RIP in 2008
Every year seems to bring about restaurant closings, but this year's been particularly hard, especially the last few months. More places on my "usuals" roster have shut their doors. So here's my list of places I'll miss and thanks to the owners for taking the risk of opening these unique places in a burgeoning Miami food scene in the first place:
Sheba - the only Ethiopian in Miami for a while (although I recently saw a sign at Kafa Kafe near the Design District for Ethiopian dinner - Chowdown anyone?) the place was as much a trendsetter in the Design District as MGFD. Friendly owners and staff, great entertainment and delicious food.
Le Bon - Learned about it's demise Friday when the restaurant was shuttered and the windows covered with posters for the new, expanded Tiramesu. Where to go for mussels and frites on an early Sunday dinner on Lincoln Rd I have no idea, but this place was always the underappreciated little sister of its slutty older sister Tiramesu. GIve they people what they want, and according to Lincoln Rd, what people want is a lot of Italian food. But again, thanks for giving this place its moment in the sun, perhaps in a less touristy area a mussels restaurant can thrive (Midtown anyone?).
Boutique Kitchen - a sign said the place was shut down for a day due to a busted air conditioner. Weeks went by with no opening. Finally the menu was taken down and tables and chairs removed. It was a neighborhood place that my friends were jealous they didn't have in their neighborhood. Good, inventive, homestyle food, excellent prices, friendly owners. Don't know what happened but I wish Jean luck wherever he is.
Pacific Time - yes, it basically moved, but it's not the same. Not that I don't enjoy PT2, I do, but the original PT had its place on Lincoln Rd where it was basically the only fine dining establishment for a while. Gone is the duck but now there's sweetbreads! Guess we made out better with this move.
Domo Japones - I hated this place. The bad service, mediocre food, and huge topless picture of what looks like a barely legal Naomi Campbell made for a place I hoped would be replaced but something better. I think someone may have taken over and redone the spot and I heard the place is doing OK.
In the Panhandle-
Criolla's in Grayton Beach- the restaurant that really started to move the area away from the same old fried fish & shrimp and french fries kinds of menus. Johnny Earles has decided to concentrate mostly on his property management business and use the old building for catering and such.
Beachwalk Cafe is reportedly not going to reopen after its usual winter hiatus.
NO WAY! Le Bon is closing!?!?!?! That blows.... I will miss those mussell pots.
Biggest loss for me this year was Cafe Tu Tu Tango in the Grove. I enjoyed the food there and they had a great outdoor bar. Also gone from the Grove...
Ginger Grove (they had good chinese food but they were in the Mayfair and never promoted. Angelo & Maxies is there now and will probably meet its demise by end of '09 for the same reason)
Ristorante d' Il Frasca
Firkin & Friar (apparently being reborn as either "Firkin" or "Friar" or something dumb like that)
Cefalo's (good riddance)
Marcanio's (spelling may be wrong but it was next to Cefalos)
3484 Main Hwy (victim of dumb menu change and tough location along with building issues)
Red Lantern (good riddance! this place was disgusting and its really hard to eff up Chinese food)
AS Tacomania (this was my favorite. taco place notices that hole-in-the-wall Crepemaker across the street is doing decent biz, so what do they do? They change the business to "Tacos and Crepe Land!" Yes, that is the actual name of a (former) restaurant. As you can imagine, it died a relatively quick death. It has been reborn again as a middleastern resto whose name escapes me now where the servers wear ridiculous outfits.)
Some cuban joint that took the Crepemakers spot and quickly went under
Cazzoli's Pizza (this place had awesome pizza but I think I remember it had some major health violations. Its now a new pizza place whose name also escapes me but its pretty much the same ish)
Tasti D Lite (now Akashi Sushi - score!)
The Cheese Plate (I could be wrong on the name here but there was a wine/cheese shop that served sandwiches at this spot on Main Hwy. The business started hurting so they scrambled and decided to change it to a sushi joint. Only thing was that there was a transitional period where they served sushi but had wine and cheese all throughout the restaurant for purchase to dump that inventory. The place is now Siam Oshi sushi and it actually is pretty good and a good value. We'll see how long that lasts with Akashi across the street now)
And her in Sarasota, St. Pete, and Tampa, we gave lost, respectively, in Sarasota: MT's (Martinis and Tapas) and Chef's Table; in Sarasota and St. Pete: The Table, and in Tampa: Alessi's Oven, not to mention earlier this year or in late 2007, St. Bart's Fish House. Happily, Alessi's Bakery is still open, but the other restaurants will be sorely missed by those of us who seek adventure and something different when we eat, or seek old reliables prepared superbly.