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Miami Spice 2008

Miami Spice is doing a "sneak preview" this summer from June 16 to June 30. Participating restaurants are listed on the site, Regular Spice starts in August. Tuscan Steak is always a "must do" during Spice. I'll post back with more recs as the menus get posted.

http://ilovemiamispice.com/

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  1. beat you to the punch Chowfather! But the more information the better, thank god you are not asking where is there to eat in Miami, for the thousandth time on here!

    ; )

    http://www.chowhound.com/topics/519074

    2 Replies
    1. re: jmdhsmiami

      My bad. Must have missed that post. Probably b/c of the Coral Gables part

      1. re: The Chowfather AKA sobe

        no problem! Life is too short to be militant on here about who says what, when, and where on this board!

    2. It's that time of year again!

      My first Miami Spice 2008 - Por Fin (Coral Gables).
      Possibly the longest Miami Spice lunch menu I've ever seen, with a choice of a half dozen apps and nearly a dozen mains, but only one dessert on offer. You can also choose to skip the dessert and get app and entree for $20, which is what I did (I'm particularly not big on dessert at lunch). The lunch menu is here ->
      http://www.ilovemiamispice.com/PDFs_M...
      Por Fin has been doing an executive lunch deal for some time now, so this is probably not incredibly different from their standard executive lunch.

      Started with the bunuelos de bacalao, a generous serving of 5 over a bed of nicely dressed greens, with a squizzle of romesco over them. Nice, light, not overly fishy, and with the greens underneath a pretty substantial appetizer. Followed with the seafood stew, a nice broth with a couple decent pieces of white fish (cod?), and a couple each of shrimp, clams and mussels. My fellow diner got the pork chop, a pretty substantial chop served w/ sauteed mushrooms and a shmear of apple sauce. Nothing revelatory but a good meal.

      1. I haven't had a chance to study all of the menus yet but here is a top 10 list from a local expert
        http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/shorto...

        11 Replies
        1. re: The Chowfather AKA sobe

          Trying to identify good Spice targets is a worthy endeavor, and I do the same menu-scanning myself, but if you're a "professional" (sometimes those quotation marks really come in handy) food writer and all, it sure seems like a writer doing a "preview" column might have, oh, actually tried out some of the Miami Spice preview menus available the past month, no? And I love how fellow New Times writers chime in with comments on the author's "credibility". Isn't that for readers to decide?

          Would have been nice to note that the filet rossini w/ foie at Bourbon Steak is a $10 supplement.
          http://ilovemiamispice.com/PDFs_Menus...

          Not sure what's stingy about the Palme d'Or menu either, w/ smoked salmon w/ avruga caviar app, wild striped bass or beef tenderloin as entree (no farmed salmon, no skirt steak, no chicken, my favorite "cheapskate" tells).
          http://ilovemiamispice.com/PDFs_Menus...

          Pascal's menu has a great typo, "Grilled Anger Steak".
          http://ilovemiamispice.com/PDFs_Menus...

          No mention of Talula, which I find always does a pretty good job with these (and also regularly change their menu, in part I think to keep the cooks from slitting their wrists with their chefs' knives from the boredom of cranking out the same dish over and over).
          http://www.ilovemiamispice.com/PDFs_M...

          BTW, I think it's been noted elsewhere already, but while MGF&D is not participating in Miami Spice, they are offering prix fixe lunch ($22) and dinner ($35) weekdays only thru September. And it is pretty much impossible to put together an app, main and dessert at Red Light for more than $35, which I believe is now staying open 6 days a week. I had a nice dinner of grapefruit, goat cheese & arugula salad, braised oxtails, and dragonfruit & ginger sorbet for about $25 last night.

          1. re: Frodnesor

            I hear you but I'm willing to cut him some slack on this one. It was a blog post and not a weekly print column and I understand and can appreciate what he was trying to do. He's been to most if not all of the participating restaurants and can certainly comment on the spice options. Does he really need to sample the salmon, chicken and pasta dishes being served at some of these spots?? Nah. I prefer to have him spend his time trying and reviewing new places.

            1. re: The Chowfather AKA sobe

              Not to mention that the Miami Spice Month has gone on for years. in fact some menus look fairly similar to previous years'.

            2. re: Frodnesor

              Interesting to note that Bourbon Steak changed it's menu (which had been critiqued as "stingiest" at 1 app, 2 entrees and 1 dessert choice) in an earlier review in the Herald. Guess they recognized their error and the current menu looks like it will be worth a try (I have a feeling Mina's time in Turnberry may be as short as Bouley's in SoBe, so this will probably be my only chance).

              I'm probably only going to get out 3 times, so I'm going with Bourbon Steak, Blue Door and Capital Grille or Escopazzo.

              My first of the 3 will be mid-August, so hope to see some user reviews here first! Especially Bourbon, which laypeople seems to be very critical of (online reviews), but pros rave about (Herald).

              1. re: non sequitur

                Heard rumblings about Bourbon Steak? I don't see the same fare as Evolution just because (I) the place has been packed everytime I've gone and (II) Mina is under contract with Fairmont I believe to have restaurants in their resorts. Besides that it's one of the, if not the best restaurant in Miami. The Spice menu is a steal with the quality and service you're going to get.

                On a separate note went to Prime Blue Grille for the first night of Miami Spice. They're offering free bottomless pours of select wines through Saturday. Couple that with he spice menu and it's a recession special worthy of national attention. Only problem was that the food was God awful. Lobster bisque was watery and our medium far steaks were well done. Even the sides were awful. It was like cruise ship food. I do have to say that the wines and surprisingly attentive service slightly made up for it. I'd recommend the spice deal till tomorrow when the wine promo has its last stand. After that......meh.

                1. re: non sequitur

                  NS - I actually haven't heard anyone critical of Bourbon Steak here or elsewhere, other than perhaps the prices. I also don't recall their Spice menu being particularly stingy. I looked at their menu last week (it's been updated since) and there were a few choices, all regular menu items, and if you were to reconstruct the menu at regular prices it would be $70+. To quote The Who, "I'd call that a bargain."
                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4632...
                  I'm sure Bourbon Steak is slow right now but I think L2M is probably right that the Mina/Fairmont affiliation will keep it around for a while.

                  L2M - I've only been once but I also was not impressed with the food at Prime Blue.
                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/514421

                  1. re: Frodnesor

                    The point I was trying to make was that the revamped Bourbon Steak menu is much improved from the preview, which the Herald wrote "With only one appetizer (a blue cheese, bacon and avocado salad) and two mains (short ribs and snapper), Bourbon Steak has the stingiest Spice menu I have ever seen. Still, it's an affordable way to enjoy a place where ordering from the à la carte menu would cost you way north of 100 bucks." So if that was a bargain, then I agree the new one must be even better, which is why I'll go.

                    The full rundown of best bets in the Herald is at http://www.miamiherald.com/entertainm...

                    An example of a user comment that was not singing the praises is at
                    http://gagit.net/?p=28

                    The author seems a bit snotty though, so I don't know how much stock I put in his conclusions. I will find out for myself in August.

                    1. re: non sequitur

                      Snotty is an understatement. This place is light years more creative and yet classic than any steakhouse in town, Prime 112 included.

                      1. re: lax2mia

                        Alright, you guys are twisting my arm, I am going to head up there :)

                      2. re: non sequitur

                        One pompous a*hole with questionable taste does not a consensus make (at least that's what people tell me all the time).

                        1. re: Frodnesor

                          Not a very good or interesting writer either...

              2. Wanted to bump this thread since subsequent ones ("positive m.s. experience", "negative m.s. experience) have divided and conquered a one-spot roundup.

                Here's my limited initial contribution:
                1. China Grill, lunch menu, positive.
                Appetizers: calamari salad (huge, good, family sized) and dumplings (nothing unusual)
                Mains: Drunken Chicken (this is a signature items, but not that impressed with it).
                Side: Veggie fried rice (a high end version of your local take-out)
                What I'd do differently: wish we'd ordered the mushroom pasta as the main
                Overall, the lunch menu at C.G. seems to be identical to the dinner one, and I can attest that the sizes are the same, so going for lunch over dinner makes a lot of sense.

                2. Escopazzo, dinner, positive
                Appetizers: Mozzarella sticks (yum! Much better then you'd think from the name); salad
                Mains: Pasta of day (tagliatelle with zucchini - good); risotto of day (gorgonzola - very good), penette with pumpkin puree (not that impressed with this - looked like "kraft dinner")
                What I'd do differently: wish they had the gnocchi (we were the only ones there, and they are made to order, and I think the chef didn't want to make them)
                Comments: Escopazzo is an expensive place, and during Miami Spice the cost of 3 courses is equal to the price of the main, which is why you won't find me there in any other month except August/September (in this economy, I can't afford $30 pasta).

                Next up:
                Bourbon Steak (which will be new to me)
                Capital Grille (no surprises expected there)

                Wish List:
                Palme d'Or
                Blue Door

                3 Replies
                1. re: non sequitur

                  My spice review #3: Bourbon Steak. Though a Wednesday, restaurant was well attended and many seemed to be enjoying the spice menu, judging by the trio of duck fat fries gracing every table.

                  Wanting to indulge, we made the foolish move of ordering 3 spice menus (for 2 people). This was a mistake because the portions were generous (and supplemented with the fries and potato/truffle bread).

                  The menu changed slightly from the one posted at the miami spice website. Appetizers were the same: watercress salad, tempura prawn and corn soup with grilled cheese (the soup/grilled cheese was the clear favorite, with the prawn being more like chinese takeout, and the salad being superfluous). The tuna was replaced with swordfish, and the cheesecake was replaced with a donut with cinnamon ice cream (good, but I'd planned to with the cheesecake).

                  I brought a bottle of Russian River pinot noir which was properly decanted and well treated for the $25 corkage fee.

                  What I'd do differently: 2 menus, not 3. Stick with the corn soup. I also would have tried to arrange to go on a Friday between 6 and 8pm next time, as that is the only day with the 'social hour' featuring half price specialty martinis.

                  1. re: non sequitur

                    The duck fries and truffle bread go out to every table, not just Spice. Nice that they do it for Spice customers.

                    1. re: non sequitur

                      Bumping thread with my 4th report: Capital Grille, which I greatly enjoyed last night.

                      As noted elsewhere, CG offers the spice menu for almost less than the price of an entree, making it a great deal. We opted for 2 signature entees: kona crusted sirloin and porcini crusted filet, both were excellent and came with mashed potatoes and broccoli. We both started with the ceasar salad (nothing special) and finished with the generous flourless chocolate cake and creme brulee (both were large, and excellent). I wouldn't have done anything differently. We shared the meal with our 2 young ones (this is one place I'm comfortable bringing them because the booths are good for containment), and all left sated. $20 corkage was a huge bonus (wine cellar is filling quicker than it is emptying).

                  2. Miami Spice Winner
                    Bourbon Steak

                    The food was outstanding and you will have a very hard time finding more value from a Spice menu.

                    In addition to the three course spice menu, we were served the famous Trio of Duck Fat Fries with dipping sauces. Very good. Then they brought us a pan of potato focaccia bread drizzled with truffle oil. I'm not a pre-dinner bread guy but this was also outstanding and hard to resist

                    I opted to start with the cumin dusted tempura prawns which ended up being my least favorite part of the meal. It was just ok and nothing special. However, the filet rossini with foie gras in a pinot noir reduction was perfect. It should be noted that the filet was $10 extra. Desserts (beignets)were good not great.
                    Enjoyable meal and a Miami Spice winner for sure.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: The Chowfather AKA sobe

                      Totally agree except I liked the beignets a little more simple because the pudding that came with the beignets was freaking outrageous.

                      1. re: lax2mia

                        i'm glad the fries came and potato focaccia -- both were good, wish mina had more trio or three way dishes on the menu. i agree the filet with foie was great (5 oz) the pot de creme with the beignets was tasty. i tried the roasted bone marrow (2), very fatty, didn't particularly like it, but the kobe burger was really tasty

                      2. re: The Chowfather AKA sobe

                        I knew you'd come through for me chowfather!

                        I'd planned to order the duck fat fries separately, but knowing now that it will come included, I won't ask (unless you think that was abnormal that you got it).

                        What appetizer would you pick now? Corn soup, or watercress salad (which sounds like something that would just make my stomach mad: 'where food'?)

                        Did they make any wine pairing recommendations? I think I'm going to bring a bottle (they have a very reasonable $25 corkage fee), and since it's a pinot noir reduction, that would seem to be the logical thing to bring.

                        I don't usually overthink things this much, but this is a big anniversary, and I want to indulge. I was even thinking of either supplementing the spice menu with an extra fois gras appetizer, or a third spice menu to split (which is probably the better value: then I can hedge on the appetizers by getting one of each, and some ahi to go with the steaks).

                        1. re: non sequitur

                          non-s, I was the only one drinking wine and opted for a half bottle of Au Bon Climat pinot in lieu of the BTG options. I thought it worked well with the filet. I posted the wine list on the wine board and obtained some good recommendations for my next visit
                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/549322