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Mar 31, 2009 12:40 PM

Looking for Miami (SoBe) dinner recommendations for wife's 30th b-day

My wife and i are going to be in Miami at the end of April to celebrate her 30th birthday. We are staying in South Beach, so we ideally we don't want to venture too too far from where we are staying, but if the food is worth it, we'll go anywhere really.

We are here for 2 night and since this is a special occasion, i want to take her to places that not only have great food (but that is the most important), but are great experiences as well. It is her 30th b-day, so i want to take her somewhere that she'll remember!

We are coming from NYC and are pretty immersed in the "going out all the time spending all our money at restaurants" lifestyle. We tend to skew towards the more innovated / new on the block types, but always go out for the food rather than the scene.

So I guess i am wondering if anyone on this board has any suggestions where a couple of 30 year old kids like us should go to celebrate!

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  1. I recently dined at Barton G's which is on the lower west side of Miami Beach.....5 minutes from SoBe....This restaurant has taken some knocks....But I ate there a week or so ago with 7 friends that are bona-fide foodies....and we had a very, very nice meal.......Their specialized martinis at the bar were crazy expensive but fun to drink for a special occasion........Our group tried a myriad of dishes and we like to share.....The only disappointing dish was the sea bass...which was good....just not great.....From there...we had great success with the 2lb. Aussie Lobster Tail which was awesome....Their bone-in, Florida-raised rib-eye steak was extremely tender and flavorful......The whole fried snapper was large and tasty.....The swordfish was cooked correctly and delicious.....Overall the food was very, very good......The presentation of the food is absolutely over the top and ideal for a festive birthday outing......The only rocks I could throw was times...the service seemed a little discombobulated.....and it got a little warm in the restaurant......But they were not major issues.......and we would go back......

    Again...this restaurant has taken some a bit pricey....but the food was very, very good.....The presentation alone was worth the trip (the swordfish is served off a real sword!)......And the place is PACKED every night.....for some reason or other.....Would suggest reservations......


    6 Replies
    1. re: LargeLife

      I would not do barton if food is important. I would do talula and joes stone crab.

      1. re: tpigeon

        Tpigeon......I I see we've been butting heads here on BGs......Have you actually been to BartonGs?......What was so wrong there for you?....I'm genuinely curious to know why you feel the way you do?.....For the record I was very hesitant about going to BartonGs because of some other business issues that swirl around the flamboyant caterer.....But I went with real foodies and of the 7 meals orders.....6 were was just OK (the seabass).......The 2lb. Aussie lobster tail that I munched on was unbelievable!......The presentation was amazing and it delited and amazed everyone there.....

        I haven't been to Talulah yet and I'm looking forward to that trip.....Joe's has always been at the top of my list.....I've been there 3 times this season and each time has been a delite.....Highly recommend as well.......

        But back to brass tacks....What made your experience at BartonG's so regrettable??



        1. re: LargeLife

          You asked for it (actually not from me, but still) ...

          I ate at Barton G a year or two ago b/c some friends insisted on it for a birthday celebration. I found that it was all about the presentation at the expense of the food. A "sashimi snowcone" had horribly butchered, near inedible fish, which stuck to the shaved ice of the "snowcone". A duck dish (served in a decoy) was tough, rubbery and salty, and the fried rice tasted like something from the frozen foods aisle. The only thing I enjoyed was a "Millionaire's Baked Potato" stuffed with lobster and caviar in addition to the usual fixins. They refused to permit any corkage even though their wine list is hardly encyclopedic, just vastly overpriced. I left feeling completely ripped off. I could have had better food at Cheesecake Factory and paid about 1/3 as much.

          The shame of it is that it is a beautiful physical space with a great history, going back to the 1920's when it was an Italian restaurant called Gatti's. More recently, but before Barton G, there was actually briefly a wonderful restaurant there run by Kerry Simon called "Starfish."

          Hate to be such a negbag but I really didn't like it. But I can understand why it's busy. It's a beautiful location, the presentations are very showy, and the atmosphere is very festive.

          1. re: Frodnesor

            As you know Frod....I respect your opinion.....And I respect tpigeon's too......Maybe we hit the place on a lucky night!!......6 out the 7 of us were pretty fortunate I guess as our meals were memorable.....We liked the atmosphere and the folks in our party know good food.....Everybody there seemed to be having a great time.....We all did.....Maybe it was just our nigh......Thanks for your thoughts......


          2. re: LargeLife

            Their seared tuna is good and so is their mac & cheese - both are overpriced the mac and cheese horribly so. I used to eat there often, not by choice...

            1. re: tpigeon

              Forgot about the onion soup. Very good and not terribly expensive.

      2. Joe's is always on the list for occasions.

        Not that the food is necessarily innovative but I think OP might like Casa Tua (on the terrace) for a very nice experience. I know Casa Tua is another one that has been contested here on the boards as overpriced but I did have a great and special meal here. Clearly going to the way other end of the spectrum from the circus like experience at Barton G...

        Haven't been yet but what about Casa Casarina (Versace mansion) ? I bet she wouldn't forget that...

        1 Reply
        1. re: dmo305

          Casa Tua is beautiful but the food just aint special

        2. I recently did a lot research for my anniversary dinner and ended up at Casa Casuarina. While the food was good, it wasn't spectacular, and the ambiance definitely depends on which area you are seated in. We were well looked after - a different story that I need to find time to post - but I didn't think the place was particularly memorable, its really just the idea of eating in the Versace mansion.

          My recommendation would be The Forge. Actually went there for my 29th, a few years ago, and it is truly a place for special occasions. Just sent someone there for their 50th and they loved it. It is a 5 minute cab from SoBe and totally worth it. Fantastic food and ambiance, and totally an experience. It is as far from a new kid on the block as you can get, but still the best option for what you are looking for.

          1. I think Barton G's is all about the ambience, the party festive experience. The food though is decent - yet the fun is all about the presentation. Most people truly enjoy going there and just having a good time. That being said - there are few mindblowing food experiences in Miami for out of towners - if you are from places like downtown Chicago, New York, for example(plus the over the top pricing for restaurants they are way better back home is frustrating). I think if is better to go for more of a pretty setting, a fun time. I completely agree that for a young couple wanting to celebrate a special occasion, Barton G's fits the bill. Just enjoy the tropical atmosphere and be serious foodies once back in NYC.

            1. Barton G was my original choice for my 30th birthday however I was unable to get reservations for my large party on the particular night I wanted to go. It came highly recommended by people who had really enjoyable experiences there. Even if it is not the absolute best food in all of SoBe, the atmosphere of the restaurant should be important too. A 30th birthday is something to celebrate and a time to have fun!

              7 Replies
              1. re: nmurawsk

                If you idea of fun is overpriced gimmicky food, more power to you.

                1. re: tpigeon

                  My idea of fun is not taking myself too seriously - like Barton G does with their food. Why can't sashami be served in a snow cone, lobster pastry served in a toaster or desert be considered the largest cone of cotton candy anyone has ever seen?

                  1. re: nmurawsk

                    They take the bill very seriously at Barton G. Count on that...

                    1. re: tpigeon

                      totally agree with tpigeon. have lived in south Florida for 5 years and had heard a lot of hype about Barton G. Finally went towards the end of last year with in-laws who were visiting from London. was totally embarrassed...the food was at best average, the bill was horrendous. with these two factors, the presentation came across as purely a gimmick.

                      tpigeon, what say ye about the Forge for this 30th bday?

                      1. re: mrmagee

                        I have not been to the forge in a while because of all the steak houses that opened in south beach but had great meals there all the time except once (which was years ago and have had great meals since). The room itsef is uniqe. For real fun go there on a Wednesday.

                        Rating it against the competition, I think that it is the equal of P112 food wise (much better steak P112 wins on other food options so as a steakhouse it is superior).

                        1. re: tpigeon

                          You see, tpigeon...we can agree on something. My wife loved the French Onion soup! I've been to Casa Tua once and our experience while not over the top was positive. Liked the recommendation of Creek28 as that's a fun place to go and the food was very, very good. Have to get to The Forge.


                          1. re: LargeLife

                            Re: BartonG, I think hollys said it best. Been there twice. Loved the show, and our food really wasn't bad. The steaks were fine. Went to the Forge a couple trips back. I think there are better steakhouses in Miami. Certainly the rib eye at Sardinia beat anything the Forge served all to hell. As for 30th birthday suggestions, why not Prime 112?