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Miami Spice 2014 Edition

Here we go again people: spice is around the corner, and here is the usual post to update with your experiences as they happen. The 2-month promotion has already been alluded to in 2014, but to keep it on track I'll include all the links here: beginning with the official site (reinvented again this year, and for the first time under the umbrella of the visitors bureau):

There is a whopping 567 participants this year, and one thing that hasn't changed is the infuriating randomizing restaurant list that shows only 5 participants at a time. So only 100 page changes until you have a complete picture, which is why this thread is an essential boiling down with the help of chowhound expertise.

There is a July 31 kick-off event which includes an iron chef type competition judged by Allen Susser: http://www.miamiandbeaches.com/event/...

Another difference this year: Pubbelly can't wait until August, and i like that! Pictured is the Pubbelly Spice menu, which is being served already (and they've put on a great show in prior years).

Thanks to CFByrne for posting the prior year's wrap-ups:

2013 Thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/9091...

2012 Thread: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8596...

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  1. Wading through the list, it quickly becomes obvious that something has gone wrong in compiling it. When i started reading through it, i joked to myself "what, are they going to include Denny's" - and they did. Also 3 McDonalds on the list - yikes! So to highlight some notables:

    The Dutch;
    Pubbelly (not sure about Pubbelly Steak, and Sushi);
    Prime 112 & Prime Sushi;
    The Michael Schwartz restaurants;
    the 50 eggs places (swine, yardbird);
    The Bazaar;
    The Fountainbleau restaurants (Scarpetta and Hakassan, but no Gotham);
    Bourbon Steak (a fave serving spice dinner 7 days a week)

    Also some great new places I'm looking forward to trying:
    Michael Mina 74
    AQ by Aqualina (Dewey LoSasso's new place in Sunny Isles).

    Lots of gems, but this year they are "hidden gems" in a field inexplicably including fast food outlets, hot dog joints and scoop shops.

    Most Surprising omission: Blackbrick
    Most Unsurprising omission: Naoe (I've still never been)

    3 Replies
    1. re: non sequitur

      Blackbrick is already priced for spice. It does not make much sense for them.

      Gotham no longer exists - will become another Mina restaurant soon.

      Pb Steak does spice. Sushi does not.

      1. re: tpigeon

        Re Blackbrick: you are correct - the current lunch deal for $15 is simply too good a deal already to be included in Spice. And they couldn't add anything to it to make it worth $22 (it's more than enough. Food as it is).

        Didn't realize Gotham Steak was RIP - I loved Gotham as a NYer, but never even checked out the miami outpost because steakhouses saturated the market.

        PB steak I confirmed is in (already - in July too), with a "go fish/go steak" theme (attached)

        1. re: tpigeon

          According to the PB Steak website, their last day is today--8/3...says they are moving to a yet to be determined location. Reason given is rising real estate prices which would have forced them to raise menu prices....bummer, that was my favorite resto in Sunset Harbour.

      2. Can't wait for the usual roasted1/2chicken,churrasco,chilean salmon,and penne pasta choices that alot of restaurants fob off during miami spice.What a shame that what started out as a good idea with restaurants attempting to showcase innovative dishes has degenerated into a fundraiser for tourism bureau who wacks the participating restaurants approx $500 to $1000 each for "advertising".Every year i suggest participating restaurants just give a 20 percent discount on their regular menu so customers can try their regular dishes.For many people a free dessert which is what the spice deal amounts to is no bargain.

        1 Reply
        1. re: travlnmike


        2. Wrap-ups reference doesn't work.

          1. Trail 6 is right - shouldn't have pasted.

            Here is the 2013 wrap up:

            And the 2012 one:

            1. Even Benn with some helpful filtering ...


              2 Replies
              1. re: CFByrne

                I think they tried too hard to fit it into a gimmicky "A-Z" format, sacrificing some top picks in the process.

                Miami New Times has had great coverage in past years, and virtually nothing so far this year!

                Made reservations for Bourbon Steak and Oolite this morning.

                1. re: non sequitur

                  I thought the same thing when I saw "Seasons 52" listed...

                  But still, there are some useful tips here. And the article promises more detailed "Best of" lists in the coming days.

              2. Unlike previous years, I am not seeing any menus. A few, but not most, of the restaurants show the Spice menus on their websites...Difficult to know what to choose!

                4 Replies
                1. re: gblcsw

                  I found many of the restaurants had posted menus on the spice website at the time of the original post. The link is http://www.miamiandbeaches.com/specia..., and I see that as of now they wisely whittled the list down to 175 participants. If you have the patience to scroll through the 35 pages of participants (5 per page), you should be able to click on the restaurant name, which opens a page with the days of participation, and yet another link on the left to view the menu.

                  1. re: non sequitur

                    I really must be doing something wrong... I get 614 participants, 1/2 of whom don't show anything(Chalan, Charlotte, Folie, etc, etc...).

                    1. re: trail 6

                      Try this "at a glance" list, which I just found, and which seems way more focused and better organized: http://www.miamiandbeaches.com/specia...

                      1. re: non sequitur

                        MUCH better! Thanks.

                2. I tried the dim sum brunch at Hakkasan this weekend, to contrast that $28pp offering (available all year) with the $23 spice version (only available in Aug/Sept). The menu for each is attached.

                  We started with 3 steamed and 3 crispy dumplings each (compared with 4 steamed offered on the spice menu).

                  Next we had the choice between the BBQ platter or the stir fried chicken (you don't get both). The bbq platter we chose had one rib for each of us, and some slices of char Sui (pork).

                  The "vegetable" course was also a choice between 2 options: 4-veg or a type of bok choi called "pak choi" (we chose the latter).

                  Lastly are the sides/starches. The fried rice and wanton soup we got were both single-sized portions.

                  Unlike my spice experience at Hakkasan, I left the $28 lunch a little hungry. I then looked at this year's spice menu and see that the "pak choi" is actually given as an option for a main (!). So if you go for spice, I'd recommend going with the deep fried snapper as the main without question. That, and 2 good looking dessert options make it not a bad deal, but seemingly less generous than in the past.

                  1. Makoto today for lunch - our table had it all. Robata chicken is $10 on the regular menu, so the worst bargain as a main for spice.

                    The way to go: start with thr tuna on crispy rice (2nd choice is the salad), then rainbow roll (next would be the jicama tacos, but a distant 2nd), and the no-choice dessert is a matcha tiramisu, which is fantastic.

                    1. Great....looking forward to it as I will have 2 nights when I visit in mid-August....I have the choice at eating full meals at what I considered to be 2 expensive restos in SoBe but did not when I last visited for the month of May--Milos and Red the Steakhouse....will consider Bazaar by Jose Andres, Meat Market is ALWAYS a favorite spot of mine...and, lastly, they say Il Mulino will be participating--is it open yet?? (weren't they originally in SoBe but moved away?..if so, their new location is next to Milos, right??

                      If you had to rank 1, 2 and 3 in order of meals from above for dinner, what would be your top 3 choices? (Milos, Red, Meat Market, Il Mulino, Bazaar)?


                      1. Just had the Spice Menu at Palm D'Or at the Biltmore. The menu has changed slightly from that posted on the Spice and Biltmore website. http://www.biltmorehotel.com/dining/p...
                        The spice menu was presented along with the regular menu.

                        Amongst the four of us we tried three of the four apps, the duck foie gras ravioli, hamachi, and melon and Iberico ham. The presentations were beautiful. The hamachi had bright bursts of citrus flavor and the melon and ham came with mozzarella ice cream which really brought the flavors together. The choice of mains were limited to the duck, the beef with a $15 surcharge, and a "bouillabaisse" which replaced the two fish choices on the spice menu. The duck eaters at our table enjoyed their meal of sliced duck (no crispy skin). The bouillabaisse had no broth nor sauce and consisted only of a small chunk of charred octopus, a few small rings of calamari, a couple of small mussels and a few tiny shrimp. The flavors were good but the portion size was quite small. For dessert, two of us had the $6 supplemental cheese cart which consisted of a large selection of some interesting cheeses, although only accompanied by a small spoonful of a raisin purée and some more rolls from the bread service, the Napoleon was phyllo-less and instead was a rectangle of chocolate cake, mousse, with an orange liqueur infusion. The Vacherin also deviated from the classic but was a nice ending to the meal.

                        Overall, the service was top notch. The bread selection was quite good, as well. The food refined. Two glasses of wine and two cocktails and two coffees, tax and tip, and our Spice bargain for four set us back $300. For big eaters, you will leave hungry, but overall, the food was exactly what I expected from Chef Pugin, having last enjoyed his food at Le Cirque in Las Vegas a couple of years ago.

                        1. Heading to J&G Grill this weekend.

                          Any recos on which two of the three apps and entrees wife and I should order?

                          Menu in photo below (assuming it has not changed).


                          1. Looks like Miami New Times did eventually get around to its annual "good, bad and grudging" round up of Miami Spice (later than usual). The most important of the 3 is the "great" list, which is found at http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/shorto....

                            The "good" article also worth a read: http://blogs.miaminewtimes.com/shorto...

                            "Katsuya by Starck" sounds interesting, and was not on my radar until reading the above.

                            I was away until this week, so it's time to get busy, continuing with Bourbon Steak this weekend.

                            1. BOURBON STEAK
                              The Spice promotion is for the "slow" season, but Bourbon Steak was full to capacity by 7pm last night. As a result the service was a little spottier than I've come to expect: at my table of 4, not a single appetizer or main was delivered to the right recipient, and while we received the customary trio of fries, there was no truffled potato bread (usually given as the second "amuse"). There was also an unwelcome surprise on the bill: the corkage fee was raised (2 weeks ago, apparently) to $35 from $25. At $25 it was a bargain I'd come to depend on; at $35 it's proof that inflation is coming, so make sure to ask for a raise at work.

                              I tried everything on the Spice menu except the sorbet. In the apps the "SWEET CORN & MAINE LOBSTER CHOWDER" was the clear winner: the kind of rich and decadent soup you expect to pay up for in an upscale location. The "TEMPURA SQUASH BLOSSOMS with ratatouille" came second, but would have been a contender if there were 3 blossoms instead of 2. The loser was the "HAND-ROLLED ANGEL HAIR PASTA with butter, black pepper, and pecorino" - I think there was a noodle substitution, because the noodles were flat, not round - but the real problem was overcooking: this was a little mushy, and the seasoning was uninspired - even a simple pesto would have been a big improvement.

                              In the mains, the surprise was that the weakest of the 3 was the steak! Ribeye is my favorite cut of meat, but the "CERTIFIED ANGUS EYE OF RIB EYE farro & english pea "risotto", grilled onion relish" did not live up the the steaks served at BS in past spice menus. Also, I have enough experience with this cut to say that the "eye" was really half of an eye in size.

                              The "TRUFFLE CHICKEN POT PIE breast roulade, hay smoked confit, sautéed pea shoots" was better option, but it was a real challenge to carve up the pie part of the dish with a massive steak knife. My favorite entree was the "TAPIOCA CRUSTED YELLOWTAIL SNAPPER coconut forbidden rice, sugar snaps, xo sauce" - this had a lot of complex and rich flavors and textures.

                              The best dessert was the "PEANUT BUTTER "SNICKERS" caramel mousse, chocolate ganache, peanut rice crispies". Second place went to the PINEAPPLE UPSIDE DOWN PARFAIT vanilla pound cake, candied ginger, pineapple sorbet. Didn't order the sorbet, but would consider it over the parfait at least, because the parfait was pretty small. Compared to the decadent butterscotch pudding on last year's menu, the desserts were not as decadent or generous this year.

                              While not as impressed as in years past, a great meal overall, and I'll check it out again in September if the menu changes in the second month (as it has previously).

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: non sequitur

                                I loved the lobster and corn chowder...Agree with everything you said about it. My husband and I both had the rib eye. Portion size was a joke and mine was overcooked from medium-rare to medium. My husband ate it, but we told the server when she inquired. She sent over the manager ...Nothing but an apology.
                                I did enjoy the risotto, however. Agree that "snickers" dessert was quite good. My husband felt the pineapple upside down parfait was just "okay." We, too, were very surprised by the $35 corkage charge. They are, however, very gracious and even decanted our wine for us.