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  1. Joe's is certainly a local (and beyond) legend for their stone crabs, and you can either eat them at the restaurant or get them from the take-away spot next door. There are certainly other places to get them either at restaurants or for take-out. I've had from Delaware Chicken in Hollywood before and theirs are good. Norman Brothers in South Miami also gets good ones. Incidentally, as for sauce, melted buter or mustard sauce are typical, but honey mustard is not customary at all, and is also not what Joe's serves. If you're interested in the Joe's mustard sauce recipe, you can find it here (no honey or sugar at all).
  2. Sorry this comes so late (I didn't know there were any signs of life on this board) but the Mahogany Grill in Miami Springs does chicken & waffles.
  3. Of course I should have also mentioned Joe's Stone Crab in South Beach.
  4. For Miami (I've given links to more detailed writeups where I have them) - Area 31, new restaurant in the Epic Hotel downtown, does a very good job with locally sourced seafood (named after the UN-designated fishing area that includes th Florida coast). More info here. River Oyster Bar on Miami Ave. near Brickell/Downtwon is good. Many people highly recommend Alta Mar on South Beach, I have not been. For an old school type seafood place, Captain's Tavern in South Miami is a long time favorite though it's been some time since I've been. I like Chef Creole on NE 2nd Ave. & 54th St. for Creole (Haitian) style fried shrimp, conch, and the like. Sort of dodgy neighborhood. Garcia's, on the Miami River, is more of a lunch place but does a good dolphin sandwich. Red Light, not exclusively a seafood place, but usually offers a couple locally sourced fish every night, and great New Orleans style bbq shrimp. More info here. Hiro's Yakko-San - again not a "seafood restaurant" but a Japanese izakaya, happens to have some of the freshest fish in town. More info here. I don't spend as much time in Broward, but had a very good meal at 3030 Ocean, which has a strong seafood focus. More info here.
  5. Either the prices went up or that was some expensive water and wine. I recall we did the long-version tasting menu (in Feb/March) which was around €65 if memory serves. Just noticed on their website they're opening another one in Berlin. http://www.dospalillos.com/home.php
  6. A couple weeks ago I had the good fortune to be invited by Chefs Kurtis Jantz and Chad Galiano at Neomi's for another "Paradigm" dinner, this time as an observer and participant in the kitchen. The invite was the product of an online discussion between myself and Chef Chad, prompted by Grant Achatz's post on the Atlantic Food site about "open kitchens" and "interactive dining." Instead of bringing the chefs out to the dining room, they proposed instead to bring the diner into the kitchen. As an added bonus, Chef Chris Windus of BlueZoo in Orlando was also in as a collobrating guest chef for the 11-course tasting menu. It was a great experience, which I documented in a two-part running diary here and here, along with a wrap-up of "lessons learned." Instead of duplicating the extended narrative I've linked to above, I'm listing here the menu with links to pix (I've still not figured out how to put pictures up directly here). All the pix can be seen in this flickr set. raza' chowda' - razor clams, 83C potato, smoked tomato gel, bacon foam, mirepoix "food party" episode 1 - shropshire blue-cheesecake, fried chicken lollipop, hot sauce froth, carrots, celery corn & squash - liquid corn ravioli, laughing bird shrimp sheet, spaghetti squash, banana pepper hogs "headless" cheese - steamed brioche, rhubarb sriracha, pickled green peach, garlic scape mayo "refresh" - blood orange, piquillo caraway sorbet, kumquat marmalade cuban sandwich - pickled brined berkshire belly, wild turkey honey mustard, guanciale powder, "swiss miss" sponge, pickle froth tiradito - yellowtail, sweet potato polenta, cancha powder, coconut pearls, aji amarillo vinaigrette corned skirt - swiss orbs, pumpernickle streusel, ketchup caraway vinaigrette, beer can cabbage, kennebec chips foie - cherry drops, cherry relish, banana, white chocolate, dried sherry vinegar, basil, pistachio brittle yogurt - toffee foam, lime air, pineapple glass, raspberry textures, red pepper streusel caramelized brioche - coconut, queso fresco sorbet, vanilla evoo rocks, chocolate soil
  7. When Chef Bernstein came out, she went to one of the tables that had gotten a lot of attention from the FOH staff (esp the maître d' or floor manager) and talked to them exclusively; she didn't walk around the room to talk to the other tables. When I made an effort to say thank you to her, just as I had to our servers, she made no indication that she noticed or cared. Had this been an important part of the meal, I would have devoted more time to it, but frankly I don't care what list I'm on. However, as others have referred to the "see and be seen" quality of the place, the single-sentence mention seemed appropriate. ETA that the servers themselves, along with both bartenders, absolutely nailed the informal American service style with grace, intelligence, and aplomb. Anyone who's been to Miami knows that decent service is the exception, not the rule. (I got kicked out of Vintage Liquors on Rt. 1 in a tony mall in South Miami last night by having the proprietors shut off the lights while I was in the back ogling rums. Didn't buy anything.) So I'm talking only about the maître d' and Bernstein herself. ← Chef Bernstein is not the type that attempts to work the entire room (which I think would be difficult in a space the size of Sra. M - even more so when she's splitting her time almost every night between Sra. M and Michy's several blocks down Biscayne Blvd.), but I guess I can see how visiting just one table could come off as a snub. I think you're right on target in noting that the staff as a whole are informed and do a very good job taking care of the diners. The bar is indeed a gem (a tiny one, unfortunately).
  8. I'm not sure that the reference point for Dos Palillos is "Asian street food" so much as dim sum on the Chinese side and izakaya on the Japanese side. Having said that, it was a fun meal and I liked the price.
  9. This thread hasn't been updated in some time, and since I finally finished a magnum opus rundown on my several experiences at Michael's Genuine Food & Drink, I figured it was the right time. I first experienced Chef Michael Schwartz's cooking more than a decade ago when he was the chef at the then newly-opened restaurant Nemo on South Beach. The food at Nemo was full of flavor but still executed with something of a light hand, and for years the place was one of my favorites. Schwartz left Nemo several years ago after a falling out with partner Myles Chefetz, and pursued a few other ventures. Some of these went by pretty quickly - a brief stint at Atlantic in the now-demolished Beach House Bal Harbour then owned by the Rubell family (both the restaurant and the hotel were hidden jewels for a brief period of time); a menu of "beauty cuisine" at the short-lived restaurant Afterglo in South Beach. If there were a culinary award for "Comeback Player of the Year," Michael Schwartz would have won it in 2007. Following about a year behind Michelle Bernstein, who took a first bold step by opening up Michy's on a dodgy section of Biscayne Boulevard in 2006, Michael opened Michael's Genuine in late March 2007 in the Design District, another neglected neighborhood with no evening traffic whatsoever at the time (in any legitimate business activities, in any event). And people came. My first visit there was about a week after they opened, and I was immediately hooked. Here was a restaurant that felt like a neighborhood place but was still classy enough to bring a date or a client; food that was creative without being goofy, made with high-quality ingredients and a focus on local products; the "small plates" menu options made it possible to try a number of different items; and the prices weren't crazy. The furnishings are low-key but classy, with simple wood tables covered with white paper and a polished concrete floor, the primary decoration being a few large artworks on the walls and some big red-shaded rectangular lamps hanging from the ceiling. It reminds me of the kind of places we've been to in the Pacific Northwest - comfortable, casual, but still nice enough for date night. There's outdoor seating in the atrium out front which is nice in the cooler months, and a second dining room adjacent to the main space has been added - though it has something of a Siberian feel to it, the food still tastes just as good there. The menu is divided into "snacks," small, medium, large and extra-large dishes, as well as several vegetable side dishes. When they first opened, snacks were $4, and in two years that's only increased to $5-6. Prices across the menu have generally held steady, with most "small" and "medium" dishes being mostly in a $10-15 range and larger items (including the "extra-larges" which are meant to be shared) in the $20s-$40s. The food at Michael's Genuine has a few defining characteristics: a focus on artisanal, high-quality ingredients; a dedication to local and sustainable products (including neglected species and cuts); and a purity and vividness of flavor. This is a place that features things like Poulet Rouge chicken (an heirloom breed descended from French stock now being raised in North Carolina and Georgia), Fudge Farms pork (more on this below); locally sourced fish that you'll almost never see on a restaurant menu like pumpkin swordfish, cero mackerel, triggerfish, and golden tilefish; fresh local produce from Paradise Farms and Bee Heaven Farm; house-cured bacon and sausages; and "variety meats" like chicken livers, sweetbreads, beef cheeks, and pig ears all put to great use. Chef Schwartz styles himself as a disciple of Alice Waters (the chef, not the more annoying public persona of late) and it really shows in the menu. He even has a "forager" regularly hitting the produce markets and farms to source great product for him. But to focus exclusively on the ingredients and their provenance would pay short thrift to the creativity and quality of the cooking here, which puts out combinations like a beef cheek over a celeriac mash with a chocolate reduction and a garnish of celeriac salad (since replaced on the menu), or a crispy pork belly and watermelon salad with a soy-inflected dressing. Yes, much of the good stuff happens on the farm, but a good bit of it still happens in the kitchen too. On my blog I've given an extensive rundown of many of the items I've tried over the past two years, which I won't duplicate here. The menu changes quite regularly, and while there are some stalwarts, new dishes appear frequently, old ones come and go, some are just momentary inspirations based on what's fresh that week, and still others get tweaked here and there depending on what ingredients are at their best and what's interesting to the kitchen at that time. I have often said that I think this approach is one of the keys to a successful restaurant in Miami as, among other things, it gives the locals reason to come back repeatedly and provide a base business not subject to the fickle and seasonal whims of the tourist crowd. Indeed, I suspect the menu at Michael's Genuine probably changes more in any three-month span than the menu at Nemo has changed since Chef Schwartz left several years ago. Instead I'll just describe here the last meal we had at MGF&D a couple weeks ago. The "snacks" section of the menu is always a good place to begin, and this time around we had the crispy hominy, the puffed kernels fried and dusted with a sprinkle of chile powder and a squeeze of lime; the potato chips with caramelized onion dip, a favorite of Frod Jr. and Little Miss F (it also hits all the right nostalgic notes for the grown-ups); the falafel (another of Little Miss F's favorites, the balls of mashed chickpeas crispy outside and tender inside, and flecked with fresh parsley and mint); and a newer addition to the menu, crostini shmeared with a fresh goat cheese, an apricot thyme jam and a little sprinkle of micro-greens so fresh they seemed to still want to stand upright, a nice light warm-weather starter. Michael sent out a new item he's been working on for us to try, a crispy corned beef dish. Keep your eyes out for this one. Many of MGF&D's dishes work with what I think of as "complementary contasts" - crispy and tender, salty and sour, the contrasts keeping the palate refreshed - and this was a great example. A slab of super-tender house-cured corned beef is given a bread crumb coating and seared for a crispy exterior, and is paired with a creamy remoulade/Russian dressing sauce, and some finely julienned sauerkraut-like pickled cabbage. Crispy, tender, creamy, salty, sour - like the best Reuben sandwich you've ever had. Mrs. F literally grabbed my arm after her first bite, she was so excited by this (but then she has a serious Reuben fixation - she basically subsisted on Reubens when pregnant with Frod Jr.). We shared a couple more of the smaller dishes. The crispy pig ear salad is loaded with strips of shatteringly crispy strips of pig ear, tossed with tiny leaves of baby arugula, slivers of red onion, and thin disks of pickled radish (again with the pickled flavors - Chef Schwartz often makes great use of this flavor note). The strips of pig ear still visually reflect their origin (with a lighter strip of soft cartilage in the middle) but actually with the frying lose much of the ear-y texture some people find, well, eery. Frod Jr. wouldn't stop picking these off my plate. A local grouper ceviche, with a dice of mango and avocado, was one of the few disapppointments - not bad, just lacking the punch that MGF&D usually delivers. I followed with a Fudge Farms pork chop which nearly brought tears to my eyes. This is, simply, some of the best pork I have ever tasted - rich, sweet and densely flavored. A server once described this to me as the "prime beef of pork" and that's probably pretty close to the mark. And one of the things I so admire about Chef Schwartz's cooking is that he knows how to stay out of the way of a great ingredient. The pork chop is just brined and grilled, and served with simple pairings of an apple chutney and mashed turnips. And - as if to prove a point - this is not presented as a composed plate, but rather each of the accompaniments is in its own small bowl, so as not to mess with this great pork unless you choose to do so. Mrs. F had the grilled octopus as a main. The octopus (a big fat whole tentacle served as a "medium" dish) is first slow-cooked in olive oil at a low temp, and then briefly finished on the grill for a little crisping of the exterior and light infusion of smoky flavor, and served over a bed of fat white gigande beans, roasted red peppers, olives and a salad of torn herbs and leaves, all given a good drizzle of olive oil. Frod Jr. tried a new item for him - the Harris Ranch shortrib, which is roasted, cooled, sliced off the bone into planks and then also finished on the grill, served with a hearty romesco sauce. Little Miss F had a pasta dish of home-made fettucine with shrimp, strips of zucchini, shards of fiore sardo cheese and a generous dusting of black pepper. On prior occasions I've found Chef Schwartz's pasta almost too silky and slippery, so much so that it doesn't effectively hold the condiment. This iteration was tender and soft but had enough traction to grip the buttery sauce. The standout dessert of the night was a bowl of Meyer lemon curd topped with strips of candied peel, with a couple of dainty currant scones alongside as well as a couple Meyer lemon jellies. Like a mini English tea service for dessert, this perfectly captured the perfumey aroma of the Meyer lemons. Frod Jr. had his favorite, the chocolate cremoso. I'm still not sure exactly what "cremoso" translates too, but I know this dessert features a lusciously rich quenelle of dark chocolate, almost ganache-like in texture, with a sprinkle of coarse sea salt, a drizzle of peppery olive oil, a crispy sourdough crouton for scooping, and a cold espresso parfait for contrast. Though the combination of chocolate, salt and olive oil sounds exotic, it is actually a delicious spin on a traditional Catalan dish. Service at Michael's Genuine can be either outstanding or adventurous. There is a core group of veteran waitstaff who are consummate pros and an absolute pleasure to dine with, but there's simply not enough of them to handle the entire restaurant. For the remainder, there's unfortunately a lot of turnover, and while a few of them have stuck around and succeeded, there are usually always at least a few fresh faces. It's almost never a matter of bad attitude, just sometimes a lack of experience. The wine list has always done a pretty good job of providing decent value, and of late has made some notable improvements. I've always felt that the list slanted too heavily toward California cabs and Bordeaux blends, which I don't see as the ideal match for MGF&D's food. The selection of pinot noirs in particular has been bolstered lately, but I'd still love to see more options from the Rhone and Spain, which I think would be a better complement to Michael's menu. There's also a somewhat unheralded (at least by me) list of more than 20 mostly craft beers, including a creamy, malty Old Speckled Hen pale ale we had one evening in lieu of wine. Michael's Genuine has certainly not lacked for champions since it opened, with the New York Times' Frank Bruni naming it fourth last year in the solipsistic list of Top 10 New Restaurants Outside of New York and Gourmet magazine listing it in its Top Farm to Table Restaurants. Now a little more than two years old, it's refreshing and gratifying to see the restaurant is still regularly finding new and interesting things to put on the menu, still dedicated to local, sustainable and artisanal foods, and still absolutely at the top of its game.
  10. Jonathan Eismann, chef of Pacific Time in Miami, has opened up a new pizza parlor and mozzarella bar in the Design District, right around the corner from PT. Opening night was last night and I stopped in to try it out. I've got a post with a link to the initial menu here and a further report on our visit here. It's a small and simple place, mostly white and stainless steel with a bit of a color accent from some orange plastic chairs. There's a few rows of tables and some additional bar-height seating around the front windows. One one side of the entrance is the mozzarella bar, behind which in the corner is the wood-burning pizza oven. We started off with a sampling of the mozzarellas and their accompaniments, followed by a margherita pizza. There are a variety of mozzarellas to choose from - an organic Vermont buffalo mozzarella, Italian D.O.P. mozzarella di bufala and burrata, as well as cow's milk mozzarella in a variety of shapes from local producer Vito Volpe. These can be teamed up with a number of different pairings, and we added organic spinach and arugula leaves, fried zucchini, zucchini again in a fine julienne, braised fennel, marinated olives and capers, and trofie pasta in a light pesto sauce, all given a drizzle of balsamic vinegar and good olive oil (two more Spanish olive oils, one smooth, one more peppery, are on the table if you'd like to add some more). The burrata was lovely - silky, creamy and luxurious - but my favorite may have been the little ovolini from Vito's, which were nicely dense without being too bouncy. I also particularly liked the julienned zucchini, flavored with a pungent whiff of fresh mint and good olive oil. The cool mozzarella, with the various vegetables, makes for a nice light start to a meal while you wait for your pizza to emerge from the wood-burning oven. You don't have to wait long, as our margherita came out in about 10 minutes. I'd love to tell you that you can pick up the smoky essence of the wood-burning oven, but I'd be lying - I don't think the pie spends enough time in there to notice. It was a thin-crust model, the ridge of exterior crust crispy and the rest of it sufficiently firm to hold up the sauce and cheese, but not so much so that you couldn't fold it without it cracking apart (yes, I'm a pizza folder). The standout component of the bread-sauce-cheese trinity here was the cheese, Vito's again on the "baseline" margherita model, which I thought had a lovely milky, lightly salty flavor and great texture - melting but not stringy or rubbery. If you want to upgrade from the standard $9 margherita, you can go for the $13 margherita di bufala D.O.P., which brings Italian mozzarella di bufala, oven dried roma tomatoes, and Sicilian sea salt to the party as well. The list of pizza options is short, sweet and fairly traditional; there are also a couple calzones if you prefer your pizza stuffed. Locavores will appreciate the "Volante 100," with all toppings or fillings grown or produced within 100 miles of the store (though I should note that while Vito produces his mozz locally, I'm dubious he actually sources his milk locally). The menu also features a few sandwiches, a few pasta options, and a daily special (all old-school Italian stuff like lasagna, eggplant parmigiana, veal marsala) available to eat in, for take out or delivery. So - best pizza in Miami? Too early to tell without trying the other competitors for that title. Besides, I don't really claim to be a pizza expert. I grew up here in South Florida which is not exactly a pizza mecca, so I lack the years of fine-tuning the pizza palate that an experienced New Yorker might have. But there's already much here to enjoy: multiple varieties of fresh mozarrella with lots of savory accompaniments; really good pizza with high quality ingredients at a very fair price: and good cheap wines to wash it all down (18 choices for $18). Pizzavolante 3918 N. Miami Avenue Miami, FL 33137 305.573.5325
  11. I'm not even suggesting that Sergio's on Coral Way is worth a trip from Miami Beach.
  12. It may have also been Sergio's which is decent. The original owner of the Latin American Cafeterias, Luis Galindo, has more recently opened up at least one new one in West Miami, though I haven't been and haven't heard anything good or bad.
  13. I've been back several times since this post. My most recent report is here: Sra. Martinez - Miami Design District and gives a more complete run-down of the various items I've sampled. The menu, similar to Michy's, is in a somewhat constant state of metamorphosis. Some stalwarts stick around, but several items come and go, and still others get tweaked every couple months. As an example, one of the items I was underwhelmed by on one of my earlier visits, a sweetbread paired with a romescu sauce and caperberry, became on a more recent visit a sweetbread with a semi-sweet orange sauce with lettuce leaves which was vastly improved. The uni sandwich apparently was a huge hit at the James Beard Awards in NY recently.
  14. There is not much new under the sun in the way of Cuban food in Miami that is not already covered on this thread. I think some of the best advice is in Miami Danny's post above which if I may paraphase is (1) Cuban food is often good but rarely ethereal; and (2) there's a lot more diversity and variety in the way of Latin American food in Miami than just Cuban. Having said that, a few places that missed mention in this thread: - Enriquetas, a simple Cuban place in the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami (north of downtown, south of the Design District; a little rough but not "take your life in your hands" material during the daytime; plus it's a regular lunch joint for police officers). Best pan con lechon in town for my money. Closes early so it's mainly a lunch place. 2830 NE 2nd Ave. - El Palacio de los Jugos, out in West Dade, I haven't been in ages, lots of fresh tropical fruits for juices and batidos, vendors selling food, etc. - Sazon, in North Beach (on Collins near 71st Street). I like their garbanzos fritos studded with chorizo, and all the basics are done well. - Ola, in South Beach. Chef Douglas Rodriguez was one of the original "Mango Gang" here in Miami, then opened up restaurants in NY and a few years ago returned to open Ola here. It's changed locations a few times and is more upscale, contemporary and pan-Latino. Note also that the Coral Gables Chispa has closed.
  15. Curious - we ate in the modern downstairs dining room, which when we were there was the "smoking" room.
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