Miami Food Report
I posted a few weeks about visiting Miami for Basel. Our trip has (sadly) come to an end, but I wanted to thank everyone for their recommendations and report back on some of our favorites.
The first day, we were in Wynnwood and had a great Jamaican lunch at Clive's Cafe—fall-off-the-bone-goat stew and excellent jerk chicken for cheap. (Earlier that morning, we stopped at Panther Coffee.)
That night, we ate at Florida Cookery in the James Royal Palm. It was very good, but I didn't find it to be incredibly exciting—in fact, I can't even really remember what we had, other than a nice corvina ceviche. Not sure if I'd return. "Safe" food with a little bit of Florida flair. I did very much like their key lime pie. I also thought the space was a little weird... Not so much as a restaurant as just a corner of the hotel dedicated to dining.
We had a great lunch from Joe's Take-Out and ate it in the park, per CHer's recommendations. We did medium claws, fried chicken, and the sweet potato fries with a great bottle of Riesling. Everything was great, and that fried chicken—what a steal!
That night we had a late meal at Pubbelly, which was maybe the weakest meal of the trip. It wasn't bad, but I've had better renditions of similar dishes at home in NYC (something we try to avoid when we travel). It didn't seem worth the $100 for two, and I felt oddly rushed. Our first plate was literally set down almost a few minutes after ordering. Another place where nothing truly stood out and thus I have trouble remembering what we had.
The next day, we had one of our favorite meals: lunch at Tap Tap. We had the malanga fritter, fried goat cubes, the whole deep-fried yellowtail (the best whole fish I've ever had) and the grilled conch. Truly phenomenal food, and perfectly accompanied by cheap mojitos and rum punches. The service is leisurely, but attentive and it was just a relaxing way to spend an afternoon. That night we were so stuffed that we didn't eat dinner.
Last night was our grand finale—we did the 16-course tasting ($100) at The Bazaar and found every part of it to be perfect as well. Truly warm, polished service, great pacing, and we found it to be a great value, even after a bottle of wine, tax, and grat. Standout courses: the bao con lechón, the Brussels sprouts, Cuban escabeche, and the yucca churros. The famous Jose's Taco was delicious too, and it's a true steal that both the $100 and the $125 tastings include it. The liquid nitrogen caipirinhas are unbelievable for just $5 (the hidden cocktail gem of South Beach, given their booziness).
All in all, we really had a great trip and I thank every CHer who shared their recommendations. We didn't make it to Yardbird, La Sandwicherie, Michy's, and many others this time around, but we'll definitely return soon.
Thanks for the report, always good to see this kind of feedback. I'm not sure that Florida Cookery is actually using their permanent space right now, the hotel has had some issues and that restaurant space may be sort of makeshift right now. We had our first visit a couple weeks ago and really enjoyed it (though I've always been a fan of Wessel's cooking). Empanadas (oyster, alligator and oxtail) were great, lychee-glazed quail very good too. It's very newly opened and may take a little while to hit its stride.
It's been ages since I've been to Tap Tap, guess I should go back.
The tasting menu at Bazaar is a new addition, and sounds like a good (relative) value. And yes, the $5 caipirinha is possibly a deal on par with the $5.95 fried chicken at Joe's.
I was there last Monday and there was no mention of a tasting menu. That is a fantastic deal as I spent more than that on about six plates, though most dishes such as the butifarra sandwich,brussels sprouts and rossejat were big enough for two to three people. As someone who dines alone often in Miami that is now even more of a can't miss meal.
It's apparently not made public (not sure why—maybe because it is such a steal!)... We asked specifically for tasting menu options and they were then presented. The $125 menu includes the full-sized rossejat, as well as three other dishes—we were stuffed after 16 so I can't imagine 20. I believe the Brussels sprouts were full-sized too, not tasting menu portions, same for the coffee-rubbed steak, the mojito banana dessert, and every other course except Jose'st taco, I think. That should give you an idea how much food it was!
(Also, I must mention that while we initially ordered caipirinhas, they weren't brought out due to some confusion so they were comped and then they comped a second round because we liked them so much. It was a very, very generous offer for a minor mistake that detracted nothing from the meal, so I always appreciate that.)
I will be back this Saturday, with my 11 yearold son so we may do the "tasting menu" but 16 plates is an awful lot for him. I was happy with my selections last time and would like to explore the menu on my own but 16 courses for $100 might be to good a deal to pass on. I'm leaning toward my own tasting menu for the two of us. So, is it still $100/16 and $125/20? Any other combo? Have they added anything new that is a can't miss? if any other 'hounds are there, gives us a wave.
You're so right about the Florida Cookery space. It's terrible. Like an afterthought. Not to mention hard to find. Flights of stairs to get there. Food is good, but it was better at the chef's original Red Light. I think chef just needs to find his groove there. I hope. He's one of the most original we've got.