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New York Hound Not Fooling Around

guttergourmet Feb 10, 2010 01:22 AM

OK my fellow Miami hounds.Anyone who knows me from the Manhattan board knows I'm deadly serious about my chow. I have reservations next week for Scarpetta (I know Scott Conant personally),Hakkasan, OLA, Sra.Martinez, Michael'a Genuine, Azul and plan to hit Joe's Stone Crab. I have 2 questions. Is Michy's also a "Not to be missed" choice? Also, where can one find the best cubano, media noche, fritas, croquetas, bistek empanizado, flan, batidos, etc. In town? Mrs. GG is Cuban born and bred. Thanks for your help.

  1. ankimo Apr 9, 2010 02:32 AM

    since i only travel back to miami now occasionally after having explored a lot for a couple years, the places i think about and return to are:
    NAOE, my #1 south florida restaurant
    Enriqueta's for my favorite cuban sandwich
    El Palacio de los Jugos for a Guanabana Juice
    El Brazo Fuerte for cheap salchichas and other cuban pastries
    Morro Castle for a cuban frita
    as for Michy's, I'd go back for dessert...but if i were coming from nyc, i would spend my time eating latin stuff (i.e. peruvian, nica, el salvadorian, colombian superhamburguesa, etc.)

    -----
    NAOE
    175 Sunny Isles Boulevard, Sunny Isles Beach, FL 33160

    1. guttergourmet Mar 16, 2010 01:44 PM

      Sra. (Senora) Martinez is the married name of the vibrant celebrity chef Michelle Bernstein. Among her many accomplishments, Michelle has bragging rights from her Iron Chef victory over Bobby Flay and was credited by Alex Raij as the inventor of the paradigm shifting uni panini at El Quinto Pino. I had last sampled Michelle's brilliant Asian Latin fusion at Azul several years ago before she had struck out on her own with her husband to create Michy's and, more recently, Sra. Martinez. Located in a converted post office in the super cool Miami design district, Sra. Martinez is Michelle's own vision of a tapas bar. Start out with superb embutido such as jamon iberico and cantimpalo. Croquetas were more manchego than jamon. Artichokes were tender tempura fried with a lemon coriander aioli sauce. Bacon wrapped dates were helped by the Valdeon blue cheese stuffing. The fabulous egg yolk "carpaccio" was a barely cooked yolk somehow flattened and spread over the entire dish on top of which was plated tiny sweet shrimp and shoestring potatos. The butifarra, a home-made foie gras-duck sausage, was sliced on a long dish and alternated with gigantic white beans in a port wine reduction and left me wishing for more. The Asian influence was apparent in two subsequent dishes: the uni risotto (Michelle's own version of the uni sandwich was sadly missing the night I was there) and the roasted bone marrow with barbecued eel. The uni risotto was excellent, reminiscent of the one at Bar Masa, though the lightly cooked calamari in a chimichurri sauce that topped it was a distraction though not displeasing as it somehow reminded me texturally and visually of eels. The bone marrow, split with tons of beautiful gelatinous marrow and covered with minced bbq eel, was conceptually intriguing but suffered from the addition of an equal amount of sweet minced apples and a sour apple soy butter. Extremely rich tasting but a little incongruous although a daring pairing in the way that Michael White successfully matched uni with lardo and lobster with buratta. Ended the meal with the most authentic churros outside of Spain with a chocolate chipotle dipping sauce. Keep an eye on Michelle Bernstein, she is capable of culinary genius.

      2 Replies
      1. re: guttergourmet
        Frodnesor Mar 16, 2010 03:02 PM

        Glad you liked it. Chef Bernstein doesn't actually go by the name "Señora Martinez" though hubby and partner is indeed David Martinez (Mrs. F didn't actually take my last name either).

        The artichokes are not tempura or otherwise battered, just rolled in a little cornmeal, as the chef corrected me too on that point->
        http://www.foodforthoughtmiami.com/20...

        I actually like the apple in the marrow & eel dish - it'd be a mighty heavy dish between the rich marow and rich eel otherwise, and I like the echo of textures between the eel and the sautéed apple.

        1. re: guttergourmet
          t
          tpigeon Mar 16, 2010 07:30 PM

          I agree she has some great stuff but I have to say Miami has no equal to the very best nyc has to offer.

        2. m
          morganeats Feb 16, 2010 07:45 AM

          palacio de los jugos is delicious and an experience worth having. I prefer to go there for lunch rather than dinner bc of the atmosphere. I would way way way prefer Michys to sra. Martinez. I have lived in spain and have eaten many tapas and can honestly tell you that her tapas are sub-par, not so authentic and extremely overpriced... many of my local friends who have gone will agree with me. Cool decor though. Hakkasan is supposed to be great but for the price (and considering the chinese food you get in nyc) I would def agree with Frod and tell you to go to Talula, even my worst meal there was better than most any restaurant in miami. Also, Clarkes on sobe has an awesome burger. Azul used to be great but Ive heard rumors that it has slipped in the past few years, may want to check the local boards on that...

          1 Reply
          1. re: morganeats
            j
            Joe Foodie Feb 22, 2010 04:06 AM

            for any serious diner on South Beach- Talula is a must- I ate there for the first time after a few months- its still excellents. Meat Market was excellent the last time I was there (about 10 moths ago)- after that I really dont know what to tell anyone about South Beach- Frod is right- what is good is typically defined as what is shiny and new- Miami diners and South Beach goers tend to flock towards the brightest spot- not necessarily the best spot. I had some tapas including the cassoulet and spicy shrimp and grouper for dinner and was completely happy- we ordered a bottle of Laetitia Pinot Noir for $40. Talula is my call New York Foodies!

          2. steve h. Feb 15, 2010 05:10 PM

            Howdy GG,
            Just back from Miami after a short visit during the boat show. Here are some short takes on three of your reservations:
            Michael's is a hoot. Indoors is better if you require attentive service, outdoors is really cool if you prefer a leisurely meal (gas-fired heaters pitch in if temps fall too far). Very good wine selection, the rabbit pate is very good.
            Sra Martinez is a pitching wedge from Michael's. It's an interesting room (old post office). The head-on shrimp are quite good, the egg yolk carpaccio was a disaster (sorry, Bruni). Overall, the food is quite good, service friendly. I'd go back.
            Scarpetta is everything the mother ship is and more. You'll recognize the menu immediately. The room, however, is a stunner. Our table was smack dab in the center of the enormous picture window that overlooks the Atlantic. Somehow, staff managed to conjure a full-blown tropical storm, complete with lightning, while we were dining. It was a memorable meal. Service was truly outstanding. Conant has to be proud of his new shop and the wonderful people he has running the place/representing him.
            Enjoy your stay in Miami.

            1. t
              tpigeon Feb 10, 2010 06:44 AM

              I think the cuban is better in ny btw sorry to disappoint

              you should go to graziano's on bird rd for argentinian steak instead

              michy's is not to be missed. save room for dessert the baked alaska is the best thing on the menu.

              make sure you get the cremoso at michaels genuine.

              you should go to naoe and hiro's yakko san

              Generally you will find the food here a step below the very best ny has to offer except perhaps for joes stonecrab -- can't beat their stone crab or killer king crab claws and key lime pie in ny, hiro's yakko san (great authentic japanese food at great prices), naoe (not quite as good as yasuda but very darn good) and grazianos (probably the best argentinian steakhouse in the country).

              I know you are a fan of burgers so you should try B&B get their mac & cheese too with truffle oil on it -- pretty good stuff. I'd be interested in how you rate them to ny places.

              hakkasan is overpriced but very good. you should do dim sum lunch which is less overpriced (but still overpriced).

              Other cheap options for lunch or dinner
              Alibi (cheese steak) --- dinner only opens at 5

              martarello (go for lunch do not miss the bombolino's with cream)

              the spot makes some really good po boy's

              mirago -- all their food is good (except mac &cheese which is not worth getting) but the bbq pork sandwich might be the best on the beach...

              4 Replies
              1. re: tpigeon
                Blind Mind Feb 10, 2010 08:47 AM

                No Sardinia recommendation? Who are you and what have you done with tpigeon?

                I add that Michy's is a bit more quiet compared to Sra Martinez which has much more going on. I'd also recommend Red Light but I will caution you that waiting for your food can sometimes be an exercise in patience. Tip - sit at the bar. Youll still be waiting but maybe not as long. Another interesting place to check out would be Tap Tap, a Haitian restaurant on Miami Beach. They do some great goat dishes there and its a nice bang for your buck. I'd also look into Talula on Miami Beach and if you have to or want to do steak, Meat Market on Lincoln Rd.

                1. re: Blind Mind
                  t
                  tpigeon Feb 10, 2010 12:38 PM

                  he is from ny. steak is ill advised. talula is a good rec and belongs right up there with op's original list. I like tap tap but IMirago is better -- mirago is dominican but they are more consistent foodwise than tap tap.

                  Wanted to stay away from italian because he is from ny also he is going to scarpetta already.

                  1. re: tpigeon
                    j
                    jessierandall Feb 15, 2010 06:22 PM

                    It pains me to say this but I had dinner at Talula twice recently and was disappointed both times. We were one of only a few diners in the restaurant and though the service was lovely, the food was overspiced, the fish seemed less than fresh and the place generally lacked zing. Again, it breaks my heart to say this because Talula was always one of my go to places for a quality meal.

                    There are much better places to go in Miami

                    1. re: jessierandall
                      Frodnesor Feb 16, 2010 07:11 AM

                      Obviously opinions differ, so this is not an attack but just another opinion. I've been back to Talula recently as well, multiple times, and had no sense at all that the food has slipped. I like the new tapas section of the menu, especially whatever sous chef Kyle's tapa of the week may be. It is not busy, but I think that has more to do with the attraction of many SoBe diners to the latest shiny object, rather than the food.

                      Another recent experience from a SoBe visitor is more in line with mine ->
                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6869...

                      I still doubt there are many better places to go in South Beach.

              2. Frodnesor Feb 10, 2010 05:30 AM

                Sra. Martinez and Michy's are the same chef (Michelle Bernstein) but obviously not identical menus. Michy's approach is to offer almost every dish in 1/2 or full portions, and the food is perhaps more global in scope than Sra. M, though there is also a good bit of "comfort foods" (fried chicken, braised short ribs, steak frites). Sra. Martinez is more strictly a Spanish tapas place, though the influences there also include Latin America with occasional broader forays (i.e. kalbi short ribs). There are some dishes I really like at each of them. I'd suggest reviewing the menus and seeing if you feel the need to visit both; they're both very good ->
                http://chefmichellebernstein.com/

                I know Miami has lots of Cuban food, but to me it's frankly somewhat difficult to distinguish any leaders of the pack. Many are decent, none are really exceptional. My favorite sandwich is the pan con lechon at Enriquetas, where they do a good cubano as well. Burger Beast recommends the fritas at El Mago de las Fritas, and I trust he has an informed opinion ->
                http://www.burgerbeast.com/2009/07/trifecta-miami-frita-crawl.html

                I'd also suggest a visit to El Palacio de los Jugos.

                But it's not exactly like this board is lacking for discussion of "best Cuban" food - here's a good thread that spans several years and has been recently updated ->
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/132580

                www.foodforthoughtmiami.com

                8 Replies
                1. re: Frodnesor
                  taiga Feb 10, 2010 10:32 AM

                  Frod is the king of this board with great deserved respect, but going to El Palacio de los Jugos instead of Versailles is debatable.

                  We all agree that Versailles is not a culinary palace, but the palace of juices is often like a flea market/trash can with awful looking produce and lots of what would pass as Cuban carnival food. I like the place, but not for the food.

                  1. re: taiga
                    m
                    mikek Feb 10, 2010 01:02 PM

                    I actually prefer the food at El Palacio as well, as do many of my Cuban friends. Half of the time the food at Versailles is brought out at a lukewarm temperature. I would also say that the two have VERY different roles in dining, as you hinted at.

                    1. re: mikek
                      taiga Feb 12, 2010 08:26 AM

                      This pains me to say so, as it is troubling, but my poorer Cuban friends and my working class Central American associates prefer El Palacio. Versailles is much more "socially" acceptable, and I have never had the lukewrm issue though I don't dispute it. I've been to both dozens of times; I prefer Versailles. If my down and dirty homies wanted to eat after playing ball and before showering on a Saturday afternoon, I'd take them to El Palacio and throw down happily. My wife hates it and is far from an elitist, but it's often filthy and the customers could care less. Of course, I've been in some kitchens ...

                    2. re: taiga
                      Frodnesor Feb 10, 2010 07:57 PM

                      (blushing) I thought of Palacio de los Jugos mostly b/c OP mentioned batidos. For everything else I'm really not sure any one place stands out above others. I mean, I like Sazon, but that's just because it's close to me in North Beach when I'm in the mood for Cuban food.

                      I'm pretty sure the original owner of Latin American Cafeteria, Luis Galindo, has opened one or two new "Latin Americans" out in west Miami.

                      I will also second the recommendations of Naoe, Yakko-San and Talula. Graziano's, too, though not quite in the same league for me (maybe just a matter of personal preference).

                    3. re: Frodnesor
                      guttergourmet Feb 10, 2010 12:57 PM

                      Plan on going back to El Mago, I've been before. Drooling over videos on you tube of El Palacio and planning to hit Enriqueta's. What about the original Lario's vs. Lario's on the Beach? Also, can someone put me out of my misery and confirm once and for all that Latin American Cafeteria has closed all locations? That was my old time go to place.

                      1. re: Frodnesor
                        guttergourmet Mar 16, 2010 01:34 PM

                        I've always wondered whether a chef, even an incredible chef, can maintain quality across multiple restaurants particularly if the kitchens are geographically remote from each other. I've been a huge fan of Scott Conant going back to his days at L'Impero. The spaghetti pomodoro was comfort food to the nth power. Jeff is so fond of it that I've seen him order it for dessert. My favorite? The capretto-one of the few dishes missing from the menu at the Fontainebleau. Having eaten at the opening of Scarpetta New York and overdosing on Scott's creamy polenta with fricasee of truffled mushrooms at The James Beard House where the frequent Chopped judge was right at home, I was amazed at the consistency of quality between New York and Miami. The tuna "susci" and hamachi were good as always as was a special of toro and uni. Mozzarella in carrozza underwhelmed but the frito misto and braised short rib in faro risotto were outstanding. Duck and foie gras ravioli were clones of the ones I'd had in NYC as was the signature spaghetti. A veal chop accompanied by sweetbreads was over the top. And though I almost ordered another spaghetti pomodoro for dessert, the chocolate hazelnut coated nutella filled zeppole were too good to pass up. I guess a chef can maintain quality without always being in the kitchen (Scott was enjoying his first born baby girl before his mandatory appearance at the Food Network Food Festival). And the capretto? They said they were putting it on the menu...as soon as they could find a local supplier matching the quality of the one in New York.

                        1. re: guttergourmet
                          Frodnesor Mar 16, 2010 01:41 PM

                          They had the capretto on the menu when they first opened

                          1. re: guttergourmet
                            t
                            tpigeon Mar 16, 2010 07:29 PM

                            yeah but their spaghetti white clams and their polenta dipped in their sausage bread is the best they got...

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