Permit me to begin this review by disclosing that I am fundamentally opposed to any restaurant as mismanaged as those in the Hillstone Restaurant Group. While alike in many ways, with the same impersonalized, faux-friendly service, similar wine menus, and similar eats, the disparity between the Hillstone in Coral Gables and the Houston's in North Miami does not go unnoticed; while I have had several inferior experiences in both, this one was particularly unfavorable. Knowing what to expect in any restaurant is key, and, especially with a franchise such as Hillstone, it is disappointing when a venue fails to deliver on the only thing they are consistently good at. In this case, it would be the food.
Seated at the bar, my companion and I were greeted and promptly delivered our wine. That was pretty much the end of service.
We selected the Clark and Telephone, a Pinot Noir from the Belle Glos family of wines that is a notch up from the Meiomi found at Aventura's Houston's. A fan of both, I can attest that the wines throughout this franchise are very reasonably priced, as well as notable. Thankfully, the wine was delicious, because we were not revisited by one of three bartenders until having leisurely knocked out half of the bottle.
The spinach dip was reliably good, as was the Thai tuna roll. The sushi selection at this location is one of the reasons we were inclined to stop in. Our water glasses were empty most of the time, and attendance from the staff was poor.
We ordered a bottle of Honig, a fabulous little Cabernet, and waited some more.
To order our Hawaiian Ribeye, I had to be assertive. I almost wish I wasn't, because what we received was atrocious. Formerly USDA prime beef, our steak arrived perfectly cooked at medium-rare, but lukewarm and tough. It was so awful that I had to saw off my first bite in physical discomfort. Against the wishes of my companion, I sent it back. They graciously and promptly delivered a new steak, with no new sides, and it, too, was tough. It became clear to me that they no longer serve prime, but have moved down to choice an still charge what they did for prime. If I wanted a choice ribeye, I would buy it from the grocery store.
No manager apologized, although I had not eaten any of it, and nobody offered to take it off of the bill. I do not believe in raising hell for the sake of receiving good service, but I will absolutely never dine there again by choice.
Go for the wine and the ambiance. Have some spinach dip and their daily specials, but do not go there for their service, the value, or the steaks.
All in all, the meal cost well over $200.00 and my dreams of delicious, supple, fat-marbled ribeye. Shame.
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