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May 22, 2007 01:05 PM

Miami Spice 2007

Yes, it's ridiculously early to start thinking about this, but I figured I'd create a post for the occassion. Here's a link to the list so far. Evolution and Table 8 are surprising participants. Noticeably missing is Michy's.

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  1. The menus are starting to show up for different restaurants and from a random sampling it looks like this year's offerings are a heck of a lot better.

    1 Reply
    1. re: lax2mia

      Not sure what has been everybody elses experience, but i've been pretty disappointed with miami spice over the past couple of years. While its a great chance to feel the "ambiance" of a restaurant, I don't really think the food they serve is representative of the establishment.

      Its just that I think the $35 dinner menu forces good restaurants to serve entrees like "churrasco" or "salmon", etc. that don't require much thought/cost.

      With that said, a couple restaurants did try impress. For instance, we had an incredible meal at Cacao. We went back a couple months later, and ordered the real deal, and it proved to be even better. In fact, I now put Cacao up there in the top 10 restaurants in Miami ;)

      However, I kinda feel that was an exception and am wary of seeing the miami spice deal as a test run. But If they perform REALLY well with the limited options (and also try to give REALLY good service), then maybe they are worth spending $200 at later on.

      Anybody else got any thoughts on miami spice and how to get the most utility out of the deals?

    2. i agree with lost hiway.Miami Spice has degenerated into restaurants just trying to fob off churrasco,chilean salmon,and half roasted chicken because they cant charge their regular prices for their regular menu items.this year there will be a 10-20% increase probably for the same 3 items.I would make it mandatory for a restaurant who wants to participate that they must provide their regular menu and then let the customer choose and get a certain percentage off regular menu items so they could accurately judge what htat restaurant is like.This may mean that lunch would be $30,and dinner $45 instead of $22 and $35,but at least you woulod get to sample their regular menu.My kudos to several of the restaurants who do this,noticeably smith and willensky.I used to try a dozen new restaurants a year in the beginning of the program but now i go online to see what restaurants are offering before i bother.Only tried 1 restaurant last year.Maybe they should put the program out of its misery if restaurants are only going through the motions of churrasco,salmon,and chicken.

      7 Replies
      1. re: travlnmike

        There are great deals/meals out there. You just need to do your homework and review the menus. On my initial glance, Talula, Touch and Tuscan Steak have solid menus. The Restaurant at the Setai offers real value, Social has a large selection of its dishes on the menu and offers value. Cacao and Chef Allen's menus are also strong. Most places don't have their menu up. I'll post back if I find any winners.

        1. re: Sobe

          Lots of good restaurants participating and lots of decent looking menus. Of course they're going to be putting lower cost food items on these menus (note that short ribs would appear to be a common theme this year), but its silly to think you're going to be getting foie gras and kobe beef with a $35 3-course dinner. Consider it an opportunity to see what some of these places can do with some of the simpler, lower-budget ingredients. I don't know of any city that doesn't do this type of thing without a set-menu format.

          Some places fairly obviously just use this as a device to get people in the door and then upsell them; others actually make an effort to really put something folks will enjoy on the Spice menu. It's generally foolish not to. The purpose ought to be to create a repeate customer, which you're not going to do if you just give them a rubber chicken.

          1. re: Sobe

            Vix's menu is posted and looks worthy

          2. re: travlnmike

            I think you're being a bit harsh. It would be totally unfair to demand that places offer items directly off of their menu at the Miami Spice price. You can't take dishes with the ingredients used at say Evolution and expect them to offer dishes at the same price as say Novecento. While it's more appreciated when a place does so, I wouldn't expect nor pass judgement if they didn't. And another thing to look out for is places that change their Spice menus periodically. I know last year Talula would change at least weekly which to me shows (1) they're paying attention to the menu and not considering it an afterthought and (2) they're trying to show patrons what they're cable of by providing a variety of dishes throughout the length of the program and (3) they're trying to get repeat business from Miami Spice customers probably in hopes that they'll return during the rest of the year.

            That being said, from my perusal, the menus just sound better this year. The Setai one in particular, considering the normal cost of dining there, seems like a bargain. Agree with Sobe that Talula's looks good and Social is offering three dishes for the $35. With two people that'd be 6 plates, more than worth it.

            As for holding S&W as an example of a responsible participant, they're only offering lunch and one of the items is a hamburger which to me puts it in the same realm as other places for offering churrasco, salmon, or chicken. But then again, I have a feeling it's a really good burger!

            1. re: lax2mia

              China Grill is always a nice deal to get the calamari salad, skirt steak & a dessert.
              Evolution menu just doesn't interest me, too bad.
              Setai is intriguing and this is a place I've generally avoided b/c it's so expensive.
              Social's idea to do any 3 dishes w/ several choices is clever.
              Talula, Cacao also look good.

              1. re: lax2mia

                one way expensive restaurants could meet their budget restraints of the miami spice program is to give half portions of their regular menu items and then miami spice program customers would be tasting exactly what the regular customers of that restaurant receive,albeit a smaller portion.Havent seen the list of menus that this year's participants are doing,but in the past s and w did offer its filet mignon and its crispy pork available from its regular menu for miami spice customers.Are they not doing it this year?

                1. re: travlnmike

                  Who wants to go out and eat half a dinner?
                  Many of the menus are already posted if you follow the link in the OP.

              1. re: Munchkin

                Cafe Maxx and 3030 Ocean are must do's

                1. re: Sobe

                  seems like calamari and octopus are 2007's version of a budget item that salmon,chicken,and churrasco were in previous years from a cursory review of those restaurants who posted their menus already.

                  1. re: travlnmike


                    If you have participated in the Miami Spice program in the past, do you ever feel the restaurant staff "chill" when you ask for the Spice Menu? I know there is an attitude shift when a table arrives with EXPENSE ACCOUNT written all over them and likewise a group of women often get a colder shoulder...

                    I have found some restaurants that decided to be part of Spice have failed to impart the spirit of the event to their service people and patrons end up being treated like they came in with one of those dining discount coupon books in hand.

                    In my experience, Spice works best at lunch where a $20+ per person three course menu is viewed with far less contempt than a group at dinnertime filling a table but eating on the cheap.

                    River Oyster Bar actually offers a Miami Spice type menu at lunch with 3 courses for around $20 every day - 2 starters, 2 mains, 2 desserts. We are regulars at the Bar mostly at lunchtime and the 3 course feature is very popular.

                    I just wondered what level of service the hounds have experienced during Miami Spice?


                    1. re: advisor_Girl

                      My experience with service runs the gamut and I have to say one of the best experiences we had was at Blue Door. When we asked the waiter for the Spice menu he left and came back apologizing that the offer was only good until 9:00 (our reservation was at 9:30). I didn't say a word and just gave him the "you gotta be kidding me, please don't make me say what I'm thinking look". He said he'd be right back and sure enough he popped up with the Spice menu. Not only that, he was one of the most attentive and personable waiters we've had in Miami period. At the other end of the spectrum, Talula had awful service, but I believe it was a matter of the waitress involved and not the Spice menu per se. In fact, she was probably assisted by the limited menu because she was so scatterbrained that remembering our orders out of the regular menu would have been too much for her.

                      For the most part I haven't really gotten cold shoulders from staff, especially at places that are really slow. You can tell off the bat when you arrive how seriously the place takes the Spice promotion when they either include it in the main menu or hand you the separate menu without asking. Once you start asking then things get tricky. I usually peruse the regular menu then ask for the Spice menu which can either mean to the waiter that he's going to get a good cover or can backfire and reduce the waiter's hopes when you ask for the Spice menu. Regardless, and always depending on the level of service, I tip around the amount I would have left had I had a regular meal there.

                      1. re: lax2mia

                        I have to agree with you on blue door service - the waiters there are awesome.

                        To Sobe the poster...normally I would not go to Vix but I think the spice menu is going to get me there. Thanks for the heads up.

                        1. re: tpigeon

                          Some new menus are posted.
                          La Goulue could be worth a try based on the menu and normal prices. Has anyone been there recently?

                          1. re: Sobe

                            Went a while back. Was rather expensive, however, much of their regular menu is on the spice menu and may be worth it.

                            1. re: Sobe

                              It's been a couple months. Our first visit (shotly after they opened) was very good. A couple visits since then were less so. Menu had been dumbed down, food only OK.

                        2. re: advisor_Girl

                          I did the ROB for Spice last eyar and the dinner was money in the bank. That place has great food, a great bar, and nice atmosphere. I agree that a lot of servers give "the look" when you ask for the Spice menu, but at the same time, most servers in Miami have shitty attitudes so taht is to be expected. In my case, I like Spice to try new places and then I can spend more on booze and wine :)

                          1. re: Blind Mind

                            What we'll often do when Mrs. F and I go out is that one will do the Spice menu and the other orders off the regular menu (not big on dessert and splitting one is enough). Plus a good bottle of wine and the servers aren't suffering - though if a Spice menu is a significant discount from regular restaurant prices, we always make sure to tip generously - just because the restaurant owners have agreed to discount doesn't mean the waitstaff should take a hit.

                  2. Between Timo, Il Mulino and Bice (all in Sunny Isles), which one would you select?

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: jkatz23

                      I'll confess this is an unfair judgment since I've never tried Il Mulino and have not tried the Bice in Sunny Isles (but have been to other locations), but I think Timo is outstanding - one of my favorite restaurants in town.

                      1. re: Frodnesor

                        The IlMulino Spice menu is weak. I like Timo in general, spice menu looks okay

                        1. re: Sobe

                          But what do you think about Timo's choices in the spice menu? There are no pasta dishes listed while Il Mulino has, even though simple pasta dishes, three options.

                          Do you go to Timo because or their pasta dishes or you prefer the other items in the menu?

                          I heard that Il Mulino is very good, that the place is beautiful but might not be worth the price tag, so I thought this was a nice opportunity to try it. Have you heard any reviews?

                          1. re: jkatz23

                            I just don't think Il Mulino's spice menu represents any value. Rigatoni and fried calamari on a normal night will probably cost you less. Well, probably not at Il Mulino but you get the point. I could be way off though. Go and report back.

                            1. re: jkatz23

                              Pasta is a great way for a restaurant to keep food cost down for a Miami Spice menu. Il Mulino's is particularly obvious - rigatoni w/ tomato sauce? gnocchi w/ pesto? along with the fried calamari and tricolore salad, those probably cost about $2.50 to put on the plate.

                              I usually don't have the pastas at Timo, though I enjoyed the pappardelle w/ chicken livers once. I could probably have a very happy meal from the goat cheese pizette, pork loin, and peach/almond calzone on their Miami Spice menu. Since the pastas are cheaper anyway (usually around $20) you could probably come close to putting together a pasta meal for around $35 even without the Miami Spice discount.

                              We had drinks at Acqualina (before dinner at Timo) this past weekend and I took a peek at the Il Mulino menu. It struck me as a completely generic and uninspired Italian restaurant. Obviously I can't knock it if I haven't tried it, but I really wonder what all the fuss is about.

                        1. re: Sobe

                          It's straight from the regular menu. So far the winner in my opinion is the Setai's.