September 12th, 2015
820 Alton Road
Miami Beach, Fl 33139
HIT: Cavatelli Macchialina
MISS: Location. I kid. This is me, just a bit bitter because I live in Broward and can’t come as often as I would like. Everything rocked!
Always a Macchialina fan, Miami Spice or not. While I prefer restaurants to be innovative during Spice season, Macchialina can get away with not doing so. Every single dish listed on the Spice menu comes directly off their regular menu. The portions are different, but still perfect for a three-course menu. Had I not given the Cavatelli the HIT award, it would have easily gone to the Burrata Tomato Salad. I will now and forever compare every other one I order to this one. In fact, just this past weekend I had one at NYC’s Nomad Restaurant that wishes it was even half as good as Macchialina’s, but I digress. Go. Enjoy. Repeat. Hurry. Clock is ticking!
September 11th, 2015
Pied a Terre
1702 James Ave.
Miami Beach, FL 33139
HIT: Mushroom risotto
MISS: Raspberry Cracked Profiteroles
I would like to have seen Pied à Terre include the usual amuse-bouche to the Miami Spice lineup as many other restaurants have done this season. Why should it be excluded just because one orders off the spice menu? The Mushroom Risotto was delicate, yet firm and bold on flavor. Just give me a bowl of that risotto and color me happy! The Raspberry Profiteroles seemed to have an unexpected heavy dose of basil; I did not enjoy them as much as the Deconstructed Log. Still, Pied à Terre delivered a seamless experience from beginning to end. The other items on the menu (Scallop Carpaccio, Terrine of Foie Gras, Ahi Tuna Tournedos, Beef Filet, and the Red Pepper Duck) could have all been listed under the HIT category. Hidden inside the Cadet Hotel, this is another restaurant you must visit.
September 5th, 2015
320 San Lorenzo Ave. #1315
Coral Gables, FL 33146
HIT: Cumin Spiced Lamb Shank
Granted, earth-toned dishes never photograph very well. I assure you the ones listed above (Baby Carrot Salad, Crispy Chicken, and Lamb Shank) were bursting with flavor: not a dull dish in sight. The lamb stood out from the rest and I actually chose to take it home instead of eating it there. Given its richness, I felt it needed to accompany a nice bowl of rice. The chef did offer to make me some, but I didn’t want to wait for it. Service was off during my visit. After an initial twenty minutes or so when no one had come by for our order, we started flagging down staff. Four tries later, our assigned waiter finally made his way to us. The staff seemed very nice, just not organized. You know, another day in Miami dining. I first visited Piripi last May. The restaurant has been through some changes since chef Kaanache’s departure earlier this summer. Judging by the full house of diners last weekend, they seem to be staying afloat. Once the restaurant is equally filled with an army of knowledgeable, professional, and dedicated staff, Piripi will solidify their spot on South Florida’s every-changing diningscape.
September 3rd, 2015
The Cypress Room
3620 Northeast 2nd Ave.
Miami, FL 33137
HIT The Pork Chop
MISS Desserts. Maybe.
There’s something special about The Cypress Room; Small and elegant, casual and grand, all at the same time. Service, as usual, was outstanding. Not one mistep. The generously portioned Pork Chop with beluga lentils, Thai curry, and spinach impressed me the most: cooked evenly to perfection and seasoned just enough to highlight its natural flavors. In fact, (including desserts) every single dish showcased a meticulous restraint of sorts. Not one thing tasted over or under seasoned and everything was plated with great care. If a Chocolate Caramel Tart or Semifreddo with Summer Fruit is your thing, then you are in luck. I appreciate the refined qualities in each. For me, the two dessert options were not any I would willingly choose off a regular dessert menu and that’s why they were a miss. Enter Cypress Room’s (complimentary-end-of-dinner) macarons. Oh how I love thee. Just bring me several of those and we can call it a day. The flavors are ever changing and I’ve never met one I did not like. This time? White chocolate. The Miami Spice menu will keep changing weekly until the end of September. Hurry in! This one is a keeper, Miami Spice or not! There is a reason every single table was full on a weekday night.
August 26th, 2015
The Gang Miami Restaurant & Lounge
3500 North Miami Ave.
Miami, FL 33127
HIT Tie between the Green Tea Crab Rangoon and the Malaysian Lamb Chops
MISS The Thai Wok Chicken and the “wall tile”
Loved the crab rangoons. I mmm-d my way through them. Sadly, there was not a single mmm to be had for the tough and inedible Thai Wok Chicken. Don’t get me wrong, the homemade egg noodles, vegetables, and lemongrass all worked nicely together (just not the chicken). Thankfully, the roasted Malaysian Lamb Chops took center stage and saved the day. Smaller than usual, but big on flavor. Overall, I would say SKIP The Gang Miami during Miami Spice. The same dishes can be had off the main menu for nearly the same cost as the Spice offer.
One more bone to pick. There’s no way the “dirt” is an aging treatment to go with the shoulder-shrug-not-trying-hard-but-still-cool-look-at-me decor. And if it is, it’s an awful one. Stop it. Wipe them. Once I noticed it over my husband’s shoulder, I couldn’t stop looking at it all night.
August 21st, 2015
db Bistro Moderne Miami
Inside the JW Marriott Marquis Miami
255 Biscayne Boulevard Way
Miami, FL 33131
HIT Tie between the Spiny Lobster Thermidor ($15 supplement) and the Cheesecake Sundae
MISS As expected, db Bistro Moderne is a class act. Nothing but HITS here!
Our Miami Spice choices:
Roasted Fig Tart, House-Made Cavatelli, Pan Roasted Cod, Duck Confit, Flat Iron Steak, Spiny Lobster Thermidor, Chocolate Ganache Triangle, Cheesecake Sundae, and the Assorted Cheese Plate
Not surprised to experience yet another memorable dinner at db Bistro Miami. Started the night with a warm and enthusiastic welcome by the staff highlighting everything on the menu (INCLUDING the Miami Spice specials- hear that, Seaspice?), and ended with a lovely basket of Madeleines (à la carte $8.00) and complimentary macarons. Everything in between was truly delightful. Sharpie this one on your calendar now!
August 20th, 2015
422 NW North River Drive
Miami, FL 33128
HIT Tie between the Salmon Rosette and the Orange Almond Butter Cake
MISS Don’t let Seaspice fool you, the Miami Spice lunch menu DOES exist! Why not have it readily available for diners? Upselling regular menu items repeatedly before and after presenting the Miami Spice menu is a turn-off.
Our Miami Spice choices:
Faroe Island Salmon Rosette, Yellowtail Snapper, Tres Leches, and an Orange Almond Butter Cake.
I won’t be rushing back. I loved the salmon rosettes and butter cake, but the spotty service, small portions (appetizer and cake), and underwhelming yellowtail snapper just aren’t worth my long drive (from Broward). Next!
August 6th, 2015
Inside Turnberry Isle
19999 W Country Club Dr.
Aventura, FL 33180
HIT The Maine Lobster Risotto with the yellow sweet corn and serrano chile
MISS Nada. It’s all good! Really!
Our Miami Spice choices:
Maine Lobster Risotto, BBQ Glazed Angus Rib Eye, Scottish Salmon “Pastrami,” Valrhona Chocolate Cake, Trio Sorbet Mini Pops (Guava, Coconut, and Mango), and Cracker Jack Sundae.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Bourbon Steak is one of my all time favorites. There’s a very simple reason Bourbon Steak’s Miami Spice menu reigns as one of the most talked about every year; they make it special. Most restaurants just add existing menu items to the Spice menu, make the portions smaller, and call it a day. Not here. Chef Gabe Fenton creates new menu items each year (and I then spend all year begging him to add my favorites to the regular menu, but I digress). You cannot miss this it! Did I mention the stunning interiors and impeccable service?
August 2nd, 2015
17875 Sunny Isles Ave
Sunny Isles, FL 33160
HIT The Pistachio Crusted Lamb Chops topped with balsamic and served with truffle glazed mashed potatoes
MISS The desserts
Freshly carved parmesan, bruschetta, salami, zucchini, and several different types of bread magically appeared all within five minutes of our arrival. Oh, hi there Mr. Waiter. We are done. Check, please! OK, not really, but you get the picture. We hadn’t even checked out the menu yet!
Our Miami Spice choices:
Mussels Posilipo, Caprese, Lamb Chops (additional $10), Ravioli ai Porcini, Tiramisu, and Homemade Italian Cheesecake.
While the desserts did not impress me, I did find the beautiful restaurant and its top-notch service intriguing enough to return for a (non-Miami Spice) second visit soon. I loved my lamb chops and the attention to detail throughout dinner. The staff went out of their way to make our party feel like long-time patrons.