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Elcielo Miami: The Ultimate Colombian Dining “Experience”

When the eighth dish on a 21-course menu involves licking hot Colombian chocolate off your hands, you know you’re in for a special experience.

In this case,  “The Experience,’’ at Elcielo Miami. Sequestered in a quiet section of Brickell Ave., overlooking the Miami River, Michelin-Star Juan Manuel Barrientos’ restaurant celebrates all that is genuine, delicious -and emotional – in Colombian cuisine.

“Washing your hands in Colombian chocolate and licking your fingers triggers emotions,’’ said Barrientos, who opened Elcielo Miami in 2015.

Known throughout the culinary world as “Chef Juanma,’’  Barrientos’ portfolio includes more than 13 restaurants, bars and a hotel. In addition to Elcielo Miami, he founded Elcielo restaurants in Medellín, Bogotá, and Washington, D. C. In 2021, Elcielo in Washington D.C., obtained Barrientos the first Michelin Star in history for a Colombian restaurant.

Whether in Miami, DC or Colombia, Barrientos’ combination of sensory experiences with one-of-a-kind flavors and textures, proves he is one of the world’s great culinary talents. Combining classical training (he trained under legendary Spanish Chef Juan Mari Arzak), Barrientos makes Elcielo Miami a “must dine’’ destination in a city filled with eclectic culinary adventures.

“The Secret of Brickell… a very magical place,’’ said Barrientos of Elcielo Miami, which features an open kitchen, wine cellar and illuminated bar. The restaurant has two seatings through reservations – at 6 .m. and 8 p.m. – and two prix-fixe menus, the 13-course “The Journey’’ and 21-course “The Experience.’’ Each menu changes two-to-three times per year.

For the full, well, experience, opt for the 21-course menu ($197 per person). It’s nearly two hours of small-plate perfecton, with each dish having its own name and story, such as “Tree of Life,’’ and “Colombian Emerald.’’ Some dishes, such as “Lobster Hot Dog,’’ and “Crab Empanadas,’’ are self-explanatory. Others dive deep into Colombian culture. “Yellow Butterfly,’’ for example, is Barrientos’ tribute to Colombian author Gabriel García Marquez. Yellow butterflies are almost synonymous with the master storyteller’s classic novel, “100 Hudred Years,’’for which he won the 1982 Nobel Prize for Literature.

Just as Garcia Marquez uses colors as symbols, Barrientos uses colors and flavors to define and enrich his menu.

“I  want people to truly understand that Colombian food can be made through fine dining,” Barrientos said. “It can be interactive, emotional experience.”

And delicious.

 

 

 

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