Miami Spice - 2013 Edition
Participant list is starting to form (more always added in late July):
I hear the Bourbon Steak menu has already been circulated, but nowhere I can find (so post it if you got it).
Also on my "try" list this year is Bazaar, the Dutch and Makoto (especially need to hit more of the lunches, and the last 2 have it).
Not really "Spice" per se, but DB Bistro Moderne extends the $39 dinner (or lunch) party into October by offering their super-expensive burger (the one stuffed with short rib and foie gras), with an appetizer, dessert, and a glass of bordeaux for $39 in the month of October. It's said to represent a $72 value, so that's a spice-worthy deal when spice ends.
Scarpetta: Great experience as it is every year, it's one of my "musts" for Miami Spice.
Lots of little "extras" - the bread plate comes with 3 spreads and 3 breads; petit-fours after dessert; a $20 wine flight with a Grigio, Barbera and Moscato.
Most importantly all the menu items are really well prepared. From the Spice menu we tried the STEAK TARTARE with raw quail egg & crispy shiitake mushrooms and MOZZARELLA IN CARROZZA with stewed baby tomatoes (good portion size of some very upscale "mozzerella sticks"). The justifiably-famous POLENTA with mushrooms has been on and off of the Spice menu, but we managed to secure some and everybody wanted to lick the bowl clean, including my mushroom-hating kids.
They (the kids) continued with the famous SPAGHETTI ($12 supplement - which did not substitute for a dish, but added a half-sized portion as an additional course).
The BEEF SHORT RIB AGNOLOTTI (horseradish bread crumbs & red wine sugo) was amazing. The wife went for the local grouper, but I would have loved to see the DUO OF KUROBUTA PORK (pork tenderloin, pork belly, fennel & citrus) or the Long-Island Duck (not on the spice website). They seem to be changing the menu frequently, but there is never a shortage of things I want to try.
For dessert, both the POLENTA CRUSTED CHEESECAKE
(with strawberries & strawberry sorbet) and the COCONUT PANNA COTTA (caramelized pineapple & guava "soup") were amazing. So good in fact, that we were all able to dig in after such a large meal.
Sunday night at 6pm the place was exceedingly quiet, so it's a great place for locals to hit at that day/time, even with kids!
No pictures, but you can find plenty at the MNT's round up here: http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/shorto...
Zuma: Spice lunch. Again, another great value lunch for $23. The entree options alone (teriyaki chicken, salmon) are priced around $24 a la carte, so you could actually save on the price of an entree by going for the spice menu.
I've never been wow-ed by a miso soup (even at Zuma), but you don't have to choose between that and a salad, because you get both. So far so good.
There were 4 entree choices. The chicken and salmon options are both regular menu. The yellowfin don and the vegitarian don ("don" = bowl of rice topped with sauce, then the fish or veggies, and garnish) were both special offerings for spice - not on the regular menu.
Of the 4 choices, I think you would be hard-pressed to beat the vegetarian don, particularly since it is topped with shaved truffles. Truffles on a spice lunch menu for $23 is hard to beat, and the whole dish tasted amazing.
2 dessert choices. The flan was more like a brulee layer (without the crunchy top) on top of a cake layer, so though I'm no fan of flan, I liked this, particularly with the carmel ice cream that came with it. Good presentation too. The tapioca was topped with mango sorbet and was the more refreshing option of the 2, but I'd go with the "flan that wasn't" given the choice.
Very close proximity to DB Bistro next door. I don't think you can go wrong with either choice, and if I worked downtown I would be doing one or the other every week of August and September. Zuma had free valet parking at lunch, which is key (I didn't drive to DB, so I'm not sure how they work it there).
The Cypress Room (Lunch): Had my first real "miss" of the entire year last week at TCR. Took a client, having heard good things generally.
The decor was odd: grandma's tea dish on the table, and crazy grandpa's deer heads on the wall. All that was missing was plastic covers on the seat cushions, but there wouldn't be much room for a layer of plastic with the tables so packed together.
Upon being seated and seeing the menu I was disappointed to see, like DB Bistro, that the menu had changed from what was posted at ilovemiamispice.com (and that no up to date recipe was posted at the restaurant's own website). I was really looking forward to some tagliatelle carbonara.
Started with the "lobster salad" - chunks of lobster on shaved fennel. It was bland and uninspired. Not much else to say.
for mains my companion went with the Cypress Burger, so I opted for the quail to see something different. Should have also chosen the burger, because the quail looked like a rodent in the fetal position (and not even a rat - more like a hamster by size), and was accompanied by lentils on bitter cabbage. Tasted like something my mom would force me to eat as a kid, and I did this to myself voluntarily!
The burger was surely the same size as the one you buy at dinner for $24 itself ($1 more than the 3-course lunch price), but if you want fries with that, read the fine print: $8! If you are forced to have lunch here, go with the burger.
I had a fig tart for dessert - good but not great. My companion had frozen greek yogurt so hard that taking a fork to break off a piece launched it into his lap (something the waitress acknowledged had become a common occurrence during spice - but not common enough to soften it up a little before serving, apparently).
I haven't been very impressed at MGFD, and that tradition continues at TCR - maybe Schwartz's comfort food is too high-brow for me to appreciate - but thankfully there are SOOO many better options during Spice (and in better neighborhoods).
Used a holiday Monday as an opportunity to check out the weekday-only spice lunch at J&G. After reading some very negative yelp reviews that specifically targeted the Miami Spice menu there, I almost cancelled for another "sure thing" lunch at Makoto. I'm glad I tried something new.
Tried all 3 apps. Pink Shrimp salad was mixed field greens with 2 good-sized prawns (the right amount for this course). The creamy tomato soup had some great presentation (poured table-side) and the beet salad with goat cheese was good too (pictured - still haven't figured out after all these years how to post multiple photos) - no clear winner among the 3.
For the lunch mains, the lamb "au jus" sandwich was the winner over the "fishy" tasting mahi sandwich. We didn't try the churrasco (a selection that has become a prix-fixe faux-pas) because of an existing commitment to steak for dinner on the same day.
Desserts were interpretations of "Strawberry Shortcake" and "Peach Melba". I much preferred the peach, but both looked great (the failing of the strawberry option was some gold-flecked garnish that tasted ashy to me and ruined my melba buzz).
Not sure if Chef Kilgore was in the house on a holiday, but the yelping-haters have it wrong: this was a great lunch with a great view of St. Regis' oceanfront and pool.
PS: park across the street at Bal Harbour shops to avoid the $12 valet.
Makoto LUNCH: Had such a great time at the Makoto Izakaya dinner at Pubbelly that I waited all the way until the next day for some more Makoto fixins:
Apps: Makoto house salad is substantial, more going on here than you would expect for a "salad" but the crispy tuna rice is the way to go - tastes as good as it looks (and it looks great!)
Mains: Seabass robata is very good, but 2 skewers is not a huge portion (but for a lunch with 3 courses, that's not a terrible thing). Equally good as the Spicy tuna maki (an 8-pc roll). Both mains were easy to share/trade, so don't order the same thing as your co-diner.
Dessert is listed as "seasonal parfait" but was much more: a mango mochi (like an ice-cream disk wrapped in dough), and a coconut pannacotta with pineapple on top - it way exceeded the menu description - YUM.
Great deal for $23, and you can get some window shopping in while you are there. Don't forget to have restaurant validate your parking.
I did the Makoto "pop-up" dinner at Pubbelly last night (offered as part of Miami Spice at the amazing $33 price level). It was an anniversary dinner (number 15!), so a little risky picking a place with a no-reservations policy (unless 8+ people). But getting there close to the 6pm opening time got us a table just before the rush (I had a backup reservation at PB Steak just in case).
The dinner was the best $33 I have ever spent on just about anything: back to back outstanding dishes (11 in total), with not a single miss. Just outstanding. I don't know who gets the credit for this: Pubbelly or Makoto, but I need to be spending more time at both, clearly.
Pictured (just a few of the 11 plates of the night):
From "Mushimono" course:
picture 1: Edamame Wonton with micro cilantro (WOW!);
picture 2: Matsutake Mushroom Gyoza (best bite of year)
From "Buta Zuki" course:
picture 3: Pork Kushi Katsu (24hr. sous vide pork belly in panko - wow!) and Okinawa Chample (tofu steak).
picture 4: Buta Kimuchi (more pork belly and amazing kimchi, the popsicle sticks are "gohei mochi")
"Amami" (dessert) course:
picture 5: chocolate flexi ganache with mango and passionfruit creameux.
Paired with a bottle of sparkling and some amazing sake-based cocktails ("sour patch" and "pubberry"), this was a dinner to remember.
Also a plus: city parking garage proximity ($1/hour... none of that $12 sobe valet business).
re: non sequitur
None are at pubbelly. I have only been to Makoto once but I suspect that you will not find any of the dishes there. The food was mostly Makoto's work except for the desserts which were from the JG Grill dude.
I was at the bar facing the TV.
Edit: Just for kicks I checked Makoto's dinner menu and they had the tuna air bread on it but nothing else I could recognize. But the tuna air bread seemed to be prepped differently...
3 Spice experiences:
(1) Bourbon Steak - outstanding. We had a group of 12 (which is their max for Spice) on a Saturday night which was their busiest night of the year (yes, of the year - they were expecting 350 covers) and everything was on point. Not everyone in the group did the Spice menu, but I had the corn risotto w chanterelles, the moroccan spiced NY strip, and the profiteroles with blackberries, and all were great. They really do it right.
(2) Bulla - lunch - very good. Choriza a la sidra, lomo de cerdo moruno (pork loin) for a main, and crema catalana for dessert. The pork is similar to the pintxo moruno they serve as a tapa but a much more substantial portion, plated with potato creme and grilled asparagus. They also are in the less expensive "fine dining" category.
(3) Cibo - lunch - OK. Not really a great bargain since they regularly offer a lunch deal at a lower price, but very generous portions of a caesar salad, pizza quatro stagioni (they make pretty decent pizzas), and chocolate bombe for dessert. Service however was shaky, one entree did not hit the table with the others and took several minutes to appear, enough time for everyone else to nearly finish - with no apology or acknowledgment from the server.
Tried Edge Steak and Bar on Friday with my gf. It was great! We got the croquettes, terrine, lamb, steak, pb&j and cherry bomb. The two desserts were okay, but everything else was very good. If you don't dislike lamb, definitely try the lamb.
What's surprising is that this restaurant is categorized under "fine dining" and not "luxury dining". Also, we went on a Friday night at 9pm and the place wasn't as packed as we thought it would be, there were plenty of empty tables.
Was in downtown around midday today and thought I'd notch another spice lunch. I liked the menu at DB Bistro so much I chose it over Zuma (which I really liked before) and Edge Steak, which had received a lot of good spice-press this go-around.
Unfortunately, I fell victim to "menu changes frequently", which I would be a HUGE fan of if I worked downtown and wanted to visit 4 times, but worked against me on my one and only opportunity. I was lusting for chilled melon soup followed by "lobster roll" or short rib ravioli, but faced with the first day of the new menu, settled for a salad (lame) and arctic char, the crispy skin of which got it the thumbs-up. Wife had the chilled corn soup - not bad, and also the char (it being the clear winner among the current choices).
Desserts were a very pink napoleon (good use of kiwi) and a s'mores concoction which I wasn't a fan of because of a personal non-preference for marshmallow (and a really tough base layer of graham that took some real muscle). Better would have been the coconut panna cotta or the chocolate cremeso... both from the prior menu (again, sigh).
So it was good, but could have been great - I've had some amazing meals at DB, and this wasn't one of them. My recommendation would be to check out the next menu in 2 weeks, and hope that ilovemiamispice.com updates it's website (as of right now it is outdated).
PB Steak Saturday night. Terrific. For $39pp * 2 = $78, my wife and I feasted on (pix attached):
* Local baby greens, heirloom cherry tomato, fennel, strawberry, avocado, horseradish crème
* Yellowtail taquitos, ginger soy, avocado, red onion, radishes
* Steak Tartare Sliders * sirloin, frites, truffle, parmesan
* Medjool Dates Avec Chorizo spicy tomato, goat cheese cream
* Pork Cheek Ravioli green peas, ricotta, beets, hazelnut butter
* PB Brussels Sprouts bacon, miso WOW!
* Roasted Broccoli, bacon, caper-anchovy mayo, aged cheddar
* Dry aged skirt steak, grilled red onion, chimichurri
* 5 Oz Wagyu Flatiron Steak, Truffle soy, summer truffles ($10 supplement added for this).
* Cinnamon Roll Bread Pudding
Hats off to everyone, the whole experience was terrific. I told the GM "You folks are doing it right."
I went to PB Steak on Friday. While I thought the food was pretty good, my gf was put off by the waitress and did not really enjoy the night. She wanted to order a cider and asked if they had any, the waitress said no, whisked away the drink menu and didn't return for 10 minutes to take our order. In my gf's words, "Wtf, shouldn't they want to sell you a drink?"
Anyways, we got:
Steak Tartare sliders
These three were all amazing, the only negative was that the Hamachi Crudo only came with two small slices, but the flavors were great. My gf said this was her favorite dish from the night. (Minus dessert lol)
Dates avec chorizo - Didn't really like this dish. The flavors didn't really go well together imo, and the tomato sauce didn't go at all with the dish.
Buffalo style sweetbreads - I liked this dish but it wasn't really what I was expecting. The buffalo sauce really masks the taste of the sweetbreads, which for my gf (who deoesn't like sweetbreads) was a good thing.
Pancetta wrapped Pork chop - I liked this entree better than the skirt steak. It with some sauteed greens which I think complemented the meat really well.
Skirt steak - Was perfectly done, very good but nothing out of the ordinary.
Brussel sprouts - the same as from Pubbelly. Amazing, must get if you like brussel sprouts at all. Or even if you don't.
Apple Pie in a jar - highlight of my gf's meal lol
Besides our waitress, who disappeared after taking our orders and only returned to take our dessert order and to give us the check, everything was pretty good.
Great lunch at The Dutch yesterday. I like that there is a public parking lot right next door, avoiding me the $15 valet fee. My table tried basically the entire menu, with lots of selection within each course.
Started with a great bread plate of jalapeno cupcakes and focaccia. I love it when a place uses something as simple as the bread plate to show some real skill and creativity.
APPS: The tomato salad was refreshing, but the fresh ricotta with char-grilled bread was the winning appetizer choice.
MAINS: Loved the mahi sandwich and the burger, but the winning main was surprisingly the chicken salad (not what it sounds like: it's more of a salad with chicken on top of it - not something chopped and glued together with mayo). If you do go for the burger, don't even attempt to eat all the shoestring fries it comes with (if you want to eat dessert).
DESSERTS: All the choices were great: the salted key lime pie was described as award-winning, but I liked the bread pudding and chocolate option equally (can't recall the chocolate name but it doesn't appear on the spice website - it was topped with a caramel gelato which was a little strong after a big meal - reminded me of the butterscotch pudding at Bourbon Steak). All were very artfully presented.
At noon we were the only table in the place, so I highly recommend checking this out, especially on the weekend (when it is one of very few "Sunday Brunch" options). For $23 this was a great deal!
re: non sequitur
I really liked the dinner at the dutch. Especially the corn soup. Note they will change the spice menu again in september so if you want the corn soup you should go soon. I did have it with lobster (extra $8) and thought it was worth it...
For the main I had the duck confit which was really good but probably not worth the extra $15 charge. I would do the pasta if I were on a more serious budget which had no extra charge...I did not try the bbq but the bbq ribs I had in the past at the dutch were not my favorite but looked to be a really good value for spice as the portion size was pretty large...
The pecan pie and budino were both very good.
Makoto for dinner the other night was as always great!
The spice menu is a list of their greatest hits.
We started with the spicy tuna crispy rice and a watercress salad.
For a main we both had the pork chop, new to the menu but will be a great success if it goes on the regular menu after spice.
Dessert was a chocolate and raspberry mousse, yum!
They were very busy and the service was good.
Good Spice lunch at Hakkasan this weekend. Spice menu is simple because it includes everything (only time to choose is dessert).
Started with DIM SUM COMBO (Steamed pork bun, lotus shrimp dumpling and Spinach beef shu mai), and BBQ items (Grilled lamb skewers and Roasted garlic spare ribs). I prefered the dumplings to the meats, but appreciated the variety.
ENTREE included: crispy "nuggets" of seabass in an orange sauce, bok choi as a vegetable, and a plate of tightly wrapped fat noodles. This entree course was actually less filling than the starters. The fish was fantastic, but I wished there was more of it.
DESSERT: both the MANGO CUSTARD and the WHITE CHOCOLATE PANNA COTTA were great. Loved the flavor of the mango, but having picked 70 mangoes off my tree in the past week and racing against time to eat them in mango bread, mango martini, mango on ice cream... I kind of preferred the panna cotta as a break.
Great service, but my gripe is the "reduced" valet parking, which at $12 is still a steep surcharge for a $23 lunch menu. With a pot of jasmine tea ($7) and the parking, this inexpensive lunch surpassed the $80 level.
Milos on Miami Beach was excellent for Miami Spice lunch. The quality and value were outstanding. The hightlights were the meze sampler platter with the various dips - and an excellent Greek tomato salad as starters. The whole Sea Bream fish was fantastic. Salmon was also excellent. We concluded with fresh fruit and great honey and yogurt dessert. We will definitely go back again..
I think New Times has given up their "best/worst" round-ups this year, since they are a co-sponsor of spice and it may not look good for a co-sponsor to rip on participating restaurants.
Miami.com has a recommended list of 10 (at http://www.miami.com/10-miami-spice-r...), which are (along with my comments):
The Bazaar (as noted in this thread, not a big savings).
Zuma. (I'd recommend Makoto in the sushi category
)The Setai Grill (never been).
Catch Miami. (never heard of - menu looks lame)
db Bistro Moderne (I recommend)
Palme D’Or (pretty limited offerings every spice, IMO).
Mr Chow. (no opinion)
Red, The Steakhouse (agree)
Bourbon Steak (highly recommend).
Milos (they have a spice-type lunch always, not just now).
re: non sequitur
MNT did come up with their best/worst lists after all. "Best" found here:
Pretty long list includes makoto, pubbelly, the dutch, blue collar, scarpetta, bourbon steak, cypress room and Bazaar, among many others. In fact, their list is so indiscriminate that I think recommendations here on chowhound are more valuable.
More New Times reviews:
Hopefully starting tomorrow (August 1), we will have some chowhound reviews.
Advance reviews starting to roll in at MIami NT:
From past experience I know it's a great lunch option during spice.
Never been there, but after reading this I'm very interested.
re: non sequitur
MNT reviewed the Scarpetta dinner at http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/shortorder/2013/09/scarpetta_for_miami_spice_full.php
I didn't realize the spaghetti is a $12 supplement as a separate course, not as an entree substitute - that makes much more sense.
I also didn't know that the lamb agnolotti was MNT's #1 dish of 2012: http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/shorto...
Scarpetta is the last "must-do" I need to check off my list this year - and I still have almost a month. When I do though, I won't need to post pics, because new times took care of it for me.
Actually, the entire spice website is up and running today
New search by area and other sort features.
Only a few Menus posted.
Scarpetta looks good, but this marks the first year polenta hasn't been available as an appetizer - very sad!
Lots of selections at Bazaar (will have to research past posts):
re: non sequitur
re: non sequitur
Not sure, but looking at the regular bazaar menu, most of those items are an average of $10, and desserts $12 (but the apps average $7 - if they are in fact one piece sized). So the total value of the Spice menu is about $50, for the Spice price of $39, so Bazaar doesn't appear to be one of the better values during Spice.
Bourbon steak menu revealed:
Past experience tells me to pass on $15 for the foie supplement (tiny), but the corn risotto, if anything like last years corn ravioli, should be a winner, and you can't go wrong with the steak main.
re: non sequitur
Tried Bourbon Steak last night and confirmed that not only is the Spice menu one of the best in the city, but the restaurant itself is one of the best in the city.
Thanks to brkak132 we both went for the steak and enjoyed it. The corn risotto app was amazing, but I think next time I would go with the Tuna poke which had a generous portion of high-grade tuna. For dessert we had both the torte option and the profiteroles with blackberries option, and both were equally impressive.
With the duck fat fries trio to start and the potato bread this is just an all-around winner. $25 for corkage is not unreasonable, and unlike SoBe the valet parking is complementary.
Also my boys call the mac-n-cheese "the best in the world" so we all left happy.
I'll be back for my b-day in September, and hope they mix the menu up a bit as they have for the second month in the past.
I spared my camera since everything is pretty much as you can see at New Times: http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/shorto...
re: non sequitur