This Photo Diaries page is a quick-reference guide to my Miami Spice dinners, updated as they happen, and consolidated into one post.
3540 Main Highway
Coconut Grove, FL 33133
August 31st, 2018
What I tried:
HIT There is no wrong way to order off Ariete’s Miami Spice menu. Every item on it can be a stand-alone star. When combined, it only makes the decision-making hard on the diner. I’m still in love with the Foie Gras (remember my 2016 obsession?), but another dish stole my heart this year. The badass Smoked Short Rib ($15 supplement). Not new to their menu, but certainly new to me! I can’t stop thinking about it. Layers of layers of pastrami-style meat and with a side of shaved vegetable Caesar salad. You can taste the passion in the seasoning and the feathered texture as it silkily shreds apart. TO. DIE. FOR.
MISS: Nada. Ariete continues to deliver: a true Coconut Grove gem. Miami Spice or not. Go!
August 17th, 2018
6730 Biscayne Blvd
Miami, FL 33138
What I tried:
Tried and true, year after year. Starting September 1st, Blue Collar will be offering the entire menu up for Miami Spice: choose an appetizer, entree, and dessert. You know what else? FULL PORTIONS. Get to it, Miami.
August 12th, 2018
Bourbon Steak Miami
Inside Turnberry Isle
19999 W Country Club Dr.
Aventura, FL 33180
What I tried:
As usual, Bourbon Steak delivered a next-level experience.
I especially recommend the Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras, Roasted Boneless Poussin, and the S’mores.
August 9th, 2018
8, SE 8th St
Miami, FL 33131
I can’t remember a time where I felt judged by someone at a restaurant for choosing to dine off the Miami Spice menu. Hello, Katsuya.
Take a look around my blog; this isn’t my first rodeo. I dine out. A lot. At small mom & pop shops. At bucket-list worthy stops. E-VERY-WHERE. The staff’s hospitality left a lot to be desired. Honestly, it shouldn’t matter whether a guest is well-dined or not. I can’t stand the thought of someone else innocently stepping out of their comfort zone and into the restaurant hoping to take advantage of the Spice summer promotion as their big night out and being treated that poorly. No, just no.
Katsuya recently opened a second Miami location (the first is in South Beach) at the SLS Brickell. Dark and sultry interiors, intimate rooms sectioned off within the vast space, and the booming jams coming off the speakers set the vibe from the second my girlfriend and I set foot inside. We were welcomed warmly by the hostess and escorted to our table. That’s where the hospitality ended.
The waiter arrived and happily welcomed us at first. He immediately jumped into a lengthy explanation on the “art” of dishes coming out as they are ready. You know, that way there is no “... downtime waiting for the next course. You are always trying something new,” he explained. I must have dozed off, given I’ve heard the spiel so many times. “Do you understaaaaaand?” he leaned in and asked slowly as if we didn’t speak the language, or perhaps were hard of hearing. I nodded and requested the Miami Spice menu. Dun, dun, dun!
His entire demeanor changed for the rest of the night. “You know the portions will be very small, right?” he cautioned, as he made a circle with both thumbs and index fingers to better show me what small meant. “Well, it’s a good thing there’s another menu I can order from if I stay hungry,” I replied.
What I tried:
The Soba Shiitake Salad (buckwheat soba and Asian mushroom ponzu) delivered a tangy punch and that comforting taste of well-cooked noodles. My friend’s (Jackman Florida) American Wagyu NY Strip also arrived nicely prepared with a combination of spinach, puffed buckwheat, and wasabi-brown butter, in beef jus. The biggest standout for me, however, was the Salty Samurai dessert. I didn’t want the salted caramel ice cream, and candied popcorn mix to end.
The portions were on the smaller side compared to other restaurants, but I felt they were appropriate for the quality and price (my lobster dish did have a $12 supplement).
The Kakuni Tonkatsu (Kurobuta pork belly + carrot puree, heirloom carrot salad) fell short. The outside, breaded and deep-fried, concealed the almost dried-out pork inside. I didn’t dislike the overall taste, but it resembled more of an egg roll. The usual decadent taste and tender texture of a Kurobuta pork belly was missing.
During dinner, our charming waiter and friends stood nearby seemingly smirking and looking over to our table. Part humorous, and part junior high, I thought I must have imagined or surely misinterpreted their behavior. I’ve heard diners complain about similar encounters at restaurants (a Miami Spice urban legend, I thought), but I always wrongly dismissed it thinking they must have misread the situation or perhaps felt intimidated by an upscale restaurant. While not all restaurants embrace this promotion (and I understand the hesitation), most have changed their outlook. I find the new Miami Spice era now welcomes diners during the slower summer months, use it to their benefit, engage patrons, and entice some to become regulars.
Within seconds of paying the bill (where the tip was, of course, included) our table was cleared of everything. Not one single item left. Water glasses and drinks included. Not even the candle. I had to laugh. We weren’t even worthy of the friggin’ candle! I stopped a waiter midway as he lifted my friend’s drink off the table and confirmed with her that she was, in fact, done with it. “Oh, sorry, are you done with this? May I clear it?” he finally said. We were obviously overstaying our welcome in their eyes. Really, all we did was sit and wait for valet to text us when our cars were ready. This meant our head waiter came by twice to ask if there was anything else we needed and, wait for it, rolled his eyes as he walked away. It’s not like they needed the table, several tables still sat vacant near us. In hindsight, I should have asked for my water glass back; I really did feel thirsty. But I was also done interacting with him and now am officially done with Katsuya. Dine at your own risk, friends.
August 3rd, 2018
4019 S Le Jeune Rd
Coral Gables, FL 33134
What I tried:
HIT: The Coconut Flan sealed the deal! Another great spice menu by Caffe Vialetto.
The newly remodeled Caffe Vialetto remains one of the most loved Coral Gables neighborhood spots. What’s not to love about Italian eats with a touch of Cuban and Argentinian ingredients?