Sardinia, Indomania, Talula... recommendations?
I have reserved the above mentioned restaurants for my up-coming trip to Miami. Everything looks so good on their menus, so I am calling in the experts. I would like the opinion of Chowhounders on what to choose for an unforgetable meal at each of these places.
Guessing you meant "unforgettable"??!!! Our favorite at Sardinia has frequently (almost always) been their sweetbreads, to the point that we are scared to order them, thinking that they won't be as good as the last time, but they always have been. Thanks to Frod's review we went and had a great risjaffel (sp) at Indomania the other night. Very small, un-South Beach restaurant, but a great experience. Haven't been to Talula recently, but am sure that you will have no problem with further recs from there!
Sardinia - I like most of their antipasti - the veggies (brussel sprouts w/ guanciale, beets w/ pancetta, caponata - but not the asparagus, which is boring), salumi and cheeses; the fregoletta w/ clams, the steamed cockles; the spaghetti w/ tuna bottarga; the prawn and fregola stew. There's much else that I've not tried there, but I haven't had too many misses. Didn't love the rabbit; thought the suckling pig was only OK.
Indomania - it's tough to resist getting the biggest one, the Sumatra, for an extra $4/pp and getting to try about 4 additional items. It's all good, though, if you like that kind of food. Probably still plenty if you do one of the lower-priced rijsttafels. I would definitely do a rijsttafel rather than order a la carte in any event.
Talula - I really like their scallop app; the new tapas menu has some great things (anything involving their in-house charcuterie ought to be good); they do a good caesar salad and tuna tartare; the soups are always fabulous; there are only a couple pasta dishes (one w/ home-made sausage and broccoli rabe, the other a parsnip ravioli topped w/ braised short rib), I've had them both and they're both delicious (can get as a half order which is a hearty appetizer); steaks there are excellent; pork chop is very good; lamb rack also (though the last version of this the accompaniments still needed some tweaking); Mrs. F did not love the octopus last time she had it, was swimming in oil, but otherwise have not had many misses there.
I would do creek 28 over indomania btw. Indomania is good though, it is just that creek 28 is better.
If you are a steak fan it is difficult to recommend anything else but the ribeye at sardinia and the tomohawk at talula. If you were to choose one I would go with sardinia. Only order it when the restaurant is not full though.
Other stuff I would order at sardinia:
App: Ask if the burratta (a special often available) is fresh or if they got it more than 1 day ago. If its fresh go for it. If you get the burrata, you could also get 3 veggies. Sprouts, Onions, and Beets are the best. If you don't get the burrata, I would go 3 cheeses and/or 3 meats and 3 veggies. The cheeses and meats are great and I have no real preference except perhaps for the boar sausage so go with what you like on these. The aforementioned sweetbreads are also great and have a little onion and sprouts with them too so it is another very strong option.
Another special app that you should pay attention to is tuna tartare - this is done extremenly well here so get it if they offer it.
Other dishes: You should always check the specials as they are often very good. If you are a fish fan, they often have an orata special that is quite a bit better than the branzino on the menu. Again, be careful about wood burning items if the place is packed. Not saying thing will go wrong, they probably won't , it is just more likely they will. Their seared tuna (I get it rare) is great when it is available as a special as well, also better than the branzino.
My favorite pasta dish is the spaghetti bortarga, followed by the orichette wild boar sausage, they often have a spagetti lobster on the menu which is great, but is high maintenance (comes with the shell), so I don't get it often. They often have a spaghetti sea urchin dish on the pasta menu too which is about as good (though very different) than the wild boar sausage.
The bacon scallops are a better choice than the aforementioned seafood fregola, but the seafood fregola stew is very good. I don't get the octopus much because it is generally too much octopus for me in the main course, but it is very good as well.
Your best bet here might be an off menu special if you don't order the ribeye. Assuming there are no specials and you are not going steak, I would do the following in this order:
Oxtail, lamb shank - like I said, be careful about wood burning if the place is packed.
If they have a special dessert, it is usually very good (they often have a "regular" tiramisu as a speciial which is great." Assuming you are going on menu only:
Millefogle - Heavy
Panacotta - Light
Duo Di Mousse - Heavy
Don't get any other desserts except for specials. They are not worth bothering. My favorite is the millefogle but it really depends on the mood I am in.
I am from the Tampa area and am visiting Miami this weekend for the Sonny Rollins Jazz concert at the Adrienne Arsht Center in downtown Miami. I am staying with my cousins who insist on taking me to Indomania for the Rijstaffel. They are world travelers (unfortunately I am a working man) and claim that Indomania is actually better than almost any Rijstaffel in Amsterdam.
My dilemma is that the restaurant opens at 6 pm and the concert is at 8 pm Saturday. I would probably have to leave the restaurant at 7:20-7:30 to make the concert on time.
What is the pacing of the rijstaffel there? Do they bring everything out at once or little by little. Do you think this is doable? They already made the reservation and just told me about it tonight. If not, any ideas for a moderate priced place near downtown Miami or Miami Beach?
Thanks a lot.
re: Robert R
Not Frod here, but hope this helps. Food comes out all at once. Concern is getting to the Arsht Center in 1/2 hour. You may be pushing it. By the time you leave the restaurant, cross the causeway, find parking, get to your seats may be a bit more than 1/2 hour. Then again things in Miami tend to start late, but if you're like me, I don't like to rush from my car into the venue and my seat in the nick of time.
re: Robert R
Ditto what L2M said - Indomania brings the food all at once and could probably turn you pretty easily in 1 1/2 hours but that'll be cutting it a wee bit close (I think it's doable but tight).
May be easier to dine on mainland side. Design District is about 20 blocks up form the Center and has Michael's Genuine, Sra. Martinez, Pacific Time, Brosia, Fratelli Lyon (listed in my order of preference). I've heard good things about Joey's Wynwood (Italian) as well though can't personally vouch for it.
Sonny Rollins - enjoy.
re: Robert R
If you try indomania, I would recommend you tell the restaurant in advance what you are doing before you arrive. You should tell them you want to order immediately and get the check with your dinner. If you are paying by credit card, then get the server or the owner over to pay for your meal immediately. Cash of course will be fastest if you don't need change.
This should give you enough time.
re: Robert R
Thanks everyone for all of the advice. I never made it to Indomania.
Instead, my cousins took me for Uruguayan Chivito at El Rey Del Chivito at 6987 Collins Ave, Miami Beach. They usually go to another branch further north that we found out just closed. The chivito was a really good sandwich, a hoagie type roll with thinly sliced beef and ham, oozing cheese and topped with a fried egg. It also had grilled onions and red peppers. My cousins had them bring the fries with garlic and parsley on them (perfectly crispy) One of them ordered the sandwich "emperador" which nearly doubled the price of the sandwich. The more expensive sandwich appeared the same size, but the beef was an actual piece of steak.
After leaving the Chivito place, it was off to see Sonny Rollins, a near octogenarian who can still blow a sax like it's 1956. He is one of the few jazz geniuses left. He doesn't walk as well as the last time I saw him about 15 years ago, but he was really remarkable.
This morning, my cousins took me to Tropical Chinese Restaurant at 7991 SW 40th St, Miami. They go there every few weeks. This place had the dim sum rolling carts in full gear, overflowing with food and choices and everything was piping hot (my biggest pet peeve is cold dim sum).
My favorite was the shrimp and leek dumpling, which was both soft and toothsome at the same time if that's possible. It was full of flavor.
They also ordered Crispy Roast Pork off the appetizer menu. This was essentially a pork cutlet julienne cut into wispy strips with a sweet full flavor. It arrived extremely hot right from the fryer. I enjoyed watching the other diners and saw that most people augmented off the regular menu.
My cousins feel that this place rivals some of the best places in NYC and Boston's Chinatowns.
Tropical certainly bested the two main cart places of Tampa Bay, TC Choy in Tampa and Halong Bay of St. Pete (not that those places are bad, but Tropical has the never ending carts constantly going by with all of the main choices) The owner also came by to ask us if we enjoyed our food and thanked us when we left. It was also fun to take some peeks into the kitchen window. I flat out love this place.
After we left, we stopped at a Cuban coffee window in the same strip plaza as the Tropical. There were two charming ladies who kidded us on our lack of Spanish. My cousin ordered his coffee dulce (sweet) but the coffee lady misheard this to mean 12 coffees. Luckily, we corrected her in the nick of time. I took the coffee on the rd and onto the Tamiami Trail and am already back in Tampa Bay.
It was a good time.
If it's not crowded when you go to Sardinia, get the ribeye. One of the best I've ever had, anywhere. I second Frod's nomination for the antipasti. I respectfully disagree w/the Senator from Florida when it comes to the suckling pig, however. I thought it was very good, a hearty portion, and better than one of the high end places here in Philadelphia, Osteria. And with that, I yield the floor.