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Aventura, and elsewhere report 2009--very long

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Hey there, wanted to post my dining experiences, so there would be a current update, and it would be a help to others. Was there for 6 days, from NYC---

Night 1:
P F Changs (Biscayne Blvd, near Aventura area), normally I'd avoid this place, but we ended up here as it was on the late side and it was nearby and we were coming from airport.........Had surprisingly excellent Chang's Chicken Soup (so fresh and light), Lemon Scallops (tasty although it is begging for some sort of veggie with it), Orange Peel Shrimp, Lo Mein with scallion, red pepper, and eggplant in garlic (we asked them to make this,and it was good). All in all, an enjoyable meal, and an really excellent Pinot Grigio by the glass. Very child friendly, and excellent waiter, Matthew from Milwaukee.

Day 2: Lunch at Julio's in Skylake Mall. On the way there saw an old man that was just run down in the street and people all holding his hand in the street, a very upsetting scene to prologue the meal. But anyhow, had grilled vegetable salad--very good, and house balsamic vinagrette. They need to serve some whole grain fresh bread or some kind of accompanment for their salads. Place serves very fresh and large portioned salads, the atmosphere is no fuss and child friendly, and you can eat outside. Sweet waitresses also.

Dinner: Pilar in Aventura in Promenade Shops. As you know if you've read my other yearly or so reports, I love this place. It should be much much more applauded on this site. It is a true gem. First of all, this is extremely high quality, well prepared food, and much lower price point that say Chef Allen or Prezzo, Timo, or other neighboring places, and having been to all of them, Pilar is much much better. Portions are generous at Pilar, and the seafood is expertly prepared. I have never had better scallops than there, and I live in NYC, and I've had many versions, but theirs are amazing. The filet mignon is excellent, the tilapia is great, the snapper is great, the special of the evening, Swordfish blackened with vegetables was great. Very good appetizer of Rock shrimp rolls. Excellent Key Lime pie, and delicous Banana chocolate cake. Lovely Pinot Grigio by the glass. Anyway, my point is the place is great. It's mellow, warm, and the food is dependably good. Service is friendly, appreciative and warm. They are so nice to my toddler son, also. We loved it so much we went again, on Night 6. it's a popular place with the locals, and rightfully so.

Day 3:
Lunch: Take out from whole foods---their prices are very high for prepared foods, but decent tuna, cole slaw, orzo, etc....

Dinner: Horrendously bad meal, poor food and poor service, and such a depressing atmosphere. L'Piccolo in North Miami on 125th st. Would never venture here ever again. Waited an hour for oversized (mostly over pasta'd) bland food that made your local pizzeria look like a fine italian dining establishment. 2 words, stay away. That area of North Miami is so depressing over there. People we were meeting like it there, can't figure it out at all.

Day 4:
Lunch: Oasis in Miami Beach Arthur Godfrey across from Mount Sinai. Ended up here because we were on our way down to the beach. Actually we meant to go to the new Epicure, but we made a wrong turn, and didn't cross at Sunny Isles but Bal Harbour instead. Checked out that Food Gang place I had read about here, but they were closed. We really should've and wanted to try Buena Vista Cafe, in the design district but we stupidly crossed over to the beach when we didn't mean to, and paid the toll, so didn't want to come back. Well, next time. Anyway, having spent much time in Mount Sinai for sick relatives, we used to like Oasis. Gone through another ownership change. Food was nothing special, morrocan chicken sandwich was alright, salads were very small and over priced. Price on sandwich was fair. An okay place if you need to eat in the area, but not destination by any means.

Dinner: Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh, what a fantastic meal. Joe's Stone Crabs South Beach, . Hadn't been in awhile, but couldn't resist my best friend's ability to get us a table on a Saturday night (yeah--you are reading correctly, Sat night high season, we waited about 90 seconds, the maitre d' adores her)........so in we go, with our toddler, too. And we proceeded to have an excellent meal, intense waitress Paula served us. She was something out of central casting. What a trip. My son loved her. Had 2 orders of stone crabs (large and the select I think (the ones that are smaller), both delicious but I think the smaller ones were a bit sweeter. Now, in all the years I've gone to Joe's I just never ever got anything but stone crabs and required accessories, But this time, we got an order of shrimp scampi and man, if it wasn't the best I have ever had in my life. So, good that we got another order because everyone loved it. A great deal at $19, the shrimp are huge perfectly prepared old school with the bread tucked in the side of dish to dip. Had the creamed spinach, the spinach with garlic, and the lyonnaise potatoes, and of course, Key lime pie, and my son, chocolate ice cream. Everything was perfect. Go at an off hour or right when they open so you don't have to wait. But, being there right at rush hour on a Sat night was kind of thrilling, it felt so Miami , had great energy, and really took me back to my youth when my family used to eat there alot. And I've got to say, that they stone crabs just taste different there, fresh and without any kind of icy or off taste that I've encountered many other places that claimed they were serving top quality stuff. They never taste like Joe's. Run don't walk there if you are visiting the area, It is a must stop, just go for lunch or early dinner, so you avoid the madhouse waits.

Day 5:
Lunch: Lunch: NMB, Julio's again, Greek Salad, and Grilled Vegetable Salad. Both good. But didn't like the dressing for the greek salad at all, ask for dressing on the side and get the balsamic vinager instead.

Dinner: Anthony's Coal Oven Pizza, in Aventura. Chicken wings, wings good, but foccacio could have used alot more olive oil and rosemary. Lacking in flavor, Much better last year when I was there for this. Had Eggplant Marino appetizer, really excellent. Fresh mozzarella and fresh tomato pizza--way too much cheese, and no sauce...too heavy tasting. Much prefer a margherita version with tomato sauce, less cheese and fresh basil. Excellent house salad with gorgonzola. So fresh, and perfect. Another pizza with eggplant, and mushrooms. Very good. But prefer the eggplant appetizer where you really taste the eggplant. and there is no cheese on it.

Day 6:
Lunch: Panera in Boca Raton, ended up there as we needed it to be quick, and I definitely didn't want to go the Cheesecake Factory route.But after researching area places in Boca, I would last there about 3 days. Not my thing at all. Good Turkey Sierra sandwich at Panera, and I like to mix their coffees and make iced coffee. A homeless woman came in with a cup went over to the beverage center filled her cup and left. The manager went running after her with a broom. It was quite a sight. Prices are higher on salads here than NYC and portions are smaller than NYC. Strange.

Dinner: Barrio Latino. Waterways--nice place to walk at night. A real Israeli hangout. Some cute shops there. Like the atmosphere here, it's famliy friendly, and service is excellent. Good shrimp with garlic (but nowhere near Joe's quality, but very garlicy and good to mop up the sauce with their butter bread)...Good rice and beans and maduras. Very good heavy styled flan. Good chicken steak, also. and very good filet mignon. Easy menu lots of choices. A good standby place...and child friendly. Prices are fair, portions are large.

Last day:
Lunch: Anthony's --went back again, and got salad, side order of foccacio, and eggplant marino. My son loves the eggplant, and it was worth it to go again, to see him eat it so well. Everything good. Place is a local gem.

Dinner: Back to Pilar in Aventura again, see review up the page.

One more mention for Bagel Cove, son loves their lox and cream cheese spread, and decent bagels, bit chewy but okay. Pump is very good. Mo's is good for eating there, good greek salad, eggplant, other stuff..but some of their takeout is so gloppy looking. Their version of lox and cream cheese spread is huge chunks of lox mixed in the creamcheese. I prefer the pureed one like Bagel Cove has.

Back in NYC now, after being stuck on the runway for a 4 hour delay. What am I eating tommorow? Well, of course I head to chinatown, Flushing, for a fix of my favorites.

If you visit New York, in the outer boroughs, (queens and brookly), look me up, I'm very active on that board, and I'll be happy to turn you onto some local treasures.

Thank you!

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  1. Well, we second Janie's post about Pilar. I had a great dinner with my family a month ago and another great meal with my dear friend visiting from out of town. By the way, the service was impeccable yet warm at the same time.

    We both started with the tuna tartar appetizers which were great. She had the seared tuna with a rock shrimp roll and bok choy as her main and I had the crab cake app as my entree. Both were very generous portions and excellent. We also had a side of sauteed spinach and mushrooms. My only criticism is that the spinach was under-seasoned.

    She had two ketel one martinis and the bartender made her some blue cheese stuffed olives to go in her drinks as she had requested. The olives were not on the cocktail menu, but were made specially for her. She was thrilled. I had a classic, very well made mojito. The bill with tax was $84.00 which is a real bargain. I think Pilar is a real find.