You’ll have your head in the clouds with the dreamy food at El Cielo

The Chef at El Cielo, Juan Manuel Barrientos, is a pretty big deal, I mean he was recently featured in an issue of American Airlines’ in-flight magazine American Way Magazine. That’s because the Colombian-born’s innovative menu has created quite a buzz in Miami’s restaurant scene.

OK, so they’ve got this chocolate therapy course where melted chocolate is poured all over your hands. However, that is not part of the Miami Spice menu and I wasn’t shedding any tears over that. I’d much prefer to eat melted chocolate with a spoon than off my hands, but to each his own.

However, at a recent Miami Spice preview dinner there was a great selection of some of their most popular dishes, both appetizers and entrees.

Here’s what my better half and I had:

Black and yellow soup

I started with the very artistic and showy black and yellow soup which is put together when brought to the table. In the soup bowl is a poached egg nestled on top of lentils that resembles a tree with a bread stick serving as the trunk. Then, the yellow beet puree is poured around it into the bowl.

Farmer’s Chicken and Colombian Atollado Rice

As the entrees we chose the Farmer’s Chicken and Colombian Atollado Rice, which is Colombia’s version of risotto served with a soy and orange roasted chicken. The moist, juicy chicken and creamy rice made a great pair.

I chose to go with the grilled salmon and instead of the creamy coconut rice, I opted for the vegetables. The salmon was a hearty portion and had a wonderful crispy crust and was set atop a trio of sauteed vegetables that still had some bite to them. The meaty salmon and crunchy veg made for a great bite.

We ended it on a sweet note with each of us choosing a different dessert. There are two on the Miami Spice menu, Dulce de Leche (his choice) or Mango-Chocolate (mine).

Dulce de leche

The Colombian dulce de leche (which my husband loved) was made with a rum and raisins gel, coconut crispy, butter crumble, lemon gel and ginger ice cream. They’re all about the presentation here and this one was art on a plate.

Mango chocolate dessert

My choice was made of chocolate hazelnut ganache, compressed mango, hibiscus granita, vanilla madeleine, mango ice cream and mango tuile. This one was a balancing act presented on the plate and breaking through each layer to get a full bite was an experience of smooth, rich and crispy. The photo doesn’t do it justice.


They care as much about the decor as the food presentation here. You walk in and see the copper trees they use to mold their famous Yuca Tree of Life appetizer as well as inviting plants and candles leading you into the space.

The views of the Miami River and the Brickell skyline complete the El Cielo experience.

El Cielo is located at the Brickell on the River Condominium, 31 SE 5 St., Miami, (305) 755-8840




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