Two Chefs coming to North Miami?
I see a new sign reading "Two Chefs Too" going up at the old Blue Oyster Grille location.
Two Chefs has a great rep and will be a welcome addition to the North Miami dining scene.
It is located on 123 Street at the entrance to the Broad Causeway.
I peaked in and it looks like it was being very tastefully designed. Dine Magazine did a little article on them last month which said it was being decorated by Leticia Jorgensen, the chef's wife and prices will range from $6 to $14 for starters and $16 to $28 for main courses. In addition to house-made ice creams there will be up to 12 soufflé choices, including Grand Marnier, huckleberry, amaretto, bittersweet chocolate and savory options. I'm salivating already. And it has one of the largest spirits collections in the United States. It's a great location with free parking.
We did indeed try out Two Chefs Too tonight. It's in the space on 123rd Street just west of the Broad Causeway over to Bal Harbour - the old and original Mark's Place spot, for old farts like me. Walking in was like a time warp, as very little seems to have changed. There's a bar to the left as you walk in, open dining room to the right, semi-open kitchen on the far side of the room, simple tan and black marble w/ the same colors on the tables & chairs. The place was about 1/3 full when we got there and remained so for the time we were there - there's probably about 25 tables total.
We started w/ a dish of escargot in puff pastry and a caesar salad. The escargot dish was excellent, a ragout of snails, duck ham, and julienned sun-dried tomato in a rich bordelaise-type red wine reduction, served in a little round of puff pastry. The caesar was not quite as successful - not much oomph to the dressing, generous but somewhat flavorless shavings of parmesan, and the accompanying mandelbread croutons made no sense at all (and were as dry and tasteless as her grandmother's, according to Mrs. F).
For mains I went with coq au vin, while Mrs. F tried a turkey steak (an unusual choice, but she had recollections of a great turkey chop which Gourmet Diner used to do ages ago). The coq au vin was decent but not exceptional. I know from experience that it can be tough to get really good texture when braising a chicken, and this one confirmed rather than refuted my own personal experience. Black truffled mashed potatoes in a side dish were very tasty though the texture was a slight bit watery. The turkey steak (w/ a couple of shrimp accompanying) was OK but more than a little reminiscent of a catered event's rubber chicken (Mrs. F said it tasted like bar mitzvah food).
The underwhelming mains were made up for in part by an outstanding chocolate souffle to finish, served with creme anglaise, hot chocolate sauce, and a scoop of chocolate ice cream to boot. A really excellent souffle - probably one of the best I've had locally other than the great one they used to do at Talula. Too often lately what's been advertised as chocolate souffle has turned out ot be more like a molten chocolate cake - this one had proper souffle texture while still having just a hint of rich ooze to it.
Service generally was pretty good, particularly for a place that's only been open a week. Water was poured immediately after we sat down, our order was taken in an appropriate time, dishes came out timely. Again, given that they just opened, they seemed to have everything together.
One surprising disappointment was the wine list. Though they make a point of pitching the fact that they're a "no-headache choice" with free parking (very fair digs at South Beach), you'd have no idea you weren't on South Beach if you just looked at the prices on the wine list. Quite simply, the markups were ridiculous for a place that's not in a high-rent district. I wasn't particularly paying attention to the whites, but for the reds there were very limited choices under $70 (!!), and most everything was highly marked up. By way of example, a Seghesio Old Vine Zin, a wine that retails for $25, was well over $70. I think I found just about the only appropriately priced bottle on the list, a Lesec "Marquis" Chateauneuf du Pape for $59 (right on target for a bottle that probably retails around $30).
The escargot dish and the souffle were good enough that I'm likely to give Two Chefs Too at least one more shot, but I'm not quite ready to rave about it yet.
Well at least the wine didn't taste like Manischewitz.....
We almost crossed paths last night but I wanted to catch the game and didn't want to rush through dinner. May try tonight if they are open. Is the menu on the website the same? Disappointed to hear about the wine list. Did they have a decent "by the glass" selection?
First off I would like to identify myself as Two Chefs Too front manager. I'm not sure about the rules of me posting replys here but here goes. Thank you for coming by the restaurant we have'nt really done any advertising yet as we are working out the kinks. We appreciate any comments on the food and service. although I have to argue the point about the winelist being too expensive. our wine list has bottles from as low as $25. 28 bottles of red from between 30 to 75 dollars.
We are still a small restaurant and dont have the buying power of total wines or other super stores. Thanks again for your patronage and review.
2C2 - First and foremost, bless you for paying attention to boards such as these. I have tremendous respect for restaurauteurs that really care about their customers and as far as I'm concerned this is a sure sign of it.
The Chowhound policy on owner/insider comments is here ->
As I read it, it doesn't prohibit a restaurant insider from providing factual information about the restaurant, and that's exactly how I read your post. For better or worse, the board moderators can sometimes be a bit overzealous in their enforcement.
I was perhaps a bit hasty in my judgment of the wine list, but I don't think it was by all that much. The list on the website - http://www.twochefsrestaurant.com - is not identical to the one at the restaurant, but looks pretty close (including not listing vintages, a pet peeve of mine). Out of 75 reds, I see only one that's under $40, and only 18 (less than 25%) under $50. I'm still trying to pinpoint the day that $50 became my personal price point for a "reasonable" bottle of wine, but I will fight for a while before I bump it up further to $75.
Of those under $50 wines, a good number of them - more than half, by my rough estimate - are marked up more than 3x average retail prices, some much more. A few easily confirmed examples - the Cartlidge & Brown Cab is a wine that typically retails for $10 - it's listed for $46. Liberty School is another $10-12 cab, that's listed for $47. The Roogle Red Shiraz is another $10 wine selling for $42. In fairness, the markups seem to vary pretty widely and there are some very fairly priced wines including the CDP I had on our first visit.
I fully understand that a small restaurant doesn't have the same kind of purchasing power of Total, etc. But the difference between Total's prices and another mom & pop retailer with a comparable lack of purchasing power on these types of wines is maybe $2-3. Even if the restaurant's buying power is so weak that they're paying equivalent to retail prices, these are still 400%+ (!) markups.
If I'm not in South Beach or Coral Gables, I do have an expectation of finding more "value" wine options - both more wines at a lower price point (mine is $50, I suspect for many folks it's even lower), and better values at those price points.
I wish you the best of luck and hope the restaurant is a great success - and thanks so much for paying attention to us 'hounds!
I went last night for New Years Eve. I live across the street and some neighbors and I wanted something convenient. We were all happy we tried it and will be back again. For the group of four, we had the tuna tartar app, a seafood chowder, a cheese plate, baked chicken, a steak and salmon. We all shared a chocolate souffle for desert. The apps were all pretty good. When the tartar came, I didn't think I would like it. It is a scoop of tartar on crispy potato chips, each chip with it's own scoop. It was actually pretty good and they use a truffle sauce to add to the flavor. It reminded me how much I like truffles with raw tuna and was surprised that the chip remained crispy. The cheese selection was all domestic, but covered all the basics. We chose two, a goat's milk and a cow's milk. You get a "side" with each cheese. We chose spicy olives and crispy potato chips. The olives were VERY spicy and the cheese should have been served at room temp, but they had a good selection and it was nicely presented. The person who had the chowder liked it although I did not try it. I tried at least a bite of all of our mains. The chicken was juicy and flavorful, although I'm not sure why they only cooked 1/2 a breast. The salmon was fairly bland (atlantic farm raised) and the steak was a little above average. The mains were served with pretty tasty sides and sauces and overall, everyone was happy. The souffle was really good and we can't wait to try some of the more exotic flavors. We paid around $50/pp including drinks (nothing on the menu was more than $30 and the drinks were $9). Although I can't say that it is the best place I've been to in Miami, it is certainly a welcome additon to the neigborhood and I will go back even if it's only for a cheese plate, a cocktail and souffle. They are going to open for lunch soon and will give that a try.