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Mar 19, 2010 09:54 PM

A South Beach Visit - Places I ate and Places I hate

This is a review of a visit t see friends in SoBe during March Break. i ate with mates and then mates and their family and then my family.

Emerils at the Loews Hotel

From a service perspective I can honestly say that it was quite good, very attentive and immensely professional deserving of high marks, something I cannot say about the majority of the food.
It was a wobbly and very expensive experience for five adults, coming in at about $200 a pop.
With a couple of bottles of wine.
Let's start with the first surprise, which is the lack of anything that might be Nawlins style food. While I really don't know what that is I had certain expectations (where are the crayfish dishes, dirty rice, estoufade, alligator tails) and was sorely disappointed. The menu is pedestrian at best with execution that can only be called unbalanced. I start with the lobster gnocchi, that well known Nawlins favourite (yes) and I am immediately pleasantly surprised and horrified, soft pillowy gnocchi in a lobster cream sauce folded in with sweet lobster meat works nicely; however I immediately notice to my horror that someone's hair seems to have been an unrequested addition ( i am bald, i mean completely shaved head bald).

The very professional waiter removes my plate with apologies and in short order my dish is replaced with another. Quite tasty. My main is an 18oz bone in rib eye, which I order cooked medium rare. Two things disappoint on this tasty cut. They serve it to me very rare and they plaster it with gloopy sauces galore that hides the meats lovely flavour. So two strikes right there. We order sides including the ubiquitous truffle mac and cheese and the creamed spinach.
It’s completely uninspiring. Not that either should be inspiring necessarily; however to have 2 side dishes where you could not distinguish one from the other because they are not only served in similar dishes ; but represents a glutinous mess topped with layers of cheese so deep as to be challenging to slop out of the giant ramekins in which they are presented. All rather disappointing and what's with a 34 oz steak for $155 on the menu?
It says a lot about the lack of imagination of the restaurant and the menu in general. Give it a miss, you won't be missing anything. No forks of appreciation here. It’s expensive and the food is totally lacklustre and uninspiring. Actually if anything it’s no forking good. Sorry.

$$$$ 5 forks out of 10.

MEAT MARKET (Lincoln Road)

My host in SoBe wasn't sure if he should bring me to this spot, simply because he has had mixed experiences there; but he decided to chance it and I am glad though the outcome was as he had surmised.....mixed.
Three of us including another friend who works in Barbados sat down for dinner and started with a trio of shared appetisers as recommended. We had ceviche three ways, the Sockeye ceviche (though the very competent waiter mangled the name, that as Canadians we all looked at each other thinking for all these years we had mispronounced it and it was possibly Japanese)
Was incredibly fresh and very tasty and was served as a sashimi style ceviche. The blend of flavours while clever has some overpowering aspects in particular I thought the sesame seed oil (if I am not mistaken). The next one was the tuna, which was served in small cubes with an Asian influenced marinade which was quite delicious. The final ceviche was a more traditional style with lime etc in bit sized chunks, the fish if I remember correctly was dolphin and while from a texture standpoint quite delish was overcooked in the lime which seemed to be the primary takeaway. I had to take a large swig of my Albarino to get away from that one. Our main was an excellent steak served sliced for 3 ($68) and a good value. We also ordered lobster tails and their version of surf and turf, which was from the description 2 braised short ribs topped with snow crab meat. In my dear little head I had visions of two large bones with succulent fall away braised meat sitting astride each other with lashings of crab meat untop. Well while tasty it was a real disappointment, I suspect the shredded meat from the short rib while rather tasty was likely not even one full rib far less two. We enjoyed the meal. The service was flawless, the sommelier extremely good in his helpfulness and all round a good meal, though not an excellent one.
Would most definitely go back.

$$$$ 7 forks out of 10

Sushi Samba Dromo (Lincoln and Pennsylvania)

Being a lover of things Japanese and especially the use of other ingredients married with Japanese ones or a Japanese style applied for non Japanese ingredients, I was all up for the suggestion of dining with my buddies and one friend that was about to embark on a cruise from my Miami with his lovely daughters and wife.
I must say I was pleasantly surprised by my experience that when my son and wife joined me a couple of days later I took them there; but two very different experiences. A capable waiter with the right attitude can easily help ameliorate food not being up to what one might expect and that was so evident from 2 visits 3 nights apart.
On the Saturday night we sat outside and 5 adults and 2 kids dined and it was a wonderful experience. My three mates had previously eaten here and knew the drill, so they decided after much haranguing of moi, to go 7 course omakase, while I decided that the menu while overwhelming had a number of things that caught my eye, including the rock shrimp, the antichuros skewers of both beautifully marinated beef and delicious fish on Peruvian corn (its forking huge, the Peruvian corn that is, and has a slight sweetness and the texture of a boiled Yukon gold) and then my piece de resistance the Chilean sea bass marinated with miso That was cooked to perfection served with a few sautéed al dente vegetables and was a wonderful way to finish off my meal; but the beautiful marriage was the wonderful different plates that our waitress kept on selecting and bring to the table (which I naturally got to try in most instances- that tempura sisho leaf with the finely chopped and marinated tuna was quite divine). The food atmosphere and service was great and an enjoyable evening. Was had by all. With my wife and son coming in to meet me the next day - decided that I would treat them to dinner there on the Monday night and there-in lies the rub. The service from a balding and good looking and what I took to be a gay man was indifferent at best. The food wasn't as good though we enjoyed everything we ordered with the exception of the beef skewers and we finished of sharing the lovely sea bass with rather unusual coconut rice.
I would definitely go back.

$$$ 7 forks out of 10

Other places visited during my stay.

Larios on the beach.
Cuban influenced food. Relatively cheap and cheerful. Decent service and for what they provide. Two thumbs and 6 forks.

$$ - 6 forks out of 10

Big Pink on Collins and 2nd,

which I would have to say the jury is out. The service was indifferent on the two occasions we went for brunch (first occasion the waiter even wrote out for me what 18% tip equivalent was and what 20% was for indifferent service. Ha, farking cheek!). The food is ok to indifferent. My son who loves his burgers found his tasteless.
It’s convenient and you can order in and the menu is HUUGE and therein might be the problem I suspect; though the local Fire Marshals that frequent the place I suspect would not agree with me.

$ - jury is out with a tentative 4 forks out of 10

Smith & Wollenskys (at South Pointe)

We had to do steak; however walking back to our friend’s condo we could have tried Texas de Brasil which was much closer
My 18 ounce bone in rib eye was done to my exact specifications with that wonderful charred look and smell one can really only ever achieve from I assume a 1300 to 1500 F grill; but the first cut with my steak knife reflected my request for medium rare to perfection. Hell I had to take some back which was sliced and made ready for bagels for my journey back to Toronto the next morning. Ordered way too many sides and knew that.

$$$$$ 7 forks out of 10

News Cafe
Ah the ubiquitous all day breakfast joint. Guess what it never seems to fail to deliver and quite often after walking down Oceanside after dinner and way to many drinks we would slip into the bar and have final cleansing ale.
Its cheap, it’s cheerful, the quality of the breakfasts is always good and the service excellent.

$ - 8 forks out of 10 (why? because it does what it does extremely well ,and continues to be dirt cheap)

Nikki Beach (at the end of Oceanside)

I love the house music and despite the invariable wait, its a great spot for people watching and the brunch while at $35 is hardly cheap, is all you can eat> So despite not being big on buffets, the French folks have got a decent formula on the go. I make a point of going on any Sunday I find myself in SoBe

$$$ 7 forks out of 10

Bentleys in Islamordora - Middle Keys

ovverrated,.....quite simply! Why would you slap a piece of grilled cheese on a nicely cooked and seasoned piece of fresh snapper for gawds sake.

$$$ 4 forks out of 10

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    1. re: netmover

      I also read your reviews with great interest......Hard to know what New Orleans food should taste like've made the trip and eaten there......I've eaten at Emerils in Miami Beach several times....and have never had any experience even close to what you've described.....And I don't think Emerils is the place for a steak....when you can dine on their redfish on a bed so sweet potato straws with a tasty reduction flowing over the sides of the fish......They do serve an etouffe there and their gumbos are always perfect......Take a trip to Nawlins as you say it....but the native there don't.....



      1. re: LargeLife

        @LargeLife Thanks for the response its always interesting to hear of ther folks experiences. I fully agree with some of your statements. As noted I have a notion of what Nawlins food should be only from restaurants here in Toronto (Southern Accent) that I have eaten in that claims so and food shows that I have watched, where the show was filmed locally. One of my dining companions had the gumbo soup, which he claimed was delicious. What little i know of gumbo suggests a main course generally served over rice, which certainly doesn't mean numerous variations doesnt exist ( the true joy of food).

        Again, having never travelled to Nawlins, I go by what i have read seen or been told.

        With regrad the steak, note I complimented the taste and quality and it would have been quite fab if I had orderer rare, sans sauce or things untop of it :).

        I noted the redfish and if I am not mistaken, two of my dining partners ordered it and had no complaints.
        all the best

        Emeril's Restaurant Miami Bch
        1601 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139

        1. re: Grazor

          Grazor....I don't want to drag this out.....but I hate to see a place like Emeril's...get hammered....and really for no reason.....You wanted to eat "Nawlins" food.....But you really didn't order New Orleans-style food.....Lobster gnocchi?....A New Orleans favorite?....I've been to NOLA at least 20 times and haven't had or even seen that......I do know that the redfish dish and the gumbos that are served there are very authentic and don't know why you didn't steer yourself in that direction!......I would be shocked to know there wasn't an etouffee entry on that menu!......But for alligator tail and the like....I'd just respectfully suggest you take a little trip to NOLA....spend the weekend and eat......Hit "The Gumbo Shoppe"....."Nola's"....."Commander's Palace"......"Emeril's"....."Johnny's Po Boy" and the like.......A steak would be the LAST thing I would order at Emeril's.....And as a seasoned diner......who writes that the place was "no forking good"....I would expect you to have better judgment.....


          1. re: LargeLife

            @ LargeLife _ Please see some of my comments below. Maybe you are right and I shouldnt have ordered the steak. Remember its a singular opinion from one visit versus your numerous visits where you had no issues. I am reminded of film critics...I love sci-fi and fantasy and the majority of those films get panned: but generallly I still attend and make a decison based on my personal prefernce.

            ("With regard the steak, note I complimented the taste and quality and it would have been quite fab if I had orderer rare, sans sauce or things untop of it :).

            I noted the redfish and if I am not mistaken, two of my dining partners ordered it and had no complaints.")

            1. re: Grazor

              I lived in Nola for 5 years and went to the original Emeril's many times (their banana cream pie is my favorite dessert of all time). While there are Nola inspired flavors, it is NOT a traditional New Orleans restaurant, even at the one in Nola. They have gumbo up there, but their signature item is the andouille crusted redfish.

              1. re: mikek

                My wife and I go to South Beach a couple times per year. Next time you go down, try Sardinia. Go on a Sunday evening. Get the ribeye, let me know what you think (you can post here or on the Philadelphia board where I'm from).

                South Beach Cafe
                121 5th St, Miami Beach, FL 33139

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