Meat Market - Lincoln Road, Miami Beach
For a post Art Basel meal we headed over to Lincoln Road this evening to try out The Meat Market, the new steakhouse opened by the folks who brought you Touch. It's in the space which used to be Pacific Time, though it's been significantly refurbished. Room is done in mostly tones of brown and gold, a large bar (and raw bar) in the front area and lots of banquettes along the walls, and tables with some low-slung white animal-skin leather couches up the middle. As Lincoln Road seems to have gone increasingly down-scale, this place is going in the opposite direction, and it looks pretty sharp.
Although the name would suggest a pretty single-minded focus, the menu actually has a lot of seafood options, especially in the apps, where there are about 8-9 raw fish and seafood items as well as several cooked apps. There's also an incredible plethora of vegetable sides (more than 20).
We started with a "cedar scented" hamachi crudo, smoked corn soup, a mozzarella and tomato salad, a caesar, then followed with kobe sliders (an app which Frod Jr. had as a main), a buffalo tenderloin, a 6oz filet, and sides of mac & cheese, creamed spinach and gouda tater-tots.
I detected no scent of cedar in the hamachi, though I did pick up a whiff of ripoff when I saw the four nigiri-sized slices of fish (i.e. about the size of a slice you'd lay on top of a rice ball for nigiri; not as thin as an usuzukuri, nor as thick as a block-cut for sashimi) for which they were charging $19. On the positive side, it was nice fish, and nicely flavored. Though I could find no "mango caviar" either, I did get lime juice, a subtle hint of truffle (subtle is good - truffle oil is too often a crutch), and a thin slice of jalapeno.
The smoked corn soup was nicely flavored, but served at a somewhat tepid temperature. Garnishes of fresh crab and pepper salsa apparently sank to the bottom in a rather unappealing lump.
Mozzarella and tomato salad used some nice cheese, an assemblange of different tomatoes (slices of "heirloom" red and green tomatoes, a few peeled cherry tomatoes), along with some grilled onions and roasted peppers (didn't think these were a great pairing). I was initially a little puzzled when Little Miss F said the tomato was "crunchy" - the tomatoes were ripe, but indeed they had been generously spinkled with a crystallized sea salt that gave an unfortunate gritty texture. The dish was also fairly swimming in balsamic vinegar.
Caesar used the limp part of the romaine and was overdressed to my taste.
The buffalo tenderloin brought some redemption, the meat coated in a chile and espresso rub and then topped with a Mexican mole butter. This was a great accompaniment for the lean buffalo. It was cooked much more rare than the medium rare I requested, but happened to be awfully good that way.
Mrs. F had a conventional cow filet mignon. They offer both filet and NY strip in half-sizes, which is nice - the 6oz filet was the right size for her, along with a mushroom and truffle sauce (more than a dozen butters and sauces are offered for pairing with the steaks for a fairly nominal charge).
The kobe sliders came as a duo, apparently one topped with foie gras, the other with cheddar, both also with bacon and a little caramelized onion, and advertised as having "mango mustard" though I couldn't taste it. Frod Jr. made the foie-topped one disappear with me only sneaking one tiny bite (lord, what am I raising?), then ran out of steam in the middle of the second one. I thought they were a wee bit overcooked but still tasty.
The mac and cheese disappointed, a generous portion but an unusual use of a gemelli pasta and the dish just didn't quite seem to come together like a good mac and cheese ought to. Rarely is there anything left of a good M&C at our table, but this one didn't get finished. The creamed spinach was made with fresh spinach and topped with crumbles of crispy bacon and fried onion. The gouda tater-tots are a great idea, and tasted just slightly white-trashy (in a good way), but I did not like the dipping sauce (a hollandaise?) which had a little too much lemon or other acid to pair with them.
Had a couple desserts, a "Chocolate Temptation" with the ubiquitous oozy flourless chocolate cake (but a good one) along with a scoop of chocolate ice cream (balanced on a little bed of nicely bitter cocoa powder), and an "Inverted Cobbler" of nectarine and mango, with bright fruit flavor but the "inverted cobbler" base really brought nothing to the party, merely cold crumbles as compared to the pleasures of a nice warm biscuit or streusel.
Pretty lengthy wine list, predictably tilted toward cabs and bordeaux-style blends (it is a steakhouse after all). I didn't get a good feel for the whole list. We had a Ravenswood Teldeschi Vineyard Zin, which at $85 was about 2.5x the original release price from the winery, but more than 3x the average current retail price at most online retailers. It was served at proper temperature (i.e., NOT room temperature), an increasing rarity these days.
All of the staff were tremendously solicitous (possibly even overly so), with a number of people checking in on us during the course of the meal, including a multitude of extremely tall and attractive hostesses. The place pretty much fillled up by the time we were heading out and gets quite lively and noisy.
There was much else on the menu that intrigued - an app of smoked salmon w/ a sweet potato cake and mamey crema; buffalo-fried quail legs; a "tropical braised fatty brisket"; lots of interesting sauces and side dishes. Though it's probably the wrong economic climate, $95 for a 6oz Japanese A5 Kobe beef filet mignon actually seems (relatively) low. We saw a number of tables sharing what I think was the 30oz bone-in NY strip from Harris Ranch listed on the menu, which did not look like it sucked. I'd love to see a little attention paid to grass-fed beef.
Though we had some disappointments and I thought almost everything could have been done a little better, I did think there were a number of positives. The flavors of the hamachi crudo were good (if not the price), the buffalo tenderloin was excellent, and the menu has a lot more of interest than you'd expect, rather than being just "yet another steakhouse". Given the dearth of good dining options along Lincoln Road these guys, this ought to be a good addition.
915 Lincoln road, Miami Beach, FL 33139
Finally made a trip over to Meat Market with fellow CH poster, Nikklos, last Friday night. Both of us were first timers who had heard good things from friends about the food and scene. The space was nice and I thought they made good use of what little real estate that they have. The only thing I thought was kinda dumb was the sushi/crudite bar. Its adjoined to the bar up front and kinda seems out of place, especially considering the resto is called Meat Market. I just think they would be better served to make that part of the real bar where patrons will sit there drinking and thus giving them better margins.
We started off with a few cocktails. I was happy to see that they had my favorite everyday bourbon, Basil Hayden, so I got one on the rocks. Mr Nikklos went with a dry martini which came w/ blue cheese stuffed olives. Later he switched to the chevre infused martini with peppercorns and blue cheese stuffed olives which he said was good. Im gonna go off on a tangent here about something that bothers me about restaurants these days. Most places have an extensive bar stocked with multiple liquor varieties, yet very few have a liquor menu! Nothing is more annoying to me than having to ask the server, who always has to check and get back to me, what kind of bourbons they carry. If youre gonna have a bar, have a damn liquor menu already. If cost is an issue, print it on paper and laminate it. The cost will be less than $0.20.
I have to admit that I wasnt too impressed with the appetizer offerings. Nothing really jumped out at me. We ended up ordering a 1/2 dozen oysters (2 each of 3 varieties), the "tuna tacos", and the beef tartar (mightve been kobe, cant really remember). The oysters were refreshingly good and served with just about every oyster condiment you could ask for. I especially liked one of the sauces that had some sesame oil in it. Next up, the tuna tacos. To be blunt, these things sucked. The taco shells were puny and very frail and it was a DIY dish so you had to stuff the rest of the ingredients in there which resulted in them breaking. The tuna was a small seared block with little flavor and the greens were a garlic chive I believe. I think the greens were the only part I thought was decent and that aint saying much. The dish simply was not good, period. The beef tartar was awesome though and totally redeemed the crappy tacos. It had a great flavor to it and thats about all I can say.
After about 3-4 cocktails and some apps we decided on a bottle of pinot noir to go with dinner. I cant remember what brand it was as the night had began to turn into a gong show at that point thanks to the pre-entree cocktails and fun banter with the bar staff. Both of us had ordered the kobe filet with foie gras accompaniment. The meat itself was unbelievably good and the foie just added to the awesomeness. I had ordered my steak rare but the bartender advised that medium rare would be a better selection due to the steak's marbling. I thought this mightve been BS for "we dont cook steaks less than MR" but in the end it was a great call. The steak was so tender that I probably couldve cut thru it with a fork with a decent amount of effort. Delicious dish all around.
Earlier in the night, when we were first selecting cocktails, I schooled the bartender on my knowledge of bourbons when I informed him that Booker's was 125.4 proof and not a good choice for the 1st drink of the night. He was unaware of its potency. Unfortunately, Mr Nikklos remembered that and suggested we order one for dessert which we obviously did before getting our bill. Seemed like a good idea at the time. Not so much the next day around 2pm when my hangover kicked in...
The service was great. Sitting at the bar, you kinda expect good service as the bartender is right there but there were 3-4 people behind the bar on this night and all were busy. Our main bartender taking care of us was a girl on her 3rd day. She often turned to the only guy bartender for help and he was very knowledgeable on all the menu items, both drinks and food. They were all a fun group too.
Overall, it was a great experience. The bill was ridiculous, absurd, and ridiculously absurd but I didnt feel like we didnt get what we paid for as the food was awesome. The exception being those tuna tacos that sucked. I will definitely go back for a return visit.
Wow! Very impressed with every aspect of this place and it could be my new favorite place on South Beach. They did a great job renovating/updating this spot and it really does look sharp.
The kobe beef slider duo was extremely tasty. After devouring both I assumed they would be the winner of the night but I was wrong. The kobe skirt steak was even better. It was tender and packed with flavor. It was perfect.
I didn't sample them but the white truffle kobe tar tar and buffalo mozzarella also received raves at the table.
This place is a great addition to South Beach and should be a winner. If you are looking for great food in a fun/lively SoBe setting, you should hit Meat Market
I'm looking forward to going back