I don’t write in detail about all of my tried-and-true dining spots, as often as I’d like. I usually dedicate my posts to newer restaurants, travel itineraries, or listicles. Not today. Today I want to talk about one of my favorite local restaurants: Bourbon Steak Miami.
Eight years ago while shopping at Aventura Mall, I noticed a large ad for Bourbon. I’m not one to pay much attention to restaurant advertising, but I suppose anything is possible when you are hangry. Not being too familiar with the Aventura area dining scene, I quickly pulled up the restaurant’s website online and decided to give it a shot. Cordially greeted upon driving up to the valet area and happily welcomed by the hostess at the entrance, my experience started on the right foot from the get go. Minutes later, I found myself sitting in a posh booth inside their magnificent dining room ready for an early dinner. As much as the restaurant exuded grandeur and luxury, the accompanying service remained warm, accommodating, and professional. Needless to say, everything about Bourbon Steak impressed me that night. Since then, I’ve returned often: for regular dinner, brunch, special occasions, Miami Spice, dinner collaborations, and SOBEWFF events.
This Michael Mina restaurant concept first arrived at the Turnberry Isle Miami in 2007. Other locations were soon added nationwide: Los Angeles, CA; Santa Clara, CA; Washington D.C. and Scottsdale, AZ. Almost a decade later (anniversary is coming up this December), quietly and steadily, our Bourbon Steak continues to cement their spot in South Florida’s culinary history. Executive chef Gabriel Fenton victoriously leads the kitchen. When he’s not executing Mina’s staple dishes, he’s meticulously and proudly adding new dishes, using as many fresh and seasonal ingredients as possible. When I once campaigned (OK, begged) for the return of a memorable corn ravioli he once made, he wouldn’t budge; the corn wasn’t in season anymore and the quality would suffer (or so I was repeatedly reassured by the staff). Although I still dream about that one dish, I get it. It’s fun to dine throughout the year and find new additions to the menu based on what’s available.
The extensive wine list has something for everyone: by the glass, half or full bottle. An equally spectacular handmade cocktails & spirits list is available; syrups and garnishes are prepared in-house, juices are hand-squeezed daily, and mixers are poured from glass bottles. A clever signature starter (a trio of duck-fat french fries served each with a respective dipping sauce) arrives promptly, once seated, as the official welcome: smoked paprika fries with Mina’s BBQ sauce, rosemary fries with spicy ketchup, and onion-dusted fries with onion crème fraîche. If you still prefer to start dinner with bread over fries,
we can’t be friends, you can try Bourbon’s made-to-order buttery focaccia. Appetizers abound. My order almost always includes whichever version of foie gras is offered that day, the kurobuta pork belly, spicy Thai coconut soup, and/or the American wagyu beef tartare. As expected, Bourbon shows off their classic American menu with a fierce wood-burning grill steak selection. My go-to order is usually the Certified Angus Rib Cap. Or the Florida Grass-Fed Filet Mignon. Or the Rib Eye American Wagyu Filet. Or the…deep breath. It’s so hard to choose. Never overcooked. Never undercooked. Always just right. While the dessert list offers some Mina classics, such as the glorious Beignets (Tongan vanilla bean crème brûlée, Macallan 18 year butterscotch, and Valrhona chocolate pot de crème), I love trying the newer additions. Last summer’s Pastelito y Café (cream cheese mousse, guava, and espresso granita) infused a little local flavor and exemplified Bourbon’s commitment to keeping an interesting menu.
It has been my experience that most other local, upscale steakhouses function on autopilot, with very little room for authenticity and personalized service. Bourbon Steak’s dedication to excellence sets them apart from the rest. Besides the obvious commitment to the food served, the overall experience for the guest must be as close to perfect as humanly possible and it’s something they take very seriously. Don’t be surprised to find the staff kept a close eye the first time you dined, took notes of your preferences, and implemented details that fine-tuned a second visit. When I once voiced my dislike for broccoli in my truffle mac & cheese (not sure why, but it’s not listed on the menu), I never saw it again in my future orders. After wondering aloud just why I’d never been offered the first taste of a newly opened bottle of wine (an honor that always went to my husband), it never happened again. Ever. Whether for parties of two, twelve, or more, a dizzying amount of staff glides around refilling glasses, picking up tables, and refolding napkins. Wine is decanted masterfully nearby and refilled promptly. On one occasion, during a Far Niente pairing dinner for the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, over 250 guests were served at the same time with very little noticeable errors and more charisma from the staff than I’ve ever seen at any other event. Even as I sat back enjoying my dinner, I couldn’t help but notice and admire the graceful and arduous work it took to serve the same courses and wine to everyone as skillfully as the Bourbon team did: knowing glances, directive hand gestures, and constant communication on the floor. Believe me when I say I’ve attended more than my share of similar dinners without the same triumphant outcome. Kudos to everyone involved, impeccable hospitality at work!
The management team and staff work nonstop to showcase Bourbon at its best regardless of seasons: high, low, holiday, and everything in between. One of the best times to visit is during Miami Spice. While other restaurants get by with just offering mediocre options (seriously folks, get it together!), chef Fenton and crew create a couple of menus just for those two months. Not familiar with Miami Spice? Get the scoop here. The only drawback then becomes convincing them to add your overall favorites to the regular menu, because now you can’t bare to go without them. Not an easy task! Did I mention the famous corn ravioli I became obsessed with that one time, but never saw again? Exactly. A great new addition to their repertoire is the new Local Eats Dinner & Wine Series. Chefs from different restaurants come in for one night and collaborate on a menu. A must try! But honestly, special events or not, anytime is a good time to visit Bourbon Steak.
In a city so preoccupied with the latest trends, looks, and never enough attention to customer service, it’s nice to know a magical place such as Bourbon Steak exists: a modern steakhouse with classic roots, skills, and great panache.
Cheers to another 10 years and beyond!