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Nov 7, 2007 04:33 PM

New Restaurant South Miami

There is a new restaurant on Sunset Drive and I was wondering if anyone has been yet. I am worried about what South Miami is going to turn into. There is a brand new parking garage that was built and supposedly there are going 4 national chain restaurants. Is there anywhere left in Miami, where most of the food choices are mom and pop not corporate?

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  1. I think youre talking about Alta Cocina... I walked by and the place looked really nice. I checked out the menu online and it looked OK. Im planning on eating there soon. Other new places in that area are popping up that arent chains, but they all seem to be Latin-focused and I feel we've got enough of that here already. My favorite place in that area is Origin Bistro. Its sandwiched between Sunset and US1, right next to BT's Gentlemens Club haha. I really think that area has done a lot for itself and it seems to be on the up and up. Now only if the Grove could do something, anything, to improve itself... :(

    7 Replies
    1. re: Blind Mind

      Blind Mind, I see that you say your favorite South Miami restaurant is Origin Bistro. I have unsuccessfully been trying to find out more about the place as they are opening up a second location about a block away from me in Key Biscayne. Just would like to know what to expect. Any feedback would be appreciated.

      1. re: nikklos

        Man, I love that place. I think what I like about it best is that they have a wide variety of ways to please a palette. You can do sushi, you can do thai, you can do pastas, you can do main courses, etc. Normally I dont like a big menu, but they seem to keep it simple. The sushi Ive had there has been superb. I really liked a lobster tempura roll that came with a yellow pepper sauce (I think thats what it was, its been awhile...) but my favorite was a scallop and cucumber roll, basically because I LOVE scallops. I also had a killer thai scallop dish there but I forget the name of it. It comes wrapped in a banana leaf (the leaf is actually the bowl from what I remember) and has scallops with lemongrass and coconut milk broth, kinda like Tom Kha Gai which is another favorite of mine (try it at Indochine in downtown or World Resource Cafe on Lincoln Rd). Prices are middle of the road and I think the quality of food definitely makes it worth it.

        Hope that helps. Best bet would be to make the 20 minute drive and give it a shot. Hell, Im in South Miami running errands tonite and I may even stop by now!

        1. re: Blind Mind

          Thanks Blind Mind. This is great info. I cannot wait to try it based on your response.

          1. re: Blind Mind

            Ok, so I stopped by Origin last night for dinner just like I said. It was incredibly good and I was reminded that I need to go back more often. Being that I was in Loserville, aka "dining alone" haha, I decided to sit inside rather than take up an outside table. It was kind of a bummer because one of my favorite things about eating outside there is that you get to see all the guys coming and going from "Booby Trap" next door...sinners haha. The inside is really nice and I think they repainted because I thought the paint used to be purple and its now a nice sage green. I could be mistaken though. The green really has a calming effect, especially when paired with the chocolate brown wooden tables and chairs, and that sets up for a nice relaxing Asian-inspired meal. There was one decoration that really stood out as an eyesore though. They have a staircase that leads upstairs to where the bathrooms are located and it is lined with 3 HUGE Alex Rodriguez autographed jerseys, one for each team he has financially sunk into the ground with his ridiculous contract before choking in the playoffs. I was thinking that either the owner is a huge fan or somehow A-Rod is involved with the restaurant, which would explain the eyesore jerseys since he has a huge ego to feed. Sure enough, 2 minutes later A-Rod comes walking down the stairs to have dinner with his wife who was surprisingly not that attractive at all. Now I understand the rumors that he cheated on her haha.

            OK, back to the food... For an appetizer I ordered my favorite item - Cambodian Style Scallop Amok. The dish is comprised of tender scallops, egg, napa cabbage, lemongrass, thai basil, kaffir lime leaves, and a little coconut, which are all steamed in a banana leaf which makes for a beautiful presentation. This time it was a little less brothy than usual but delicious nonetheless. From there I wanted to go with the Scallop Cucumber Roll (scallops, cucumber, masago, mayo) and the Hamachita Roll (hamachi, jalapenos, tempura flakes, masago, mayo) but my waiter reminded me that their rolls are quite big (8 pieces in each roll!!) and that 2 of them would probably be too much. So, I audibled to an interesting item that I saw on the menu called Tuna Spaghetti Sashimi. Man, what a call! The dish had tuna sashimi cut into long, thin strips and topped with sprouts. It laid on top of sliced Asian pear that was laid out in a criss crossing pattern with hiyashi wakame on top of it. So we had pear on teh ground level, then hiyashi wakame, then the tuna, then sprouts for garnish. The whole "tower" was drizzled with spicy yuzu, sesame, and soy sauce. What a great dish! I was really surprised how well the Asian pear worked with the dish. It was perfect because it wasnt too sweet and didnt overpower anything else on the dish. The spicy yuzu gave a nice kick as well. The scallop cucumber roll was also very tasty, but I was a bit put off that the sushi chef had included some cream cheese as well. I like it better without and I didnt expect that ingredient since it wasnt listed on the menu.

            Overall it was another great trip to this South Miami restaurant and I can understand why they would consider opening another one in Key Biscayne. My bill came to $31 and I added $6 for tip. Not bad for 2 high quality apps, a huge sushi roll, and a beer. I definitely recommend that any Asian food fans check this place out. On my way out, I looked at A-Rod and he gave me one of those, "Yeah, I know you know who I am, please dont bother me" head nods. I can respect that, so I simply said, "Go Sox" as I walked past and he gave me the "Thats funny...asshole" smile haha.


            PS - is the "Link to a place" thing no longer working? Ive tried it a few times in recent posts and nothing comes up for every place Ive entered. Also, "Florida" is not an option under "Please select a CHOW region"... What gives?

            1. re: Blind Mind

              Incredible story Blind Mind. You have really come through big time. Although I am a diehard Yankee fan, I almost was happy to see ARod go when it looked like he was going. From my previous posted requests, I began to think no one ever heard of Origin or been there. And I certainly learned that people don't care much about Key Biscayne cuisine! I hope they have all these items at the new outpost. It will certainly give Sushi Siam, our only option as of now, a run for its money - although it appears to be a somewhat different Asian cuisine and I admit I like the Key Biscayne version of Sushi Siam very much. Thanks again.

              1. re: nikklos

                Im telling you man, make the 10-15 minute drive and check it out yourself. The food is phenomenal. But, even you will have to agree that the Arod framed jerseys are way out of place!

                1. re: Blind Mind

                  Ok I'm going to check it out this weekend. You convinced me. I am a big fan of Vietnamese food and there seems to be that kind of emphasis at Origin. Blind Mind, you're going to laugh, but I read through some of your posts after you responded and I said to myself "Good job buddy!" This is your General Counsel buddy on Key Biscayne. I'll invite you, Ryan and Can to the island when they open the Origin on the Key!

      2. I read an article about that restaurant, Alta Cocina, in some kind of South Miami newsletter. I believe the owners are a husband-wife team who graduated from Johnson & Wales and worked at Michy's before opening the restaurant. Sounds promising, but every other restaurant in that spot has not lasted very long. Hopefully they won't fall to the same fate as their predecessors.

        1 Reply
        1. re: jessicam29

          Ive walked by there a few times and have never seen anyone eating there... One time was early after they opened and another was during the South Miami Art Festival a few wknds ago, so hopefully theyve had a chance to pack em in by now.

        2. They seem to be a dying breed everywhere. South Miami still has some options- Blu, Deli Lane, Origin, Alta Cocina, Cafe Pastis, and there is reportedly an Irish Pub type place going in on Sunset- although the last several people that opened there didn't make it too long. One thing they don't need in South Miami is any more sushi places.

          11 Replies
          1. re: Rachal961

            Well its funny that you say south miami does not need any more sushi places, because the rumor is that the space next door to the beverly hills cafe is going to be a sushi siam!

            1. re: Gablescooks

              I guess I didn't go by for a long time, but are you talking of the spot that used to be a sushi place before it became a Peruvian chicken place (operated by Thai)?

              1. re: tarepanda

                Yes, that place used to be a sushi place. I cant remember the name for some reason, but I used to go there every Tuesday night because they had FREE BEER. The owner was a really nice guy too but apparently the business didnt make it or he sold it for a profit or something.

                1. re: Blind Mind

                  The third eatery going into the new parking garage bulding -- with Outback and Carrabba's -- is a sushi place (name escapes me at the moment).

                  1. re: Blind Mind

                    I remembered the name of this joint yesterday as I drove by after getting a haircut... Wasabi Sushi Bar.

                    1. re: Blind Mind

                      Not that anyone here is going to circle their calendars for this, but the Outback opened on Monday. The place where Carrabba's is supposed to go remains completely barren, so I don't see that opening up for several more months. I didn't see the sushi place.

                      1. re: Gabled

                        Thanks for getting this post to the top again because I actually ate at Alta Cocina about a week or so ago... The food was very, very good. We had a starter of cod fritters that were tasty but I kinda wished that the outsides were a little more crispy rather than what I call "croggy" which is a cross between crispy and soggy in case you havent figured that out yet. The tamarind sauce went nicely with the dish. I had downed a huge lunch earlier that day, so I was looking to keep it light with my appetizer and meal. I ordered the steamed mussels and found them to be really tasty. The white wine cilantro broth was a nice compliment to the mussels which were a decent size and plentiful. For my main course, I ordered the Thai Sea Bass. The sea bass is accompanied by a Thai Coconut Broth with Fried Bok Choy tossed in Light Soy. This dish was awesome. The fish was cooked perfectly and melted in my mouth like butter. The bok choy was also extremely tasty in the broth and Im a huge bok choy fan so this was a perfect dish for me, especially since I didnt need to be deflated after the meal. One knock I would have to apply is that our bread and apps came out in a timely fashion and I was thinking to myself, "Man, this is perfect because I HATE when your main comes out right after the apps and you have to scarf down the app to get to the main while its still warm." I went from being pleased about the space between app and main to displeased when the main didnt come out for at least 30-45 minutes after the appetizers. That sucked but I was back in a good mood when, without hearing any complaints from my table, our waitress emerged and apologized for the lengthy wait between plates.

                        Overall, I found the food to be very tasty and Id go back again, if only to have that seabass dish (I was told it was a special at one point but so many loved it that they added it to the menu). Did it blow me away? Not really. However, it did satisfy and the room was packed which means that others have enjoyed meals there too. The decor is nice, nothing to write home about, but nice. The decor that stands out the most is the interesting wine rack behind the bar and the table settings. I recommend giving it a try if you live in the area.

                        One final remark... After I finished writing about my experience, I googled the name of the restaurant and found the New Times review. The review is very negative and I believe everyone is entitled to their opinion. However, when someone complains about a lack of "A1" or Worcestershire for a steak at a nice restaurant, they lose all credit as a reviewer of food.

                        1. re: Blind Mind

                          Nice to hear they may be hitting their stride after the terrible review in the New Times which I posted at the time seemed a little unfair.


                          Did you notice if the Rabo was still on the menu by any chance?

                          1. re: eatnbmerry

                            No, I didnt notice it. The New Times review is crap and Im basing that 100% on the "A1" comment and the fact that the reviewer seems to be negative in a lot of reviews (i.e. goes to the restaurant looking for something negative). I didnt see Rabo on the menu, but you could check their online menu at

                            1. re: Blind Mind

                              Yeah when I saw it I posted abouth the A1 as well. And yes the rabo is still on!

                              Fusion Del Rabo:
                              Home made Gnocchi, Gorgonzola Sauce, Braised Oxtail pulled from the bone

                              Thanks again for the report BM will have to tr soon hopefully.

                        2. re: Gabled

                          Thanks god. I had a HORRIBLE experience at Carrabba's in Houston. I much rather see another Anacapri than a Carrabba's or Olive Garden. Or something even better.

                1. re: Frodnesor

                  Better than Klein's, but still lukewarm don't you think?

                  Sounds like they are still having problems with the front-end. That's why it usually takes "two to tango". The creative force and the business savy. Qualities that are not that easily combined from my experience.

                  In any case, I hope the rabo I want to try doesn't fall under her "off-putting gelatinous texture and slightly gamey taste" of the short ribs.

                  1. re: eatnbmerry

                    Yes, while I didnt have an issue with it, I have to admit that waiting for a table is a total disaster. If you have to wait, there is little area to stand in and youre basically standing there crammed while watching the entire room eat dinner which I imagine is pretty uncomfortable.

                    1. re: eatnbmerry

                      Seems like the clear message is that they need some competent front of house help. And still need to sort out the menu.

                      1. re: Frodnesor

                        Surprised you agree with her palate in this case since she does like Ver Daddy's (or at least did, who knows maybe another MD switch-a-roo :). Or is it better to say that we are all allowed our little indulgences? Be they a greasy rib or taco.

                        1. re: eatnbmerry

                          I haven't tried Alta Cocina so I don't know if I agree on this one or not, other than that both reviews - and B.M. as well - have noted some repeated and basic problems with restaurant management, and both reviews had similar up-and-down assessments of the food.

                  2. I went last Saturday to Alta Cocina and the food was excelent. The fusion del rabo was amazing, the sea bass was out of control, the short rib app and calamari was very good too. Nice spanish wine selection, we got Prima d.o. toro ,spain for $40 that was nice wine. The dessert was very good, the buttermilk panna cotta and bananas beignets we loved. The owner are young and they need a strong FOH manager.