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Quick Report on Miami Dining


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Guess I can't win for losing.  Up thread - I was told we shouldn't have expected a great dinner on Monday - since *the* chef wasn't in the kitchen on Mondays.  I agree with you though - a good restaurant should be able to function if *the* chef takes a day off.  On the third hand - if the named chef is never in residence (many have "chains" in multiple cities these days) - you can't judge a restaurant on the basis of his or her reputation - only on the basis of the food that the people who happen to be in the kitchen are serving up.

You are cutting the chef(s) way too much slack here; absolving them of any responsibility for their establishment(s). Not only do I think you can judge them, I think it's essential that you do judge them; in everything from the menu itself to the food it is ultimately the chef-persona that is accountable. If Mesa Grill Las Vegas can't hold a candle to Mesa Grill N.Y. for whichever reason...ultimately it reflects on Bobby Flay thereby affecting his reputation.

BTW - we took a peek at Ti Amo during the Fair (if I am thinking of the right place - it had opened recently - the interior was very nice looking - and there was a whole pig cooking on a smoker in front of the restaurant that day).  Looked like a place we have to try next time in Gainesville.  Robyn

It is located where The Sovereign used to be; a very nice building indeed. We didn't catch the pig though; maybe next time. If you're looking for decent food in Gainesville this is the best bang for the buck.

Edited for Punctuation

Edited by jbzepol (log)

Eat Well,


The Postmodern Soapbox - NominalTopic.blogspot.com

Twitter: jbzepol

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Note that my opinions aren't that important here - because I don't live in Miami.  The opinions that matter are those of people like my accountant and his wife - their friends and neighbors.  They are in-town frequent Miami diners - not vacationing trendoids or occasional business travelers like me - and it's people like them that will make or break a restaurant over the long run.  And their reaction to the restaurant was almost identical to ours.

Perhaps you and your friends are locals - but feel differently about the restaurant.  Suspect you do - judging from this.  In which case it will perhaps do ok over the long run.  You don't have to please everyone all of the time to be a good successful neighborhood restaurant - just a fair number of people a lot of the time - enough to get them to return to a place repeatedly.  That has been/is really a big problem in Miami (I lived there for 20+ years).  A lot of people are interested in this week's restaurant of the year for about 10 minutes - then they abandon it - and they're on to next week's restaurant of the year. 

I completely agree - too many Miami restaurants have made the mistake of seeking to capture the high-dollar tourist/business traveler trade at the expense of the repeat-customer locals who ought to be the base for a successful restaurant (y'know, the folks who will still be coming in the summer).

I do not think MGF&D is following that mold - the menu gets updated regularly, the chef is almost always in the kitchen, the prices have pretty much held steady despite the over-the-top national attention. It's tougher to get in these days but this is still - from where I'm sitting - a place that takes care of the locals and isn't trying to be trendy.

The fickle "lot of people" you refer to I think are primarily the transients, not the locals. If you put out good food, and it's not astronomically priced, I think the local market in Miami will reward it. As the thread you refer to shows, we've been singing MGF&D's praises well before Esquire or Bruni ever heard of it.

Florida has a tendency to be a culinary wasteland - so it's important to support local chefs who are at least giving it the old college try or better - even if they don't always hit home runs.

My point exactly.

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Drosendorf - Think we agree - almost 100%. Amazing :smile: . Were it not for the Bruni thing (I made my reservation before he wrote his article) - a place like Michael's would have had more of a chance to go from childhood to adolescence to adulthood without the burden of being a "child star". If you know what I mean.

Places like Bistro Aix - bb's and Biscotti's in Jacksonville - Opus 39 in St. Augustine - never had that spotlight pointed on them when they were really young. Gave them more time to work things out. Hit their stride. Even now - I suspect most people would be pleasantly surprised dining at these places - because no one expects anything more than fried fish and BBQ in NE Florida! I am not saying that these are destination restaurants (although Opus 39 is worth an overnight from someplace like Orlando - mostly because it is a very good restaurant in an attractive town - and St. Augustine in general is a pleasant weekend for most people in Florida and southern Georgia) - only that they are good places to eat if you happen to be here. Think the theme in SE Florida has to be not will you love me tomorrow - but will you love me in the summer :smile: . Here - we have many fewer tourists - so a restaurant has to depend on locals

Jbzepol - I can count on one hand the number of times I have ever been at a famous chef "clone" restaurant. In fact - the only times I can recall were during a trip to Las Vegas maybe 6 years ago. One ok experience (Circo) - one excellent experience (Aqua) - one lousy experience (Le Cirque). Swore off restaurants like that after that trip. I have never been tempted to try the 10th Nobu clone - or the 10th Robuchon clone (having been to the original restaurants of both chefs). Not that I never go to chain restaurants (they're essential for survival in Jacksonville) - but a place like Maggione's - good eats as opposed to fine dining - is about my limit when it comes to chains. I don't know. To me there is something really weird about a really expensive restaurant that's a chain. Robyn

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"Up thread - I was told we shouldn't have expected a great dinner on Monday - since *the* chef wasn't in the kitchen on Mondays."

I'd like to set the record straight-I was responding to your post that it was "extraordinarily crowded with a lot of tourists" on a Monday.

Locals know the food can be just as good with the chef not in the kitchen, as at many other restaurants; but as Mr. Schwartz lends a lot of personal energy to the room, locals like to see him there, and not even necessarily cooking. He's just so effin adorable.

My exact post was "I have to disagree with the comment that prices have gone up. As a local, I have eaten at Michael's since its inception. It is, in fact, still filled with locals, who know not to go on Monday because that is 'chef's night off', like everywhere else. Why anyone would want to try the best restaurant in town when the Chef isn't cooking is something only tourists do (some, of course, have no choice), so you are probably correct in assuming there were a lot of tourists there. "

If you'll notice, I never said anything about the quality of the cooking. Please try not to misquote me again for your own purposes.

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