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2 Dinners in SoBE - Romantic and Business

m
mrmagee Mar 6, 2009 01:14 PM

So coming down to SoBe all the way from Fort Lauderdale (although originally from London). Staying 4 nights at the Loews for a trade show, but bringing the wife and baby with. The show starts Monday night, but coming down Sunday so I get a night with the wife - we have already organized a babysitter Bringing her with so she can get some R&R, and it doesn’t cost anything extra as the business is paying for the hotel. Have only been out once with her since our boy was born in September, so looking for somewhere really nice and romantic for our ‘date’ night!

Also need somewhere for dinner on Tuesday for me, my boss (flying in from London) and an important client of ours - a European lady living/working in Houston. For this, need somewhere upscale and elegant; not too noisy, but ideally somewhere we know its SoBe. Also want to be able to walk to both restaurants. Was originally thinking Casa Tua, but I think its too expensive - expensive is fine, just not break the bank expensive.

So, was thinking Wish for Sunday night with the wife, and perhaps Escopazzo or Bistro One LF on Tuesday. Then saw the set-menu at Blue Door, could be an option for Sunday but I am not sure the missus will think being at the Delano too romantic (good for drinks, not sure for dinner), but this could work well, and could do Wish for the business dinner.

Any suggestions / tips would be really appreciated. Also, if you know of any other deals for our Sunday night dinner, like the $36 menu at ChinaGrillMgmnt restaurants or the 25% off wine at Talula - would be much appreciated.

  1. h
    hollys Apr 2, 2009 11:59 AM

    I am going to recommend Scarpetta in the Fountainebleau for either occasion. It is romantic enough for a romantic dinner (great cozy booths) yet appropriately quiet enough and impressive enough for a business dinner. The room is decorated in the style of a very elegant cruise liner (done in various shades of silver and icy blue). The food is upscale Northern Italian - with a terrific selection of pastas, risottos, polenta, and salads for starters; and very good fish and veal, steak, etc. for the main course. It is not within walking distance, but I think it is worth a ten minute cab ride. Look at the menu on the Fountainebleau website. I think you will like it.

    3 Replies
    1. re: hollys
      m
      mrmagee Apr 2, 2009 12:56 PM

      thanks Holly, but i did the trip a couple of weeks ago, hence the long report above :)

      1. re: mrmagee
        h
        hollys Apr 2, 2009 01:16 PM

        oops - didn't see that post - but definitely give it a try on your next trip. I feel it is very good food at a better than average price point for Miami Beach in a beautiful setting(maybe one of the prettiest dining rooms on the beach). I also hear their Sunday brunch is wonderful.

        1. re: hollys
          Frodnesor Apr 2, 2009 01:43 PM

          I'm not sure that anyplace with a $23 pasta pomodoro can be appropriately described as a "better than average price point". I'd say it's pricey but no more so than many other places (apps in high teens, pastas in $20s, mains in high $20s to $40+) and I thought the food was very good ->
          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/585152

          I actually found the room sort of odd and thought it felt somewhat thrown together.

          www.foodforthoughtmiami.com

    2. m
      mrmagee Apr 1, 2009 09:43 PM

      Ok, its been a couple of weeks, so I don't remember all the details on what we ate, but had some good meals and experiences in SoBe.

      For the anniversary dinner ended up choosing Loftin's, as the fixed price option at the Setai turned out to be too good to be true - it would have been $110 per head rather than the $55 they said the first time I spoke to them.

      Reserved a table at the Grotto pool at Loftin's, expecting it to be a magical location. On arriving, the host asked if we had been contacted to be told they now had a wedding reception in the Grotto pool area. Not a great start. They seated us at a table right by the entrance on the patio area between the house and the street. You are only separated from the mayhem that is Ocean Drive by that black steel gate, on a narrow patio area, and you are really only on the fringes of the property. The wife was not best pleased – and the venue was a surprise. We didn’t even sit down, and so they moved us to another table on the patio where we would have had the pleasure of listening to Abba blasting from the wedding all night. At this stage we told them politely that this was not going to work for this special occasion of ours and that we were leaving. At this point, (I assume) the manager stepped in and told us he would seat us in the members only restaurant as he really wanted us to have a good anniversary. This sounded exciting, I imagined us dining next to the likes of Angelina and Brad J While the room was pretty, there was no on else in there which made it pretty sterile. They quickly brought us an amuse bouche, but we had already decided to leave as again the atmosphere was just not what we were looking for. Again the manager quickly stepped in – I think he was half-expecting us not be happy in an empty dining room – and told us to have same champagne in the bar while they prepared a private table in the roof, where the hotel owner had his Valentines dinner. Again, how could we refuse? After about 15 minutes of sipping a very nice champagne, enter the manager to explain that the roof would not be suitable as the wedding music was too loud up there, however, they were going to seat us in one of their suites where they claimed Forrest Whittaker had stayed and had his anniversary dinner just a few weeks before.

      Wow, my longest post and I haven’t even got to the food yet! The room was really nice overlooking Ocean Drive and obviously in a Versace style, whatever that is? We also had two wait staff look after us the whole night. We decided to share the Watercress salad and follow that with the risotto trio. The salad was quite good, although the dressing was a little over seasoned for my liking, and not enough grapes. The risotto was a real hit, truffle, saffron and parmesan, with our favorites being in that order.

      Next, I had the filet and the missus had…I actually cannot remember which fish dish she had as she polished it off before I could taste. It was served on a salt block, which meant it was kept at a great temperature, and she loved it. My steak was good, but nothing special, and the mash was average. For dessert we ordered a banana pudding which left me totally underwhelmed, but to be fair, all the food we already had did not leave me with much of an appetite.

      So overall, an interesting experience, food ranged from average to excellent, service excellent – not sure would rush back despite the effort they made for us, although I would still like to see the grotto room!! Not sure if the effort they made to keep us there, which was appreciated, was because they felt bad, or a sign of the economy. One other thing that I found really amusing, the wait staff were excellent, but the guy kept referring to me as ‘gentleman’, e.g. ‘would you like some water gentleman?’…weird.

      Next day for lunch we had beach service at the Loews. One word…poor.

      Dinner was with my boss and wife (and baby in tow) at Escopazzo. The restaurant was not what I was expecting; not the nicest position, and not particularly attractive dining room, but it was small and quiet, perfect for our sleeping baby. It was late by the time he arrived (flying in from the UK) so we only got mains. I ordered the braised beef special, which again was merely above average. Would not go back, plenty more options.

      Next night took my boss and a client to Meat Market. This was the business dinner I had been asking for help with. Decided that Lincoln was the best option for the SoBe atmosphere, and we sat outside. Service was fairly good, people watching very good. Where do all the freaks, especially the ones with animals, come from? I started with the ravioli, which consisted of 1 large piece filled with a slightly sweet gourmandize cheese, and topped with some braised beef and arugula. This was good, perhaps a bit rich. Next up I had a small filet - can’t remember the sauce, think it was a red wine sauce, but do remember that with such a large selection being disappointed there was no garlic butter option. Steak was quite nice, but nothing special. No dessert. Overall, it was a good choice for the night, and a nice option for Lincoln.

      Next day took a client and my wife to Casa Tua for lunch. Had not been here before and did not know what to expect. I really liked the homely yet elegant dining room, although it was very quiet in there (only one other table). Started by sharing a salad, which I did not enjoy - guess I am not really a salad guy. Followed this with 3 pastas to share – a risotto, ravioli and penne. They did a really nice job of serving us, by splitting all three amongst us at the table. The service overall was excellent, best we received in SoBe. The pasta was excellent, by far the best technique of any of the food we had in the trip, but interestingly not all the flavors worked so well together. Overall though, the best meal we had and my client emailed me the last week to tell me how much she enjoyed it there.

      That night went with a group of 7 to Table 8 – we couldn’t find an eight person J. Restaurant was only 1/3rd full, again not sure if this is a sign of the times or a reflection the actual restaurant. The space is beautiful, lots of different areas, and despite the lack of fellow diners, we generated a really good ambiance. Shared a bunch of appetizers, including the infamous grilled cheese sandwich. Thought it was very good, but personally preferred the Kobe sliders. Had duck for my main, and really enjoyed, nice mix of flavors and really well prepared. Overall, everyone really seemed to enjoy the meal. Oh… and while not an extensive wine list, seemed reasonably priced. Don’t get why it wasn’t busier here.
      After that was forced to go to Mango’s to meet some industry colleagues -wife had no interest and I don’t blame her – why do out-of-towners insist on going here? Totally unappealing. Did go to a couple of good bars during the trip: Shore Club and the bar on the roof of the Gansevoort being the standouts.

      Next day a quick and inexpensive lunch at Tiramisu on Lincoln before heading back to Fort Lauderdale. So, had a really good range of dining experiences in SoBe. Overall, it did nothing to change my perception of it being generally average and over priced, but still managed to have some good meals, and was happy with the selections I made for the two meals I was asking for help with.

      2 Replies
      1. re: mrmagee
        r
        rockysobe Apr 2, 2009 11:26 AM

        I've said it before but I really like that salt block fish at Loftins, it's a shame the wife was so selfish!

        1. re: rockysobe
          m
          mrmagee Apr 2, 2009 01:16 PM

          she is just a bloody fast eater, and we had been waiting a while to eat!!
          when they said the salt block was 200million years old, I felt like winding them up with a creationist joke about the world only being about 5/6000 years old.

      2. Blind Mind Mar 11, 2009 08:01 PM

        tpigeon - no plug for Sardinia? Im blown away! This would be good for either occasion and is of relative walking distance though a short cab ride would probably be much easier. More proof that someone has stolen your CH identity...

        I too am planning a date night at Loftins based on a few solid recommendations but that wont be for a few weeks so I cant really comment. Good review here though...

        http://allpurposedark.blogspot.com/20...

        Another resto that sure had its legion of followers here on CH was Table 8 but I havent heard any blurbs about it in ages. I thought the food was simple. Good but really simple. Pretty quiet inside from what I remember too. I find Quattro to be vastly overrated and pricey. Meat Market was great when I went there but it definitely was loud. Only been once so not sure of the consistency there.

        Talula is a fave on this board too and though I have yet to go its on my short list for later this month.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Blind Mind
          t
          tpigeon Apr 2, 2009 03:27 AM

          I like sardinia a lot. But, while it is nice there it is not my first choice for impressing the boss, girlfriend or wife.

        2. m
          mrmagee Mar 6, 2009 09:06 PM

          Prime 112 - $15 for French Onion soup!!! It better be the best french onion soup in the world!!!

          7 Replies
          1. re: mrmagee
            t
            tpigeon Mar 7, 2009 04:55 AM

            I did not read the noise reqirement prime is pretty loud. Quattro is at least as expensive as prime 112 when you consider portion sizes. Not sure what is offending you so much about the pricing when you would have eaten at quattro.

            I would do talula with the boss given your requirements (you didn't say food was a priority before and it is less noisy than other places).

            For your romantic dinner go to creek 28.

            1. re: tpigeon
              m
              mrmagee Mar 10, 2009 11:54 AM

              hi tpigeon

              with Quattro, i didn't end up eating there last time, so wasn't familiar with their prices, and hadn't got as far as checking as I had ruled it out for the aforementioned reasons.

              creek28 looks nice, but doesn't look like it is walking distance.

              someone else had suggested loftin's at casa casuarina - anyone been there?
              or perhaps maison d'azur with their new set menu?

              1. re: mrmagee
                r
                rockysobe Mar 10, 2009 12:16 PM

                I've been to loftin's and highly recommend it. the place is obviously beautiful but food and service were awesome too.

                1. re: rockysobe
                  m
                  mrmagee Mar 11, 2009 06:55 AM

                  having checked, I didn’t realize how far Wish was from the Loews (not easy walking distance in heals) - perhaps better for my business dinner.

                  So then I was thinking that Loftin’s would be perfect, but my wife thinks it might be too showy - translated into English this is ‘i just had a baby and don’t want to put a dress on that might not fit’. any comment?

                  if she won’t go for that, someone suggested iCorsini - has anyone been - care to comment on the food?

                  otherwise i think we are down to Maison D’Azur or Blue Door, which might be a bit of a cop out, but they do have the fixed price menu’s. which would you choose from these?

                  1. re: mrmagee
                    t
                    tpigeon Mar 11, 2009 11:48 AM

                    I have not been to maison since they moved but it was very good when I went in its earlier incarnation -- better than blue door.

                    What about talula? You may also want to try the grill at the setai. I have not been in a long time but I have heard it is not too bad.

                    I Corsini is further from you than wish btw.

                    I Corsini had some pretty serious service issues when I went. I agree with an earlier comment that having the bus and waiters wear the same clothes adds to the confusion. The food is good there but it falls short of sardinia for the most part -- desserts match sardinia though.

                    1. re: tpigeon
                      m
                      mrmagee Mar 11, 2009 01:59 PM

                      ok, looked at iCorsini, but like you said would probably need a taxi there, which I would rather not do (like the freedom to walk about).

                      so I phoned The Setai as the menu was not on their website (it was for The Restaurant) and they said The Grill room is closed for ‘the season’ although this is the season, so I’m thinking they couldn’t be doing so well. Anyway, I enquired about their set-menu, and they said it is $55 and if we don’t like it, they could craft a menu for us using something from the main menu. Sounds good, although shows how tough the times are.

                      Now leaning towards Loftin’s (they were really nice on the phone and said they could seat us by the Grotto pool) but will post back when I get the menu from The Setai.

                      1. re: mrmagee
                        Frodnesor Mar 11, 2009 03:59 PM

                        "closed for the season"? It IS the season. That's rich. Too bad, though, they'd recently redone the menu for the Grill and it looked pretty interesting. The Restaurant's menu has also been intriguing but extremely pricy (and thus I've never tried). If they're doing a prix fixe, they should get the word out. The Setai's online menu is here ->
                        http://www.setai.com/assets/File/TheRestaurantNewMenu2008.pdf

                        Particularly if you're looking to stay on the north end of South Beach in walking range from the Loews, I'd strongly consider Talula particulalry for your business meal. It's mellower than most SoBe places and you'll be able to have a conversation. It's also somewhat more modestly priced than some of the highest-end South Beach places (which in these times I think both bosses and clients respect).

                        I have not eaten at Loftin's but the location is beautiful and unique and would probably be great for a romantic dinner. Just tell the Mrs. she looks beautiful no matter what she wears.

                        I ate a couple times at Maison d'Azur before it moved from the Angler's Resort to the Hotel Astor - the food was pretty good, some things better than others. I've always liked the Astor, it's a great room. Probably also a decent option for either business or romantic dinner - though I've not revisited since the move.

                        The outdoor seating at Wish is nice but I can't tell you much about the food as there have been several chef changes since I've been.

                        www.foodforthoughtmiami.com

          2. m
            mrmagee Mar 6, 2009 09:04 PM

            Thanks so much for your suggestions / comments. I have a couple of questions:

            Wish - not romantic? The reviews I had read really gave me the impression it was. I had already booked this so now having second thoughts :( Maybe it would be better for my business dinner.

            Casa Tua - think it is too expensive, especially if the food is not that good?

            Quattro - did consider it, but had a bad experience once being late for our reservation and when we got there they were extremely snotty and would not give us a table. Still as I said, I did consider it, but the comments at zagat.com were not complementary. have you eaten there?

            Prime 112 - is this going to be too loud? Plus, my boss doesn't eat meat, and although I know they do fish, not sure he would be impressed with me taking him to a steak place.

            1. t
              tpigeon Mar 6, 2009 04:25 PM

              Casa tua is probably the best place to impress the boss and is also the most romantic but not the best food.

              I would do Prime 112/Prime italian for business and Casa for romantic.

              1. s
                SophiaKitchenCaravan Mar 6, 2009 01:56 PM

                I have been in Miami for 5 weeks and will share my two cents. The Delano could work either for Business or Date night. I think it would impress your boss and client, as it is classic Miami style. Quattro would also be a good option for that. It is expensive, but also on Lincoln, so you get the "show" aspect too.
                Wish is not romantic enough in my opinion, so I would not suggest that for your special night out with your wife. I have not eaten in Escopazzo, but the decor is nice and it does look romantic, so that might be a good option for you.

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