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Any Opinions on Normans/Miami?

Anyone have any opinions if Normans is really worth the hype I've come across? I took a look at their website and the menu sure does look appealing to me. I'm only going to be in the area a few days next week and thinking about going "if" I can even get in.

Thanks.

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  1. Norman's was/is a Miami institution as chef Norman Van Aken was one of the "founding members" of the Mango Gang that put South Florida on the culinary map with high end technique combined with Latin American influence and ingredients. Ten years ago , maybe even five, it was undoubtedly a consensus pick for top 5 if not the top local restaurant, though a minority have always claimed it was overhyped.

    In more recent years I think the place has suffered from a bit of neglect from Mr. Van Aken and doesn't get a ton of his personal attention. Having said that, I still think it's a quite fine restaurant and if you've never been is probably worth going. My last time there was about a year ago and we had an excellent meal.

    I would highly recommend the conch chowder, as well as the foie gras appetizer. The yellowtail over mashed potatoes is a classic although I don't think it's a very exciting dish. I've found the roasted pork dish disappointing. One of my most memorable meals ever was a fantastic "cowboy style" rib steak he did at an earlier Miami restaurant he had (the long gone "A Mano" (?) on South Beach) and if there is something similar on the menu it's probably pretty good.

    You should have no trouble making a reservation.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Frodnesor

      well said Frod...

      I concur completely.

      The Yellowtail, which I absolutely love, was very inovative 10-15 years ago...now I'm not so sure? It still reigns as one of the best dishes in Dade county IMHO, but the luster is lacking a bit over at Normans lately. The buzz it once enjoyed is all but gone.

      When his store in Hollywood, CA went under there was lots of speculation as to why on the CHowhound LA board which ranged from the "name" to the inability to get East Coast ingrediants out on the West Coast. I later heard the developer who put them out there sold the property. Whether that's true, or your thoughts regarding "neglect" remain a mystery to me. Nevertheless you are right, the place suffers from a serious lack of recent innovation and positive public relations.

      Would I go were I the OP? ...in a NY minute! He's still arguably one of the best chefs in Miami.

    2. Both of your opinions are enough for me to consider going - hope we'll have the time since we now only have 1 free night open :-)

      1. Thanks so much for the long replies! We went last night and were blown away by our meals. I'll be posting a review upon my arrival back home. Suffice it to say, that I do not understand how this restaurant isn't drawing in more people either. It was practically dead (although it was a Monday, so it's hard to judge by that). There was not a single mis-step during the meal, service was perfect, suggestions for wine were spot on, and the food was innovative and presented beautifully. Moreso, as far as this type of experience goes, it didn't exactly break the bank either, our meal with tip and tax came in just under $160, for 2 appetizers, 2 entrees, a cheese plate, 2 glasses of wine. Considering our meal at Emeril's the night before was well over $200 (not that I'm complaining because we completely enjoyed our experience there too), we felt like this was a bargain in comparison.

        Anyway, look for my complete review in a few days :-) Thanks again for giving me the push to give it a go, we're very pleased we did.

        P.S. - I had the conch chowder - it was a revelation! It was like eating the ocean - when it used to be clean and pristine :-)

        1 Reply
        1. re: sivyaleah

          Nice to hear you had such a good experience. Even nicer to hear it was fairly priced. I should probably pay them another visit.

        2. i've never had a bad meal there... i love the roasted pork dish. The yuca stuffed shrimp appetizer is one of his signature dishes and is great. The down island french toast foie gras appetizer is also great. I've loved all of his wood roasted entrees that i have tried.

          1 Reply
          1. re: sprmario

            Great comments and reviews. Glad to hear you enjoyed it. I too have always enjoyed my visits there -- great food, service, etc. Eric

          2. Love it love it love it! Definitely one of the best restaurants in SoFla. and my favorite. Quality service, menu, low key/nice environment, etc. Great/original Floribbean cuisine so really a "local" experience that you won't find in other cities. Try going for lunch, early (before 7pm) or eat at the bar. It is worth it.

            Also good inthe Gables if you can't get into Normans is Ortanique. A bit less expensive, but also great Floribbean food.

            1 Reply
            1. re: gal4funnsun

              I went already - see my review of 4/9. Thanks!

            2. So glad you had a good experience.