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Sep 18, 2007 02:59 PM

Has Prime 112 Passed it's Prime?

MB Hounds>

I'm starting to think this South Beach Hot Spot is Not-So-Hot anymore. I may not be Smarter than a 5th Grader, but my last 2 visits were more like a journey through a tourist trap than an evening to remember.

As prices escalate over $100 a person, have any locals visited Prime 112 in the past month or so and felt the downward drift? And if so, what's a better option?


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  1. I have gone relatively recently. Unfortunately with so many "trendy" places in South Florida being concentrated in South Beach, the touristy aspect is inevitable. With Prime 112 being the hottest place to go, it is inevitable that hotels will recommend guests to go there for the sights and the food. Word of mouth also has powers, as do celebrity gossip magazines.

    Having said all that, I have never found the steaks to be anything out of this world, but the apps, sides, desserts and drinks have all been up to par, in my opinion. What in your view has changed? The food? Service? People? Is it just the general vibe that has changed in your eyes? I really hope it is not going downhill, because in a city with a terrible selection of high end restaurants, that is not one we can afford to lose.

    *Note - the one concern I have is with the restaurants expansion to NYC and (i think?) Vegas. Another thing I have heard through the grapevine is that Tao is opening on Lincoln Rd. near the old theater over there.

    11 Replies
    1. re: mikek

      Is Tao opening in the cafeteria spot?

      AG - since I care much more about food. I pretty much will echo what mikek says.

      P112 transcended hotspot basically and now they just are a money making machine much in the way Tao is in NYC and Vegas (though not quite as big).

      Last year P112 grossed $19 million dollars - they are approaching Joes Stone Crab territory...

      P112's target market is older than you as well AG, they are looking mostly for the 40+ people which they succeed at admirably - though they do get others as well - you got almost two decades before you should consider it a hotspot again :).

      1. re: tpigeon

        From Stuck on the Palmetto Blog:
        If you stand on the corner of Miami Beach's Lincoln Road and Drexel Avenue and look to the southeast, you can still see the structure that housed the screen of one of the finest movie theaters in the country, the Beach Theatre. It's been decades since this movie palace ran its last feature, but now a new vibe is coming to 420 Lincoln Road in the form of the ritzy TAO Restaurant & Lounge.

        1. re: tpigeon

          Also, you mentioned prices escalating over $100 per person...have they raised their prices and i just did not realize it? I am pretty sure they have stayed at the same (albeit high) price for a while now. I will say, however, that I am 24 years old, and while they target a higher age audience, have never felt out of place there. Last year a group of 18 of us had the entire front room by the hostess stand and they catered to our slightly raucus crowd very nicely.

          1. re: mikek

            I dined at P112 over Labor Day weekend. (Ok---this was a short-sighted move for a local!) The restaurant was filled with tourists. That did not bother me at all----but the hour and a half wait DID! We had 9:15 reservations and were finally seated at 10:45. Good dinner, excellent service, but a bit frustrating. Still packing them in......

            1. re: Debbie

              Debbie, I am with you 100% they make you wait forever, regardless of how far in advance the resvervation was that you have.

        2. re: mikek

          Hey Advisor Girl,

          Yes, Prime 112 has definitely jumped the shark... Well, maybe the hype has just overpowered the food. Ive always thought that their steaks were nothing special. Ive had just as good, if not better, steaks at Smith & Wollensky, Capital Grille, and other places around town. I will say that their appetizers are top notch though. The foie gras app and the slow braised short rib app are money in the bank. The atmosphere is really cool and I like the experience of being there, but for the money, Id rather eat elsewhere. I guess its just "played out" to me. There are so many other options in Miami to dine at, that I would rather do my own thing rather than the "MTV thing" at Prime 112. Miami is a prime space for restaurants/clubs/bars that get WAAAY too overhyped and played out too quick and Id rather be somewhere where the food and service equals the cost of the experience.

          1. re: Blind Mind

            I definitely agree you pay a premium for Prime's atmosphere and surroundings. Having said that, the fish entrees are actually quite good in addition to everything else listed above. My bigger problem is not with Prime as much as it is with other options in the area. To eat at Table 8, Osteria, the Forge, and some of the other top delicious restaurants around town you will still pay a premium. The only restaurants that combine a great atmosphere and not extraordinary prices that I have found are Michael's, Michy's, Talula and a couple of others that I am forgetting. In Miami, I find you are more likely to pay that exact premium and have a sub-par meal than the other way around, which to me justifies paying that same amount for a nice dinner and great environment every now and then. I think the food, prices and service have stayed exactly the same, and the fact that it is more popular now should not impact the overall impression of the restaurant, especially if you have been there before and know what to expect going in.

            1. re: Blind Mind

              Thanks Blind>

              You are explaining it WAAAY better than I did... It's that old school MTV vibe. I would hardly suggest I go to Prime 112 to make new (older) friends, I go there for the dishes they do best. And it may be possible they are coasting through the summer by whatever means necessary - but the quality of the product on the plates has suffered.

              Many restaurants in Miami have the "Summertime Blues." I think that's why they pony up a grand to participate in the Miami Spice discount dinners. Living on Miami Beach, I am used to the idea that some places are tourist-driven and some are local favorites. The best and brightest of the touristy spots survive the doldrums of low season by romancing local diners. Makes sense. And during high season, Joe's Stone Crabs clearly has the secret tango at the door to weed tourists to the back of the line. It may not be fair, but that's the way business is done at Joe's since their Al Capone days.

              Prime may be "approaching Joe's territory" in dollars, but the 10 model/ho stesses working the door at Prime are more like runners up in a Robert Palmer video reshoot than professional dining room managers. Joe's had Roy and Dennis and Bones - crew members who make that place hum. The Prime Girls are hummers of an entirely different stripe... The ridiculous wait at the door Debbie mentions is just one measure of the BS factor. Truth is, some people are made to wait - to dress the vestibule like a sad South Beach nightclub so it feels like an honor to get past the velvet rope and empty your pockets. If you live here, you know that entire process is window dressing. Locals never wait in line.

              Prime 112 had a good run, but the trajectory - to borrow Blind Mind's reference - is way more MTV than it used to be. If the end game is to become another big door in Vegas, then their shift to what Steve Martin called "the New Cruelty" in LA Story has hit the jackpot. I can see Prime 112 in Vegas. As a top steakhouse in New York? Not so much. New Yorkers expect the sizzle AND the steak - and Prime is more about the Sizzle Factor, the Vegas smoke and mirrors, than top door steak houses in Manhattan.

              To clarify any misconception about "hotspot," we don't go to Prime to meet 40 year old Suits. I don't care about the demographics of dining - I just want to enjoy my dinner. The last two visits, the food was off - overcooked seafood, king crab legs served steamed outside and frozen in the middle, and (horrors) my favorite lobster bisque (and your's TP) room temperature and lobster free. In simple terms, the food was less good, the service was more about up-selling and turning the table, the people were all neck-craning and glad-handing... If that is "jumping the shark," then that's what it was. Early Prime was hot because the food was strong. Now it's not so hot.

              When a waiter approaches the table and his first question is, "Have you dined with us before?" I wonder what you guys think that means? I don't think Prime has such a complicated menu it requires repeat study. So I start to feel it's a tourist-versus-local approach. It says to me the rest of the evening will play out differently depending upon your reply. When the waiter asked us that again this week, I had that "Ah-Ha Moment." Yes, I have dined with them before and I used to like it better...

              Clearly, it's not all bad, but with recent gaffes I feel they are losing ground. So if you have suggestions for less fluff and more good stuff, I'm interested.


              1. re: advisor_Girl

                very sad to hear about the bisque. Hope it was a bad night. Never actually tried the king crab legs and probably will not opt to now...

                1. re: advisor_Girl

                  Those are absolutely legitimate gripes with the restaurant, especially for the prices they charge, and hopefully not an indicator of the restaurant being passed its peak. Those issues I would not necessarily peg on the touristy nature, as it has always been that way. Nonetheless, I hope your meal was an isolated incident because, as I said, the Miami dining scene cannot afford another good restaurant going down the tubes.

                  1. re: advisor_Girl

                    The "MTV vibe" also points to the fact that many people, tourists especially, go there because, "Last time I was there I saw (Insert celebrity here)..." I used to like Prime 112 a lot, but now I hear the Righteous Brothers singing "Youve Lost That Lovin Feeling" everytime I walk in. Im kinda all about trying new places too, so personally I would rather dine elsewhere. It just doesnt have that "must go" feeling, especially when you factor in the quality of steak (slightly above average at best) and the cost of dining (semi-astronomical). Other than those 2 apps I mentioned above, there is nothing on the menu that makes me say "Damn, Im really feenin for Prime 112" like I do with other places. For the record, those other places are the Mussel Pots at Le Bon (probably doing that tonite), anything at Ice Box (they change the menu daily except a few items like Curry Chicken which is bomb diggity and their desserts are "Best in the Country" according to Oprah haha), the Escargot and Margret De Canard at French Kiss in the Grove, the Hotate Yaki and Usuzukuri at Matsuri, the Tom Kha Gai at Indochine, and the Cambodian Style Scallop Amok and Scallop/Cuke sushi roll at Origin Bistro in South Miami. Might even have to add the Dry Marinated Skirt Steak w/ Caramelized Onions, Gorgonzola & Sliced Avocado Salad at Whisk Gourmet Food & Catering in the Gables to that list to as Im craving that right now as well. There's some suggestions for ya AG even though you may have to venture off of "Fantasy Island" to get to some of those places... ;)

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