hula dancers and dudes twirling fire batons. However, most locals (us included) prefer to sip drinks in the Molokai Bar, which is located just inside the restaurant. If you’ve never been, check it out some time. With its signature clipper ship nautical-themed décor and polished wood bar, the Molokai Bar is a relaxing saloon in which to enjoy cocktails and/or appetizers with friends, or as we noted, a fair number of business professionals taking full advantage of the Mai Kai’s happy hour drink prices.

Food reviews are mixed, though the Mai Kai’s drinks are top notch. Looking at the illustrated, full-color menu, you’ll notice the cocktails are divided into three categories: mild, medium and strong. Kim and Mitch had the Cobra’s Kiss,  and Jen enjoyed the Tahitian Breeze while I sipped on a Hidden Pearl, a medium strong punch laced with rum, served in a tulip glass.

Mai Kai Back Bar

Mai Kai Back Bar View

This particular night, one of our favorite local bands, Slip & The Spinouts, was playing sets from 6 to 9 p.m. It was Slip’s birthday, so in true fashion he celebrated his big day doing what he loves most: playing kick-ass rockabilly music and enjoying a few birthday libations between sets. With dinner plans already made and still in a proper frame of mind, we finished our drinks, said good night to Slip and the boys and headed out. As to the libations, just keep in mind that yes, the Mai Kai’s drinks are fruity, cold and delicious – but they can also be deceivingly strong. Here’s a simple sobriety test: order one drink and enjoy it. If you’re bold enough to cross the two or three-drink threshold and start seriously entertaining the idea of twirling fire, hula dancing or singing Tiny Bubbles, it’s time to say aloha to the Mai Kai. Cheers!

Wanderlushes

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