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need a few dining recommendations

earl May 25, 2012 06:49 PM

I am coming down with a couple of gastronaunt friends of mine next weekend. We are staying downtown at the Epic and would like 3 dinner and two lunch recommendations. I have a car so i dont mind driving around but prefer walking or cabs...but dont that let that stop you.

so, for dinner i would like a few recommendations for some fine dining places, think where you would take a date, anything with a great local chef is preferred, open to any and all, price is no object

would like some good ideas for cuban for lunch

if you have any good ideas for wine bars or a place for jazz pile on.

i was intrigued by two chefs and romeo's cafe, azul and scarpetta what does the community think?

for lunch tinta y cafe sounds good

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  1. t
    tpigeon RE: earl May 25, 2012 09:30 PM

    If you don't want to go far. Zuma is right in your hotel and Db Bistro is right across the street. I think Db Bistro is kind of stuffy and prefer Zuma for a date. I think Db Bistro's food is a little better.

    I have not been to romeo's cafe in years but if it is as good as I remember, it is a good spot if you are looking for a romantic type dinner.

    Azul changed chefs recently, jury is out on this one. Scarpetta is very good but is pretty far from you. In your case, I would do Db or Zuma first. If you want to do italian, I have not been in a long time but Il Gabbiano is much closer to you as well and would make a great date place.

    Edit: I forgot about Naoe, I have not been since they changed locations but it was the best restaurant in miami when I went there last and is great for a date. It is chef's selection and a 3 hour meal btw. I would do Naoe over Romeo's.

    I have not been but Tuyo should work for you as well, fits great local chef to a t, also the view is spectacular. I have heard great things and it is close by.

    have not been to tinta y cafe

    other suggestions for lunch, walking distance...
    Sparky's roadside bbq
    Fratelli Milano

    1. Frodnesor RE: earl May 26, 2012 08:50 AM

      Close to downtown my first dinner choices would be Tuyo (Norman Van Aken's new place in the Miami Culinary Institute), Naoe (outstanding omakase bento + sushi, give yourself 3+ hours for the meal), Nemesis (good, small, quirky, chef-driven kind of place). I've not been to Area 31 (in the Epic) in a while but whatever I've had there has been good.

      DB Bistro Moderne (across the street in the JW Marriott Marquis) and Zuma (in the Epic) are both very good but don't give you much local flavor.

      I had a very good (special event) dinner at Azul fairly recently - before Chef Joel Huff left, but the guys who were working with him are still there as best I know.

      For casual lunch downtown I like Sparky's Roadside BBQ, Stoupsie's (Greek). There are several Cuban places downtown, don't know that there's really any one that's a standout.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Frodnesor
        taiga RE: Frodnesor Jun 22, 2012 08:21 AM

        I went to Happy Hour at Area 31 and it was as if I had been punished.

        1. re: taiga
          Frodnesor RE: taiga Jun 22, 2012 09:23 AM

          ?

          1. re: Frodnesor
            taiga RE: Frodnesor Jun 23, 2012 03:05 PM

            Did not like it, noisy, ravenous waitress, smelled of cheap cologne, etc.

      2. GroovinGourmet RE: earl May 26, 2012 06:19 PM

        Definitely obscure and a bit out of the way, but I am a huge fan of Eduardo De San Angel on Commercial in FLL. Gourmet Mex, heavy on the seafood, in a lovely space with top notch service. Beer and wine only, but their agave wine margaritas are an interesting diversion.

        5 Replies
        1. re: GroovinGourmet
          The Chowfather RE: GroovinGourmet May 26, 2012 07:56 PM

          That's 34 miles of Groovin

          1. re: The Chowfather
            t
            tpigeon RE: The Chowfather May 26, 2012 08:31 PM

            34 miles plus the fact that San Angel is overrated. It is good but not better than any of the high end restaurants the OP can walk to.

          2. re: GroovinGourmet
            earl RE: GroovinGourmet May 27, 2012 08:28 PM

            thanks a ton for the recommendations... i am very curious about romeo's seems like a cool concept ... zuma seems like a cool spot.... gotta think abouit that one ....that either may work for sunday or even a late night snack....

            sparkys...love the name alone ... Nemeis i will consider sounds cool

            1. re: earl
              earl RE: earl May 29, 2012 09:53 AM

              ok its DB cafe for saturday dinner and Romeo's for sunday dinner damn i wish Nemesis or Tuyo were open on sunday's they look great!

              Zuma i think we'll hit for a late night snack...looks like a great place for people watching...feel free to pile on more ideas for lunch or a good jazz / piano club nearby

              1. re: earl
                f
                Fineas RE: earl May 29, 2012 01:17 PM

                For lunch, I'd suggest Fratelli Milano, which was mentioned previously, Ceviche 105, Bali Cafe (Indonesian -- cash only) or Soi Asian Bistro (Thai and ceviches are very good, not as much a fan of their sushi), or Little Lotus (sushi and izakaya/small plates).

                For coffee about two blocks from your hotel, go to Eternity Coffee Roasters. Really great coffee -- I think it just edges out Panther Coffee for best in Miami (at least that I have tried).

                There isn't much in the way of jazz or piano bars nearby, although I think Soya e Pomodoro (decent Italian in a funky converted bank lobby) may still have live jazz some nights (Thurs-Sat).

          3. h
            hollys RE: earl May 30, 2012 04:03 PM

            Great restaurants- ditto Zuma. Il Gabbiano better and closer for Italian than Scarpetta. Design District is not too far away- Michael's Genuine is always a crowd pleaser. Milos Estiatoria on Miami Beach -upscale Greek with fabulous grilled fish and seafood was amazing the other night. Great piano bar every night in lounge at Trulucks on Brickell- very good happy hour. Fratelli Milano is great for casual authentic Italian - great value downtown - a local hangout.

            1. earl RE: earl Jun 5, 2012 03:56 PM

              hey guys wanted to give you my review after this weekend.

              Again, I want to thank the community for all the recommendations and I wish I was in Miami to try them all. Nonetheless I’ll give quick review of my experiences with my wife and our friend over the weekend.

              Lunches

              Rodriguez de cuba (Hilton Bentley hotel) : when we walked in I was thinking oh oh… but I have to say we were so surprised as to how much we enjoyed this place. We started off with watermelon and tuna ceviche and chicken empanadas with Mojitos and I can’t recall the other cocktails….really nice, the Ceviche was super fresh, the empanadas a bit spicy. Entrees included your typical Cuban sandwich, mother and child (chicken thigh / leg and fish tacos. What amazed me was the lightness of the flour tortillas and how all entrees were just great. Service as top notch although just a bit slow in the beginning, what impressed me was how careful the waiter was in placing dishes down. Very good wine list (I had Ysios gran reserva by the glass which I never see).

              Novecento (on Brickell) sorta laid back on a Sunday afternoon. The steak frites with chimi churi reminded me of similar dishes I had at the local steak places in Sao Paulo. Wine list was verbal (it was ok) but for a little bite it was nice.

              Dinner:

              DB Bistro Moderne: started with a nice Paul Clouet Rose champagne and the charcuterie. The smaller portion was fine for the three of us, really nice duck rillet ( I think) and great chicken and country pate. We had the cold pea soup, Serrano ham salad and heirloom tomato salad next, all great though my friend thought the pea soup would be better hot than cold and I prefer Jamon Iberico over Serrano. Entrees, with a nice Domaine Serene pinot (Oregon) included roasted chicken, branzino and ribeye done in a provance style. Well prepared and very good although the ribeye, to me, might have been better done without the capers. Madeleines and a cheese course ended a great evening. Service was great, I didn’t note the snootiness mentioned in some of the posts…it wasn’t super friendly but it wasn’t rude by no measure. Crowd was interesting for sure…cute older couple celebrating an anniversary, some late night partiers and your typical dood wearing a t shirt and cargo shorts…bleh…

              Romeo’s Café: despite being in a non-descript shopping mall I found this restaurant super interesting. It was a slow Sunday night for sure as the three of us where the only people in the restaurant all night. However I had say that the chef came out talked to us about what we liked and didn’t and really prepared a great 6 course meal. Service was spot on and really nice.

              We stated with salmon and beef carpaccio and a banfi vineyard (can’t recall) Pinot Grigio The beef (I forgot the cut) was excellent and the salmon was so delicate. I would suggest a lighter hand on the capers on the salmon as they tended to overwhelm. That course was followed up by lasagna with antelope…really good and cheesy. Next were sea bass and an Italian version of steak Diane (cream and peppercorns) with a nice Borolo. The fish really rocked, it was so fresh and with a light hand in terms of cooking it made it melt in your mouth delicious.

              Next, with a Domaine Carneros pinot, was veal ossobucco on risotto, again tender and the risotto had just enough tooth to show it was freshly made. Entrees included pork with a peanut / chili sauce and a duck with a raspberry sauce, I would have to say this is where Romeo took some risks and the result was just ok. The pork was very good although I don’t think it was very northern Italian and the duck, while very well prepared (dark meat thigh portion), the raspberry sauce was too sweet…I figured he was thinking of using that to cut the fat just didn’t work as well.

              Desserts include a flaky apple strudel: really good, a pear tart w an almond crust: super good and a semi molten chocolate soufflé, very light and nice. After about 3 hours we finally walked pushing our full bellies into the night.

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