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NYC Hound in Miami for a few days

Needing to escape the cold, I'll be heading to Miami in a few weeks for four days with time for four lunches and three dinners and will be renting a car. I've been to Miami many times before, but my last visit was about six years ago. Prefer lunches to be a bit more on the casual side. No price limit, but I hate overpaying for things. Also not a fan of typical brunch food -- i.e. pancakes, eggs and bacon, etc. And I'd rather not go to a restaurant that I can find in NYC -- ie. Scarpetta, Shake Shack, Nobu, etc -- though it seems like Shake Shack is one of the cheaper options in South Beach.

These restaurants are a must: Joe's (DH loves stone crabs), Michy's and Michael's Genuine.

I'm debating between these places:
Versailles(because of the whole experience -- but open to trying something else is the food is vastly superior)
Pub Belly
Chalan on the Beach
Ola
Indomania
Gigi
The Forge
Alta Mare

Any opinions on the restaurants I've mentioned previously? And any more recs?

And as I've only done Joe's take-out before, how long will the wait be on a weekend around 7P for a table?

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  1. lunches
    Red Light
    Francesco
    Graziano's - the original on bird rd.
    Sakaya Kitchen

    Your 3 choices are good dinner choices
    Get the killer crab claws at joes as well - they are expensive but excellent.

    I picked places that I think Miami does as well or better than NY.

    -----
    Red Light
    7700 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33138

    Graziano's Restaurant
    9227 SW 40th St, Miami, FL 33165

    1. Your wait will be about 1.5 hours with joes but there is a bar.

      1. Tipigeon, thanks for your input. I haven't heard of Francesco but it sounds great. There really is no good high end Peruvian in NYC. I think I'll probably want to do this for dinner so maybe I'll do Joe's take a way for lunch so I don't have to wait. I'm assuming by killer crab claws, you're talking about the jumbo size. And Sakaya Kitchen and Red Light also sound like it's up my alley.

        -----
        Red Light
        7700 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33138

        22 Replies
        1. re: Miss Needle

          I'm not a big fan of Red Light. The prices are good, but I think the food is overrated and the service is awful. I like Sakaya, Pubbelly and Gigi, although I haven't been to Gigi since Jeff McInnis left. I'd avoid the Forge.

          Other places to consider that I'm not sure NYC has a real equivalent to (although it has most things) are Hakkasan and Zuma.

          -----
          Red Light
          7700 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33138

          Hakkasan
          Miami Beach, FL, Miami Beach, FL

          1. re: Fineas

            Hakkasan is good but will soon be in NYC.

            Zuma is nice (beautiful space worth going to alone for that) and good but I would not make a special trip for it outside the ambiance.

            -----
            Hakkasan
            Miami Beach, FL, Miami Beach, FL

            1. re: tpigeon

              Really? God, I think the food at Zuma is great. I'll even eat the corn on the cob there and love it and I generally hate corn on the cob!

              1. re: nikklos

                I think it is very good but I think Nobu beats it where they have similar dishes. Shrimp, black cod, etc.

                I should have said very good in my first reply.

                Very off topic but the best corn on the cob I had in my life was at cafe habana in NYC. Makes zuma look like amatuer hour.

                1. re: tpigeon

                  Zuma is so much more than that though (granted I have purposely avoided the cod and the sushi). The Lobster Miso Soup and the Lamb Chops are worth the trip alone.

                  1. re: nikklos

                    Actually, I would do Yakko San over Zuma if we are talking only about food. But I think you can get the same kind of food experience (japanese pub food) from places like Ippudo in NYC (which I have not been to).

                    I would only go to Naoe for sushi coming from NY. It is the only one that measures up to the great places in ny.

                    Please note that I have not been to Yakko San since they moved a few weeks ago but I have heard it is just as good as ever.

            2. re: Fineas

              The service at red light is not good. However, the food is great. Shrimp and ribs in particular. I have exprienced very long wait times for the food but it was always piping hot when I received it so it was not our server's fault.

            3. re: Miss Needle

              I would check and make sure Red Light is doing lunch service, not sure, especially with temperatures warming up.

              At Joe's I actually prefer smaller sizes to the jumbo crab claws. My favorite are the selects, which are betewen med and large - a bit more work, but sweeter, better quality meat and a much better value IMO.

              You've got a pretty good list. The food is not exceptional at Versailles, but it is as you say an experience. If you're looking for value you will not find it at the Forge, but that is another "experience" restaurant (and the food is not bad, just a bit pricey).

              I've been back to Gigi twice since McInnis left, and haven't noticed much difference.

              -----
              Red Light
              7700 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33138

              1. re: Frodnesor

                I second Zuma. While there may be robata grill in NYC, I cannot think of an equivalent experience.

                Come to think of it, I also second Graziano's (on Bird Road) for the same reason.

                Places like Gigi and Sakaya Kitchen, I would avoid. You get much better at any of the Momofukus.

                You are on target with Michael's and Joe's is most definitely a singular Miami experience.

                -----
                Graziano's Restaurant
                9227 SW 40th St, Miami, FL 33165

                1. re: nikklos

                  I disagree with Momofuku vs Sakaya kitchen. I think the experiences and food are different enough to make it worthwile. Momofuku (noodlebar, milk, ssam) is not much better than sakaya.

                  1. re: tpigeon

                    Even if the Momofukus are a little better, why come to Miami and waste a meal on a NYC knock-off?

                    1. re: tpigeon

                      But I will say, Gigi, in particular, is much more of a rip-off of Momofuku than Sakaya Kitchen.

                      1. re: nikklos

                        Because sakaya is really good and different enough. I would eat at ssam if I went to ny and if I was coming to miami, I would eat at sakaya. I like Gigi but cannot say the same. The burger and tater tots with cheese alone make sakaya worth the trip.

                  2. re: Frodnesor

                    Definitely check on red light for lunch. Call and talk to a human being before trying lunch there.

                    1. re: Frodnesor

                      We ate at The Forge last weekend, and although we had a great time, the food was very mediocre, and very expensive. I ordered the burger medium rare and sent it back twice. The first time it came out well done and the second time it came out well-done and missing the lobster marmalade on top. They finally gave up and said they were taking it off the bill. My husband's steak was overcooked also, and our friend's duck was overcooked. The spaghetti with kale and poached egg came out the first time with the egg cooked through. It came out better the second time but was bland, bland, bland. The only really good thing we ordered was the Grand Marnier souffle - which was delicious! Fun atmosphere but don't go for the food!

                    2. re: Miss Needle

                      I am talking about the king crab claws not the jumbo stone crab claws. As for stone crabs, I prefer selects after having them side by side with the Jumbos/Colossals.

                      Edit - Joes is one of the few places that serve the entire alaskan king crab claw. This is a dinner only option and is my favorite thing to eat there.

                      1. re: tpigeon

                        If you get the king crab claw, get it hot and eat it with drawn butter like lobster. Mustard sauce is for the stone crabs.

                        1. re: tpigeon

                          I just had lunch at Joe's on Saturday and they had the King Crab Claw. Delicious.

                        2. re: Miss Needle

                          If you're looking for high end Peruvian, Francesco's isn't it althoug h everyone seems to think so. Try La Cofradia in Coral Gables. The cuisine, decor and style of the restaurant is a mirror of fine dining spots in Lima. Coming from a NYC transplant trust me its without a doubt the best in Miami.

                          1. re: TheInsider

                            La Cofradia looks great as well. This is going to make my selections even more difficult.

                            -----
                            La Cofradia
                            , Miami, FL 33179

                            1. re: TheInsider

                              Francesco blows La Cofradia away for Peruvian. La Cofradia has more glitz and glam...and you pay for it.

                              -----
                              La Cofradia
                              , Miami, FL 33179

                          2. I just got back Tuesday and find that I can not be in South Florida on a Sunday without going to Michael's for brunch.The onion dip and chip starter, kimchi benidect, duck confit hash,crispy rice cake,shrimp and grits, the list is endless. Reserve now for the patio. I have been twice for dinner and once was very disapointed in an extremely fatty pork dish and bland pasta course. I was at Versailes on Sunday night and while the food was decent (roast pork sandwich, tamale, mamey shake, arroz con pollo), the roving band interesting, the highlight was the cortadito and guava pastry enjoyed at the outside bar. I would do El Rey De Las Fritas for a burger and then head to Versailles for the dessert.

                            1. I would suggest trying:

                              SugarCane (for a cool Miami/Latin vibe, with excellent latin and asian tapas style dishes)

                              Pub Belly (a nice evening place to stop by..generally strong, if rich food, and great beers.)

                              Francesco's (Coral Gables, a very strong Peruvian foodie place.)

                              Jaguar (For lunch, in Coconut Grove, great vibe and nice pan - Latin choices, great ceviche as well as grilled entrees, churrasco is excellent.)

                              Try an oddly named place called "Dolores But You Can Call Me Lolita" on a Thursday night, for a drink only, on the terrace bar (This is a raucous place, with a great, colorful, cheery, Colombian singles scene...one of those "only in Miami" places. Unique and fun.)

                              Just up the street in Brickell is The River Seafood & Oyster Bar. This place has fantastic oysters, incredibly fresh fish, and generally great food. Underrated, I think this place is a star. And it is just up road in Brickell from "Dolores...but you Can Call Me Lolita," so you could conceivably walk to it from there.

                              Hiro's Yakko San..near Aventura, great pub-style place, Japanese, open very late.

                              IceBox Cafe (A great Miami Beach spot that has a bit of a SoHo vibe. It's great for lunch, off Lincoln Road in Miami Beach. Great salads, smoothies, desserts. )

                              Garcia's (for lunch, a classic fish shack on the Miami River, terrific and fresh fish and stone crabs. Place with real character...everyone from the police to the mayor to musicians show up.)

                              AltaMar is great, too, for seafood, if a bit less original than those on list above.

                              Enjoy.

                              1. Oh my. Thanks so much guys! I wouldn't have known about several of these places if it weren't for you. I wish I had more time to try them all. I'll try to address some suggestions and have a few questions.

                                I've actually eaten at Hakkasan in London. But nice to know that they're opening up a location in NYC.

                                Thanks for letting me know that Red Light may close for lunch during the off-season. I found out a few days ago that Joe's is only open for dinner and take-out these days.

                                Sounds like there are some better food options than Versailles. I actually thought DH would want to go there initially, but it seems that he's open to other places.

                                Unfortunately I won't be there on a Thurs -- so Dolores is probably out. Does sound like quite the Miami experience though.

                                Questions.

                                1. Between Sakaya and Pubbelly, which one has better food irrespective of whether or not they resemble the Momofuku restaurants? And, yes, the Korean slightly spicy tater tots definitely caught my eye.

                                2. Graziano's website is not up. From what I gather, it's an Argenenian steakhouse (for which several exist in Manhattan and Queens). Is there anything distinctive about Graziano's? Or is it that it's an excellent rendition of an Argentenian steakhouse?

                                3. How is the execution of food at Sugarcane? The menu sounds awesome, but I have been let down in the past by trendy restaurants.

                                4. Would I be missing out on anything by going to Michy's and Michael's for lunch instead of dinner?

                                8 Replies
                                1. re: Miss Needle

                                  Sakaya and Pubbelly, though they play the contemporary Asian card, are very different restaurants. Sakaya is a counter-service place with a layout basically like a fast food joint, though the food is all made from scratch and very well done at that. It perhaps doesn't shoot as high or as broad as Pubbelly does, but it misses less often too. Pubbelly is a sit-down restaurant with a more "eclectic" menu, and there are highs and lows (and seems to provoke a love it or hate it reaction among most people).

                                  Graziano's is an Argentine parrillada, and a very good one, but no particular "twist" other than that the Gables one, anyway, where I've been, has a very good and pretty reasonably priced wine list.

                                  I think the execution at Sugarcane is very solid, other than the straight sushi which I think is only OK.

                                  I don't think Michy's does lunch. Michael's lunch menu has many of the same bits and pieces as the dinner menu, and then some (the burger is only available at lunch).

                                  1. re: Frodnesor

                                    Sakaya vs Pubbelly -- I give the edge to sakaya but both are very good. Sakaya is a better value as well. It comes down to my favorite things at sakaya I like a little more than my pubbelly favorites.

                                    2. Excellent rendition of an argentinian restaurant. I usually get the mixed grill (I prefer my steak rare) and their dulce de leche crepe dessert is very good. Again, coral gables location is good, but bird rd is better.

                                    3) Sugarcane is very good as well - I still give the edge to sakaya. The interesting dishes (honeycomb tripe, etc) are the best. Don't get sushi there. Zuma does better robata than Sugarcane.

                                    Michy's doesn't do lunch.

                                    As for michaels, the dessert menu is the same - my favorite thing on the dessert menu is the chocolate cremoso. You should look online for lunch and dinner menus, though it changes often, you should get an idea about which you prefer. I don't have much of a preference. I like their sunday brunch best but that is not your thing.

                                    -----
                                    Michy's
                                    6927 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL 33138

                                    1. re: Frodnesor

                                      I agree with all of this, although I think the food at Sugarcane is better than just "very solid." That said, like most small plate places, there are some hits and some misses. I too would skip the straight sushi, but would get some of the ceviches/crudos. The portions are small and the value not great, but some of them are really excellent in terms of execution/taste.

                                      As basically a fast-food place, Sakaya is a natural choice for a quick, casual lunch. Although there are somestylistic connections to the more casual Momofukus, I don't see it as a "rip off" of the Momofukus at all. Same for Gigi for that matter.

                                      Sra. Martinez does lunch now, although I haven't been for lunch. That might be a good lunch choice, especially if don't end up doing Michy's for dinner. Not that Sra. Martinez wouldn't also be a good choice for dinner.

                                      -----
                                      Michy's
                                      6927 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL 33138

                                      Sra. Martinez
                                      4000 NE 2nd Ave., Miami, FL 33137

                                      1. re: Fineas

                                        Don't get me wrong - we need "rip-offs" of great NYC concepts here in Miami. I am all for it. But for someone to come down here and go to Gigi - which is indeed a complete and blatant rip - an inferior hybrid of Ssam and Noodle Bar - would be a waste.

                                        OK Sakaya for a quick, order at the counter lunch, fine. Although its whole raison d'ĂȘtre is, essentially, the pork bun.

                                        What really saddens me is that so many people - tourists and locals alike - have not been to the original Grazianos (ON BIRD RD) because they dismiss it as just another Argentine steakhouse. It is so much more and truly one of the most unique Miami culinary experiences.

                                        To weigh in on the Michael's lunch/dinner debate. I have never been to Sunday brunch but it sounds lovely. I have been to dinner many times and it is the best thing going in Miami - it is sort of like Red Cat in NY but much better. I go to lunch during the workweek often and it is just not the same. Can't put my finger on it.

                                        -----
                                        Graziano's Restaurant
                                        9227 SW 40th St, Miami, FL 33165

                                        1. re: nikklos

                                          wrong on sakaya. The pork bun is not the best thing on the menu much less the reason to go. Though the pork bun is good, it is inferior to momofuku's.

                                          1. re: nikklos

                                            The Sunday brunch at MGF&D is indeed awesome and is certainly another alternative.

                                            When I said the execution at Sugarcane was "very solid" that was not at all intended as a slight. OP said the menu looked interesting, and queried whether they pull it off successfully. And most of the time I think they do (and I also think the cooking is pretty consistent from night to night). Agree that the sushi is unexceptional but the crudos can be very good.

                                      2. re: Miss Needle

                                        Hmmm... seems like Sakaya is in the lead, especially as Pub Belly is only open for dinner. And I'm trying to keep my lunches more casual as I would probably have a swimsuit under my clothes and DH will probably be wearing his swim trunks as shorts.

                                        Nikklos, can you please explain in more depth Graziano's and why you feel it's a very unique Miami culinary destination? I really don't know anything about the place.

                                        1. re: Miss Needle

                                          I am not Nikklos but I will pitch in anyway.

                                          Bird Rd. has an open pit bbq. The others in miami, I am pretty sure are gas grills. This is a rarity in nyc and I doubt the argentinian places there have one. I have been to the gables location and the bird rd and the bird rd is better and is the best of the argenitnian places I have been to in miami.

                                      3. I just firmed my food itinerary.

                                        Lunches
                                        Joe's Take Out -- will be sure to try the king crab legs as DH will probably order the stone selects (which is what I generally order)
                                        Red Light -- I've read an article that stated the guy only had one oven and one flattop and two burners and planned on getting 4 more burners. No wonder kitchen is slow. Will adjust expectations accordingly. Was debating between this and Sugarcane, but decided it would be nice to inject some more casual into the mix.
                                        Sakaya -- Pub Belly isn't open for lunch and the banh mi bun and tater tots look really good.
                                        Graziano's -- Ok, ok, you guys have convinced me. And I've already reserved for the original site. As this will be on my way to the airport, I won't be dressed too casually.

                                        Dinners
                                        Michy's
                                        La Cofradia -- definitely won't find this in NYC
                                        Michael's Genuine

                                        I've already made the reservations for the places that take them. It seems to be a lot easier here than in NYC where many of the top places are booked a month in advance. Thank goodness!

                                        Thanks! You guys have been awesome helping me. Will report back after trip!

                                        17 Replies
                                        1. re: Miss Needle

                                          I don't think you can get the king crab claws at joes take out. If you can fine. If not, I would switch la cofradia and joes for lunch and dinner.

                                          I have never been to la cofradia, but if you like squid ink pasta or risotto, I would do francesco. It is their specialty and I don't believe cofradia has it.

                                          1. re: tpigeon

                                            Cofradia's online menu does not have an arroz negro ->
                                            http://www.lacofradia.com/menu.pdf

                                            I've not been to either of these in some time, but some general thoughts ->
                                            Cofradia is a much more polished, fancy place, both the physical space and the food; Francesco is much more homey.
                                            I was not a big fan of the ceviches at Francesco, thought they were smothered in sauces; Cofradia both has a more gentle hand, and more variety.
                                            The arroz negro at Francesco is indeed an excellent dish.

                                            1. re: Frodnesor

                                              The sauce thing seems to be a polarizing issue with francesco ceviches. I personally like the sauces very much. I certainly have not had sauce like it on ceviches anywhere else.

                                              1. re: Frodnesor

                                                Frod - gonna have to agree with you on Graziano's, not much to rave about food wise but the wine selection is extensive and aggressively priced.
                                                Also, I was in La Cofradia a few weeks back, delicious!!, and although the online menu doesnt have an arroz negro they do have a seafood black risotto which I've had on a few occasions and its killer, not to mention the shrimp and black lasagne with lobster sauce- another fav

                                                -----
                                                Graziano's Restaurant
                                                9227 SW 40th St, Miami, FL 33165

                                                La Cofradia
                                                , Miami, FL 33179

                                            2. re: Miss Needle

                                              Grazianos is casual btw. The original is moreso than the gables location so you don't have to worry about that.

                                              Don't miss dessert at michy's, particularly the baked alaska and the bread pudding. Have fun.

                                              -----
                                              Graziano's Restaurant
                                              9227 SW 40th St, Miami, FL 33165

                                              1. re: Miss Needle

                                                One last warning on red light. Make sure you talk to someone first before going up there. Just because you have a lunch reservation on open table does not mean it is really open (I am serious about this). However, you can always bail and go to sugarcane and/or sakaya for lunch if red light is not open as it is a 10 minute drive south.

                                                1. re: Miss Needle

                                                  I just tried to do red light for lunch after they tweeted that they would be open for lunch this weekend...at noon today, lights were out and doors were locked. I would make this a dinner place and make Cofradia a lunch one.

                                                  I was not too upset as I hit buena vista bistro, which is awesome but you have a million french bistros in NYC so I did not recommend it. But I think it is better than Marseille for point of reference.

                                                  1. re: tpigeon

                                                    Have to weigh in here. Red Light dinner only- always. The cozy little river they claim to be by is nothing pretty but chef Wessel is putting out some amazing fare in less than 100 sq ft of kitchen space. As for Cofradia I would do dinner as well, its just that kind of place and plus weekend Gables lunches put me to bed faster than a kobe burger stuffed with foie.

                                                    -----
                                                    Red Light
                                                    7700 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33138

                                                  2. re: Miss Needle

                                                    Hopefully this will be the last revision.

                                                    I think the NYer in me would come with Red Light. I'd probably get pissed if they tweet they're going to be open and they turn out being closed. Also reading some of the Yelp reviews, I'd probably walk out if I was kept waiting for a couple of hours even though I had a reservation. I also wouldn't be too pleased with the staff changing my orders without consultation because they were out of something. I'm don't think I'm laid back enough to deal with it.

                                                    So made a couple of changes -- dropped Red Light, moved Michael's to brunch and added Sugarcane for dinner. Think I'll keep La Cofradia as I make a decent arroz negro at home.

                                                    1. re: Miss Needle

                                                      Looks like you are set. I would check out frodnessors page http://www.foodforthoughtmiami.com/ to check out specific dishes at the restaurants you chose.

                                                      Push comes to shove I would do Pubbelly over Sugarcane, but the difference is not much and the space at sugarcane is better.

                                                      1. re: tpigeon

                                                        Yes, Frodnesor's blog is great! I've already been checking it out and hopefully I'll be coming up with a list of potential dishes to order -- though I will try not to get too fixated on certain dishes -- recently a poster on my local board got pretty POed that the menu at the restaurant changed from their online version.

                                                        1. re: Miss Needle

                                                          While doing a little research about menu options, I noticed that Graziano's lunch menu is quite limited compared to the dinner menu (at least on menupages). Is the lunch menu worth having -- or am I missing the best stuff by not going there for dinner?

                                                          http://southflorida.menupages.com/res...

                                                          -----
                                                          Graziano's Restaurant
                                                          9227 SW 40th St, Miami, FL 33165

                                                          1. re: Miss Needle

                                                            I have never been to Graziano's (Bird Rd.) for lunch but, wow, if the menupages site is accurate, the lunch menu is limited indeed. In my estimation, there are three essentials to order at Graziano's and the menupages lunch menu only has one:

                                                            "Chorizitos De Caza: Jabali Picante, Faisan Con Nueces Y Cordero Merguez game sausages, spicy wild boar, pheasant and chicken with hazelnuts, cognac, and lamb merguez flamed in cognac"

                                                            The two others are only listed on the dinner menu:

                                                            "Provoleta Parrillera Con Tomate, Oregano Y Oliva Extra Virgen grilled argentine provolone cheese topped with fresh beefsteak tomatoes, oregano & extra virgin olive oil"

                                                            "Parrillada De Carne Y Achuras Tiernas mix grill with sausage, blood sausage, sweetbreads, small intestine, beef flap meat and beef short ribs"

                                                            Everything else on either menu is pretty great as well, so I don't know if it is limited so dramatically as to not recommend doing lunch.

                                                            As far as what makes it such a unique experience, I think TPigeon is on target. I still remember the first time I walked into this rather non-descript space years ago. I was immediately hit by this heat coming from the glass-enclosed pit. There was a giant pig splayed and roasting - it kind of startled me actually! The aroma was just so intense and wonderful. The room was bustling. Never expected to find such a scene when I walked through the door. There is nothing quite like it - at least in Miami or NYC.

                                                            -----
                                                            Graziano's Restaurant
                                                            9227 SW 40th St, Miami, FL 33165

                                                            1. re: nikklos

                                                              well if graziano's lunch menu is missing the provoletta and the mixed grill, I can't recommend going there.

                                                              Maybe you do francesco for lunch and cofriadia for dinner and compare. I have had the squid ink (either pasta or risotto, they switch) both at lunch and dinner so you can compare the two restaurants.

                                                              1. re: tpigeon

                                                                Thanks nikklow and tpigeon for your info on Graziano. I've decided to cancel it and leave that slot open for whatever arises. That lunch was supposed to my last meal of the trip. So it could very well be that I'll be too full from stuffing myself at the other places to have anything by the end of the trip!

                                                                -----
                                                                Graziano's Restaurant
                                                                9227 SW 40th St, Miami, FL 33165

                                                                1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                  Here are good places near the airport that serve lunch
                                                                  Sugarcane
                                                                  Gigi
                                                                  Sakaya
                                                                  Buena Vista Bistro
                                                                  Sustain
                                                                  Michaels Genuine
                                                                  Sra. Martinez

                                                                  -----
                                                                  Sra. Martinez
                                                                  4000 NE 2nd Ave., Miami, FL 33137

                                                                  Buena Vista Bistro
                                                                  4582 NE 2nd Ave, Miami, FL 33137

                                                                  1. re: tpigeon

                                                                    Great! That's a handy list to have. Thanks.

                                                  3. Reporting back on my Miami trip. Weather was glorious (with the exception of a few showers) and the heat was quite welcome. Here's a rundown of what we had:

                                                    LUNCHES

                                                    Joe's Take Away -- got an order of the select crab claws and hot killer claws. Yes, tpigeon, the killer claws were excellent. I think I might have preferred them to the stone crabs. The legs were a bit difficult to eat without making a mess, but still were tasty. I've had better stone crabs from Joe's before, but I think approaching the end of the season had something to do with it. But it was still better than what I get in NYC. Also had an order of hashed browns. Think they forgot the salt but still good. I know the key lime pie is excellent, but really didn't have room in our stomachs for them.

                                                    Sakaya Kitchen -- Ordered spicy tater tots, soft shelled crab buns and the bo ssam. The spicy tater tots were nicely fried and non-greasy -- would have preferred them spicier, but the menu did say slightly spicy. Why won't somebody open up a tater tot poutine shop with different international types of tater tot poutines? The deep-fried soft shelled crabs were in a mantou bun topped with a spicy mayo. Good. I wish I was able to try the banh mi bun but it wasn't available that day. The pork in the bo ssam was a bit dry, but still edible. I didn't realize that it was a piece of pork belly until I got to the fatty part. The sauce on the pork was quite redolent with ginger. I liked it, though I thought it was a bit on the sweet side. I also tried the tableside ssamjang sauce -- also very sweet. As I grew up eating Korean food, I'm trying not to be biased. It was good for what it is. The sweetness of the food is probably a good bridge to those uninitiated with Korean food. This is the Americanization of Korean food -- kind of like what many Chinese and Thai restaurants have done to cater to American tastes. Wish I was able to try more items off of the menu, but there was a limit to what I could eat. On my way out, they were handing out Korean chicken wing samples. Really not quite on the level of Bon Chon or Kyochon (Korean fried chicken chains) as the crust was on the heavy side. But I'd rather have these than buffalo chicken wings. And I think comparing Sakaya to Momofuku is a bit like comparing apples to oranges.

                                                    Michael's Genuine (brunch) -- Wow, this place is popular! Glad that I had a reservation sitting outside. We had to wait quite a while before we actually got our food. They also lost one of our orders as the kimchi benedict we ordered in the first wave didn't come until the very end (when we asked the waiter where our dish was). I guess the kitchen was pretty backed up. The chips with pan-fried onion dip were a revelation to me as my only experiences with onion dip were of the Lipton's french onion soup variety. I actually ran out of dip before I was finished with the chips. Really, a must-order IMO. The kimchi benedict was delicious. The pork belly was nicely cooked (crisp on the outside and tender inside) and a great contrast to the poached egg and kimchi hollandaise. The oven roasted double yolked egg with grueyre was served piping hot (I had to peel some skin off from the roof of my mouth later). I think it would have been better if the yolks weren't completely cooked solid. The crispy rice cake with chorizo and shrimp was great. Funny, because I was actually expecting a pan-seared mochi cake, but received a pan-fried cake with rice kernels. The tongue hash was good, but a bit on the bland side. But it was nothing a few sprinkles of the tableside maldon sea salt couldn't rescue. The pop tarts (banana, nutella) were awesome -- so much better than the Kellogs version. Crust was flaky and buttery. I was actually hoping to see a pop tart with both banana and nutella in it, but the two separate flavors were fine. I would have loved to try this place for dinner. Maybe next time.

                                                    El Mago de Las Fritas -- Never had a fritas before and was excited about trying one. I ordered the one with a fried egg and DH ordered plain. I really enjoyed the interplay of the highly seasoned meat, potato matchsticks, raw onions, sauce and the fried egg. I wish the egg yolk was runny though. Washed it down with a mango batida (they were out of watermelon juice). Our waitress was so nice as well. I think I'd probably want to try the double next time as I tend to prefer a higher meat to bread ratio. Oh, and frodnesor's review was displayed right by our table!

                                                    DINNER

                                                    Michy's -- I'd probably say that this was my favorite meal of the trip. Loved the fact that we were able to order half portions on many of the items. We ordered a bunch of appetizers and shared one main. The jamon serrano and blue cheese croquetas were awesome. Couldn't really taste too much of the ham, but they were still very tasty. The white gazpacho was amazing. I loved the interplay of the creamy texture and the grapes and crunchy almonds. The sweetbreads were probably one of the best preparations I've ever had -- maybe the best. Perfectly fried, and the accompanying gastrique was quite delicious. The crunchy nuggets of bacon were a nice touch. The creamy polenta was good (though I'm kind of partial to Scarpetta's). The short ribs were quite good as well. Unfortunately we were so full that we left quite a bit on the plate. The waiter asked us if anything was wrong with it -- told him it was absolutely delicious but we were too full to eat any more. I did save room for the baked alaska. As I had a super sweet version a few months ago back in NYC (my first baked alaska), I was a bit nervous that the meringue would be too sweet for my tastes. But this was perfect in sweetness level. Actually, everything we had was really well balanced in tastes and textures.

                                                    La Cofraida -- Never having higher end Peruvian cuisine, I was quite excited about this dinner. I decided to order the the yellowfin tuna tiradito served with passionfruit sauce, hot shrimp cevice with fried yuca and corn for appetizers. We dug into the shrimp first as it was hot and didn't want it to cool down. Really nice, hot and tart. Shrimp perfectly cooked and the crunchy yuca was a nice contrast in texture to the shrimp. After the shrimp was done, I tried some of the yellowfin tuna. Turned out they gave us the wrong one as this was the tuna ceviche asian style. I notified the waiter and he went off to replace the dish. So a few minutes later, we got the correct dish -- except that instead of the yellowfin tuna sliced carpaccio style (which is what the waiter initially told us how that dish was prepared), they hurried the order and just gave us large chunks of tuna instead. Sigh -- wasn't really in the mood to ask for it redone, so we still ate it. It did taste good, but the carpaccio-style slices would have probably given us a better distribution of the lovely passionfruit sauce and fish.

                                                    For our mains, we ordered the parihuela (soup) with lobster and other seafood and cofrade risotto with shrimp. Both dishes were excellent. The cofrade risotto was extremely rich, but the lighter soup was a nice complement. Personally, I thought both items were perfectly seasoned, but DH thought it was too salty for him.

                                                    The food was wonderful. Setting was beautiful. The only thing that would prevent me from labeling this as a fine dining experience is the service. In addition to the yellowfin tuna incident, I thought the service was a bit awkward and that they were trying too hard where it felt very insincere.

                                                    Sugarcane -- In contrast to La Cofraida, I thought the service here was really good. Our waitress was very friendly and made us feel very comfortable. Started out with the shishito peppers. What a huge portion! I'm used to ordering them in NYC yakitori joints where I pay $2.50 for about 4 peppers. Some of them were pretty spicy, which kind of muted our tastebuds for the oysters we had afterward. Almost every piece of oyster had some shell -- don't think they were shucked very well. The bacon wrapped dates was next. I always love this dish. The sausage was a nice touch. The tripe with kimchi arrived afterward. Another huge plate. The tripe was deep-fried, which was new to me. I think I prefer tripe stewed. It was also a bit too heavy on the salt. The only clunker of the night. Shortly after the tripe arrived, we received a complimentary plate of goat cheese fritters. They apologized for the "wait." Surprisingly, I didn't think the wait was that long. But who am I to say no to free food? The blandness (in a good way) of the goat cheese made the tripe more palatable. Then the bone marrow with veal cheek marmalade. I think this was my favorite dish of the evening. The luscious marrow went well with the savory veal cheek on top of the crostini. The steamed pork belly buns were good too. The kobe beef sliders were very good, but I couldn't tell that they were kobe beef (which is a good thing). When I've had wagyu burgers in the past, I thought it was way too mushy as it disintegrated into my mouth. I like my burgers to have a bit more bite.

                                                    SNACKS

                                                    Icebox Cafe -- At the South Beach location, I got the chocolate bomb cake. At the airport location, I had the oreo cake. Both were moist with a good level of sweetness. As I'm not a fan of super sweet desserts, I thought this level was perfect for me.

                                                    Many thanks to all of you for helping me with my itinerary. Hopefully we'll be back at some point and revisit some places and try some new ones.

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: Miss Needle

                                                      Thanks for the review. Glad you enjoyed your food.

                                                      1. re: Miss Needle

                                                        Nice report back.

                                                        I too find that Sakaya, while it is one of my favorites, can be overly sweet at times. It's probably more my tastes than anything as I really don't eat sweets and prefer salty/savory dishes. The tots there are f'n awesome though.

                                                        Brunch @ MGFD is the tops. Sounds like they hammered your egg though. The dish is supposed to come out with the cheese melted and the egg more runny. It's probably the toughest dish to be consistent with since they are using a wood burning oven that doesnt have a dial to set the temp to. The "stickman" has to be alert or else it comes out torched and there is no way for him or anyone to tell until the diner sticks a spoon in there. It's one of my favorite dishes there but also the most inconsistent, especially when it's jammed like it is at brunch. Unbelievably good when it comes out right though. I was there the same day as you sitting at the bar and liked the tongue hash but thought it could've used a little salt too. Kimchi benedict is awesome. I think I ate 5 dishes and had 4 cocktails at brunch that day which loosened me up for buying Heat/Celtics playoff tickets from my perch at the bar!

                                                        Same with the Mago frita as the egg is usually a little more runny. That frita is delicious though.

                                                        All the hype about Graziano's means I gotta get down to the Bird location soon.

                                                        1. re: Blind Mind

                                                          Oh, quite a coincidence we were there the same day. I was thinking about sitting at the bar but thought it would be a bit more relaxing sitting outdoors. About the egg dish, I can see how it's difficult to control the heat in a wood burning oven. Oh well -- it was still tasty.

                                                          And I will definitely try to make it to Graziano's on my next visit.