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Chef Allen Still Delivers the Best
The Miami Herald  by Kendall Hamersly
So you're Allen Susser, a k a Chef Allen, and there was a time when you were one of the few big dogs in a fledgling restaurant town. Those days are done. So what do you do? Same as always: Give the loyal clientele superlative quality, every time.

Susser and executive chef Craig Berkower understand their Aventura market and restrain any impulse to go wild. Take the trendy foam that's color commentary for a diver-scallop starter and an excellent lobster paella: It's not olive or raspberry but mild English pea.
A lush Thai tuna tartare of sushi-grade yellowfin is topped with pummelo (think grapefruit), avocado with mango and dressed with a coconut-lime-ginger vinaigrette.

Sauté of wild mushrooms (mostly chanterelles, honshimejis and shiitakes) with olive, apple vinegar and tomato concasse is pure earthiness over wild greens with red and yellow tomato quarters.

That beautiful tuna returns in a center-cut "filet mignon" seared with tangerine zest, cumin and fennel. It goes over mashed boniato and a carrot-ginger nage. Green papaya slaw adds crunch.

A roasted half duckling picks up spiciness from a chipotle-honey glaze. Go-along is sweet potato hash; duck jus is augmented with dried-fruit-infused port.

The paella utilizes arborio rather than Valencia rice for a creamier texture. You get half a Maine lobster, rock shrimp, calamari and outstanding mussels that suffuse the rice with their sofrito-flavored liquor.

Double mousse - one espresso, one Vahlrona milk chocolate - is creamy and mild, layered in a coffee glass, nutmeg-scented cream and a chocolate sugar cookie on top.

Place: Chef Allen's.

Address: 19088 NE 29th Ave., Aventura.

Rating: Exceptional.

Contact: 305-935-2900,

Hours: 6-10:30 p.m. Sunday-Thursday, till 11 p.m. Friday-Saturday.

Prices: starters $10-$18, entrees $27-$40, desserts $8-$11, tasting menu $65.

FYI: Full bar. Reservations requested. Credit cards: AX, DN, MC, VS.

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