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Jul 21, 2012 07:50 AM

Miami Spice 2012 Edition

It's that time again. Full list of participating restaurants at
New this year is the bifurcation of participants into a $23/39 "luxury" group, and a $19/33 "regular" group.
For at least one restaurant - Bourbon Steak - this is a good thing because in prior years the steak option always carried a $10 supplement (taking the $35 base to $45). This year they have a wagyu ribeye without a supplement, and that is one of the best values this year.
Reviewed here:

As usual, lots of insightful coverage in New Times, including:

Never been to Bianca at the Delano, but this article puts it on my to-do's this year (though a $30 supplement for truffle taglietelle is a little daunting - these are summer truffles, not white or black):

So my "for sure" list is:
Bourbon Steak (at least 2x
)Scarpetta (New Times cites a weekday bonus course, though I don't see it on their posted menu)
Hakkasan for dim sum brunch

My "wish list" are:
1500* at Eden Roc
Tuyo (new this year)

Please update this thread with your actual experiences, beginning July 1.

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  1. Is it just me or do all the restaurant offerings this year pale in comparison to last years?

    2 Replies
    1. re: brkak132

      It seems to get worse every year.

      1. re: brkak132

        I'm not a huge fan of Spice, but just from looking at menus, I actually think a number of places have done a good job with it. For years, my big gripes were that (1) many places participated for which a $35 meal was no great bargain, compared to their regular prices; and (2) too many places seemed to approach it with the sole goal of minimizing their food cost, leading to the ubiquitous Atlantic Salmon / Chicken Paillard / Churrasco menu trifecta.

        While I think the split into "luxury" and "fine dining" pricing categories is confusing, it does at least theoretically help distinguish those places where a (now) $39 meal might be a "bargain."

        Of the menus that are up, I see plenty of things I'd like to try at Area 31, Azul, Bourbon Steak, The Dining Room, The Forge, River Oyster Bar, Sugarcane, Toscana Divino, and Tuyo (and several don't have menus up yet).

        Palme d'Or and DB Bistro's menus aren't that exciting but I'm sure they're well done, and to get out of those places for $39 is a deal.

        Among the lower price rung, most don't have menus up but Pubbelly (9 dishes for 2 people) and Mercadito (drink, guacamole, ceviche or botana, 6 tacos, side and dessert for 2 people) both seem like great values.

      2. I'd skip Bianca , Spice or not. Overrated, overpriced Italian food.

        1. The last couple of years, many restaurants have upped their game on miami spice. Some restaurants still offer a menu that is

          a) metaphorically phoning in the effort, or

          b) not necessarily a good deal when looking at their regular menu

          Scarpetta, Gotham, Sugarcane, Hakkasan and Bourbon Steak all did a great job last year. Though some places are essentially offering the same menus as last year (Scarpetta), they were so good that I would go again. It'll also give a chance to check out some of the new places that I haven't gotten a chance to check out (Edge, La Gloutonnerie, etc.)

          2 Replies
          1. re: madtheswine

            Scarpetta's menu has been pretty much identical since it first joined either 3 or 4 years ago, but since I only travel down once a year that's ok with me (polenta alone makes it worth the drive).

            The list does seem to be growing - Pubbelly is new to the list even since the thread began, so I'll be making that a 'for sure' too since I haven't been yet.

            Luca Bella in Aventura is a good example of your (b) above - being on the "Luxury" list, I think you'd dine cheaper using the regular menu.

            1. re: non sequitur

              I'd say the same thing for Randazzo's too. It's far from being a "Luxury" establishment...

              This year will be the first time I go to Scarpetta! :D

          2. Miami New Times added to earlier referenced posts with its specific recommendations, in a 3-part series. Only the 3rd of which matters if you want their "best" picks, which you will find here:

            Not sure I totally comprehend MNT's selection criteria. Tuna's Raw Bar in NMB? "makes it to our 'great' list every year'? Really? I went years ago, but maybe need to give it a second chance.

            The participant list continues to grow, to the point that I miss the geographic regional separations in past years. Another new edition: Zuma (!) - I'll hit that up for a lunch, since I'm told it's 'the most expensive restaurant in Miami' (one place where spice HAS to be a great "deal").

            7 Replies
            1. re: non sequitur

              Don't know who told you Zuma is the most expensive restaurant in Miami but I'll tell you it isn't and going for Spice would probably be a letdown.

              1. re: lax2mia

                It is definitely one of the most expensive restaurants in Miami and was great for Spice when I went a couple of years ago.

                1. re: SobeChower

                  Zuma might be one of the top 50 most expensive restaurants in Miami. I sincerely doubt it's among the top 5. I haven't been in some time but the prices in my experience are comparable to other local Japanese places like Makoto or Oishi, and still not quite as inflated as Nobu. They've not posted their menu so it's hard to say whether it's a great deal or not.

                  1. re: Frodnesor

                    I'd love to go to the Zuma that is priced comparably to Makoto.

                    1. re: SobeChower

                      Zuma's online menu does not list prices but when I was there and noted the prices (which I'll admit was a while ago), appetizer / robata items were mostly priced ~$8-16, maki were $13-15, sushi items were mostly $7-10 for 2-piece orders, entrees were $20-35, desserts were $10.

                      Both the Herald and New Times reviews report prices in the same ranges: Herald says "$12 cocktails, $5-$36 for small shareable plates, $85 chef’s selection tasting menu, desserts $10-$12;" New Times says "Sushi (two pieces) is generally $7 to $10; most small plates and salads $12 to $20; mains $21 to $36; and desserts $10 to $12."

                      Have those prices changed significantly? If not, that is certainly in the same range as Makoto (and far from the most expensive restaurants in Miami).

                      1. re: SobeChower

                        Zuma IS priced comparably to Makoto... I've been to both and there is very little difference in prices... maybe $1 or $2 here or there but its almost identical otherwise.

                2. re: non sequitur

                  Did Zumba for spice today - wow, how far downtown Miami, and its lunch scene, has come in 10 years. I barely recognize anything from my days as an associate at 200 biscayne,when the only real "power lunch" to be had was at the capital grille.

                  There is huge value in spice here beginning with free valet parking at lunch (until 4pm), saving me both meter change and a walk from the intercontinental.

                  It wasn't clear to me online, but the meal starts with both the soup AND salad (the latter of which is refreshing, the former unexceptional but welcomed).

                  For mains I tried the sashimi, which was eye candy and mouth candy, though the beautiful presentation somewhat hid the main attraction: salmon, tuna and hamachi. My wife, between court dates, met me and had the miso cod which we were told is a signature dish (and is on a parallel spice menu for about $10 more). This was a generous portion, and so rich it would have been hard to eat it without some sharing.

                  The dessert was the biggest standout: some kind of chocolate concoction with candied nuts, a 'birds nest' of miso flakes I've never seen before, and some excellent ginger ice cream that was almost spicy. Amazing meal for $23 and free parking. If I still worked downtown I'd be here weekly during spice.

                3. New Times "Best" pick Mercadito is running a groupon-type promotion that gives 2 spice menus for the price of one:

                  Deal runs for 6 days from date of this post. Kind of like "extreme couponing" in that it's a discount on top of a promotion.