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Everything posted by ecruz1026

  1. Ohhh. Philippe Starck! Maybe next you'll get some Romero Britto sculptures! I think the Starck backlash is in full swing in Miami and places like Michael's and Michy's are proving that homey is better. Uhhh, yeah. That's why Michael Schwartz was a judge and Richard Blais only a contestant on Top Chef. BTW, let us know when Top Chef Atlanta rolls round. It'll probably be 8 or 9 seasons from now. Comparing a higher end place like Bacchanalia to Michael's isn't necessarily fair. If you wanna play rough, let's say Bacchanalia doesn't compare to La Tour d'Argent.
  2. robyn, did you step on some gum in the Design District or something? You're bashing absolutely everything positive that's being said yet everything negative (e.g. hopscotching over condomes) you're relishing. Have I been to artwalks in the summer, yes, both in the Design District, the Gables and Wynwood. The good places have left the Design District? Ligne Roset just moved there from the Gables (not to DCOTA). Plus, unlike DCOTA, there's galleries in the district and everything is accessible to the public, not just the trade. Plus the district now has the potential to become a nightime destination if places like Michael's succeed (which it seems to be doing). Plus in the same area you've got Ammendment XXI and A. They're not in the best neighborhood but give me a break. And in defense of the ridiculing of the Herald's critic, Victoria Pesce-Elliott is awful. She's constantly making grammatical and factual errors. She's in love with the mediocre and considers tofu exotic. She should be writing the food column for Jacksonville or some other provincial place.
  3. The Herald critics are notoriously bad with Victoria Pesce Elliott the worst by far. There are a couple of food writers there who are good (Enrique Fernandez and Linda Bladholm). Other than them, the food section is almost a joke. The area around Karu & Y is extremely intimidating. It took guts to open a place there. As for the Design District, I was there last Saturday at Michael's and it was packed. Also, it was gallery night, and there were people walking the streets with no cares (the art, by the way, blows away gallery night in Coral Gables, which seems to have become staid and boring). Add Grass, Bardot (a soon to open bar), and a Jonathan Eismann (from Pacific Time) venture and this area is going to be booming.
  4. I'm so hyped on this place opening. The Design District is practically a cemetery at night.
  5. I had a bad experience a few months ago and after a phone call got a response from the manager offering a free meal for 2. I didn't want to take him up on the offer. After another visit things went well. The waiters always seem hurried so maybe it's a manpower shortage thing.
  6. First off, saying that Calle Ocho is the only place to eat down home Cuban in Miami is like saying Little Italy is the only place to eat down home Italian in Manhattan. Granted, Little Havana has a little more authenticity than what's left of Little Italy, there are places all over the city for Cuban food. Puerto Sagua is a good choice. If you want to stick with Little Havana and Calle Ocho try Versailles (just like everyone else does). My two favorites are a little out of the way. Las Culebrinas is on Flagler St. near 42nd Avenue. It's a bit of a trek but really good. There's also Havana Harry's. It's a little fu-fu, but the food is very good. It's on LeJeuan Rd. near US-1. As for South Beach, Puerto Sagua and maybe David's Cafe would be my recs.
  7. Tried OLA on the beach last week. I was disappointed when it moved from Biscayne as that area seems to need an upscale restaurant more than South Beach. The furnishings were identical to the original location; however, I kept thinking about how much cooler the Biscayne location looked with the upstairs dining, the bar at the entrance, the long communal table in the center. Oh well. What hasn't changed is the food and service. Both were spot on. Items seemed to be chosen from the regular dinner menu (both of us had the shrimp ceviche and crispy pork). The ceviche actually seemed a little too raw and was spicier than expected. Also, it was served with popcorn instead of choclo. I tend to prefer the latter as the popcorn basically disintegrates when mixed with the ceviche. The pork dish was good; however, I think I've hit my limit on vertical presentations. The pork came on a bed of mashed yuca which came a swath of black bean sauce and the pork was covered by a chayote slaw and then by pieces of pork rind. I would've liked to have been able to get to the pork w/o touching the yuca mash but it was impossible. Lame gripe, I know, but it's starting to get to me. How many times did mom lay down ketchup then put mashed potatoes on it, then lay over the meatloaf then top it with a green salad? Again the food and service were good and one nice touch is the offer of a mojito or glass of wine with dinner for an additional $5. I'd recommend a try.
  8. I've gone to 2 Miami Spice restaurants with vastly different experiences. Wish was one that I had missed (I don't think they participated last year) that I wanted to try. It was worth it. Not out of this world, but good. Apps were a potato latke in miso broth with friend dried mushrooms. Sounds gross, but really good. Other was a lobster spring roll which I was dissapointed with. Mains were duck leg on strawberry gazpacho (suprisingly more tart than sweet) and octopus-stuffed squid (oxtail stuffed squid is one of my favorites, this version was lighter with ground octopus and rice). Desserts were very good. Service was good as well as the atmosphere (except for the beligerent tourist). Would recommend a visit. Pacific Time is another story. Appetizers were disappointing, the entrees were worse, and dessert was simple. Drinks were awful and overly strong. The only saving grace was the service, but that will never make up for a mediocre meal. Two of us ordered beef fillets, one medium rare, one medium. They came out well done (and about 3/4 inch thick, looking more like a strip steak) and medium (about 3 inches thick, looking like a tenderloin fillet). Portions were tiny. Dessert was the only passable course, and only because they had substituted a regular dessert for a Miami Spice one which had run out. Otherwise, exotic sorbets (which for Miami means sorbets you can get anywhere) were the other choice. And lastly, their wine list is horrible! I can deal with wine markups, some outrageous, as long as it's something that's worth it. But literally, there was a Spanish Verdejo that I buy for $9 that was on the menu for $50!!! An Albarino, which rarely goes over $20 a bottle, was marked up to $70!! At least if they offered hard to find or obscure wines that were that marked up I might've thought about ordering, but these prices were obscene! Next up, based on a glowing recommendation, Vix baby!
  9. Yeah, you'll be surprised and disappointed at how difficult it is to get good seafood im Miami. The ubiquitous yellowtail snapper and grouper are everywhere, but beyond that it's touch and go, especially at Publix (where it's easier to find salmon than grouper). There are some markets on N. River Drive, particularly Casablanca. It's chaotic at best, but you pick your own fish and they'll gut and clean it for you. Make sure you leave a tip to hear the "Gracias, Thank You!" from the staff. Other places to go for non-supermarket specialty items include the aforementioned Epicure on the beach and Laurenzo's. There's also Wild Oats in South Beach and, if you're in the need for a great cheese selection, Whole Foods in Aventura. There's also a good Publix about halfway between Brickell and Whole Foods (wide aisles, big produce section) just north of Costco. In the same shopping center there's Paul bakery. It's a French chain but the breads and desserts are really, really good. Brickell is a great neighborhood. You've got a lot of construction going on but there will be many places to walk to when all is done.
  10. Now I heard Jordi Valles from Mosaico is leaving Miami. Mosaico will remain open under a new chef, but what the heck?! We've lost Norman, now Jordi (and also Shin from Shoji Sushi). Is this a trend or just the restaurant business?
  11. The closest area with a density of good restaurants is Coral Gables. It's not far from the airport (5 to 10 minutes without traffic). Cafe Abracci, Ortanique, Pascal's, Cacao. Of those, Ortanique and Cacao have the Latin/Caribbean influence.
  12. The coffee comes from a bean which has been eaten, digested and excreted by a monkey or similar mammal in Indonesia I believe.
  13. robyn, I'm glad you've seconded my point. Anyone can open restaurant by charging an arm and a leg and have great food. It's the small, good middle of the road type places which Miami is lacking. Soyka is mediocre, same goes for Oliver's on the beach. Joe Allen's may be an exception, but its menu isn't exactly daring.
  14. We probably wouldn't be posting anything about this article had Mr. Klein extolled the virtues of Miami cuisine. Negative writing gets people riled up and he succeeded. His article was unjustly harsh, but it had its good points. One of those that I wholeheartedly agreed with was the lack of a food culture. I don't think people here necessarily demand good quality food and produce as much as other cities. That's what's probably behind the lack of good bakeries, grocery stores and farmers markets. I hate to compare MIA to other places, but there is no way that a supermarket that shrinkwrapped its produce would last a day in California. Maybe it's complacency, maybe it's ignorance, but mediocrity when it comes to food is not only accepted here, it's practically glorified. The best way I've found to judge the food culture of a city is to see the quantity and quality of mid-priced restaurants. Anyone can have a killer restaurant if they charge $40 a pop per entree, but it takes talent and a keen sense of ingredients to do the same at $15 per head. Judging Miami on this basis, we'd score fairly low. Granted we have great mid-priced Latin establishments which other cities don't come close to, but a lot of the offerings in this category just plain suck (Gigi's, Olivers, etc.). Until the populace demands more from these local establishents as well as from its supermarkets, etc., Miami will be a second-tier food city.
  15. Let's keep the list going. Just north of 79th St. on Biscayne there's a taco stand that opened a few months ago called Taco Max. As an L.A. native I've missed Mexican food since I arrived here (and no, Rancho Grande and Toro Taco do not fit the bill by a longshot). The taco shop is the type of place that would flourish given a better location. Unfortunately, they're one of the pioneers of the Blvd actually opening north of the imaginary 79th St. border. But the important thing is the food. Great variety of tacos the likes of which you don't find in Miami. Pork rind tacos (don't knock it till you tried it), sweetbreads, as well as cochinita and other more typical varieties. Most of the sodas are Mexican Jarritos, the tortillas are fresh (not made in-house, but good enough) and the staff is friendly. More locations to open soon around Miami. It's definitely a keeper and fills a void for good, cheap Mexican in MIA.
  16. I've only been once as the traffic going up Biscayne goes at a snail's pace even after rush hour. Hopefully the construction will end soon. One thing I noticed was the diversity of fresh fish. They had pompano, which I've only seen at more chi-chi places, and at a great price. The service was good and all the food was tasty. My only drawback was that the decor looked like something jetissoned from the 80's to 2005. Other than that, it's a keeper. Can't wait for Hiro's to open on Biscayne since I'm not too much of a fan of Sushi Siam.
  17. Went to Mosaico. Wish I'd gone sooner. Getting ready to coop up and just order pizza for the next couple of days. Two days in a row w/o sun gets depressing real quick.
  18. I know what you mean. Considering how professional the operation seemed to be when I visited OLA they should've made some attempt to contact diners. In fact, their website wasn't updated last time I looked. As for new places, I recently went to Vix and enjoyed it. It's supposed to be "food from the spice trail, something Marco Polo may have run into, blah, blah, blah." I ran into the chef at my favorite dim-sum place (in the kitchen observing the cooks with a videocamera) so when the waiter gave me the spiel about how the chef has influences from "China, India, Malaysia..." I chimed in with "...and Bird Road". He didn't find it amusing. It's a scene but the food is unlike any other you'll find in Miami so it may be worth a try. Thursday is the biggest scene night so you may want to either avoid it or be attracted to it, depending on your style. There's also Sugo at the Sanctuary near Casa Tua I believe. I haven't been but it's from the group that had Mezzanotte so you can draw your conclusions from that as to whether or not to go. If you haven't been to Mark's there's a 4-course prix fixe special through the summer. It changes daily so you can call first to see if it's appetizing. Also Azul has a new chef and he's changed the menu around. I'm curious to see what he's done. There's Atrio at the Conrad hotel. I haven't heard good things, but that may have been early opening kinks. That's about it for new places that are on my list. I'm waiting for the condo-hotel on Ocean to finally finish so Table 8 can open (thought that's a couple of years away).
  19. I agree. I live right by OLA and saw two U-hauls parked outside one day. I called the restaurant out of curiousity and there's a recording saying that they'll be moving somewhere in South Beach (where, who knows) and in the meantime to visit OLA Steak. Maybe you can point your rage towards OLA Steak and get some kind of compensation for your trouble.
  20. Check this site. It has a fairly unfavorable review. http://www.flyonthewall.bz/restaurants_pla...red_review.html
  21. Yes, the traffic in Miami can be bad, but not any worse than any other major city. Some of the recs from GayOT seem prohibitively far (L'Escalier is in West Palm Beach) and Chef Allens would take at least 45 minutes to get to. My advice would be to target one of the restaurants in Coral Gables. It's the closest area with a density of good restaurants that's close to the airport. It's a straight shot down LeJeune Rd (42nd Avenue) and shouldn't take more than 10 or 20 minutes to get there. If you go I'd suggest: Ortanique - Caribbean food. Consistently good. Great Mojitos. Even the bread is addicting. Tell the taxi driver it's on Miracle Mile next to the Miracle Theater. Cacao - upscale Venezuelan with other South Am. influences. Tell taxi on Giralda east of Ponce De Leon. On that same street there's La Dorada, the only US location outside of Spain. Has seafood flown in from Spain. A bit pricey, but good. Les Halles - bistro (same as NYC and DC). Good steak frites. Near Miracle Mile and Ponce de Leon. Caramelo - Haven't been and I've heard mixed reviews. It's Nuevo latino. On Giralda west of Ponce. A bit further south on LeJeune from these restaurants there's an upscale mall (Merrick Place) that has a couple of latin inspired places. OLA Steak just opened so check if they will open for lunch. It bills itself as a Latin inspired steakhouse. Another is Chispa which is run by another originator of New Latin. There's also Via Quadronno, an Italian lunch spot with outrageously expensive and good sandwiches. Those are my recs. If I had to choose, I'd go to Ortanique just because it's been around a minute and I've never had a bad meal there.
  22. There's decent Indian at Imlee on US1 in a strip mall (I forget what intersection).
  23. Why didn't I know about this place?! After countless trips to Orlando I came across this strip of Vietnamese restaurants and stores and was dumbfounded. I didn't think a place like this existed in Florida. There are dozens of restaurants in the area (I ate at Little Saigon and Pho 88) and an Asian market the size of a small Publix (the markets here in Miami are the size of a 7-11 at most). Why doesn't this area get more buzz? The restaurants are as good as anything I had when I lived in L.A. and the prices are dirt cheap. Any similar experiences?
  24. Never heard of a Captain's tip. It sounds like something European, tipping the person who showed you to your table. At least it wasn't one of those 18% mandatory tips you get at places on the Beach.
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