With Miami Spice season starting on Monday, we've likewise begun our annual tradition here of looking for the most interesting, best value Spice menus local restaurants have put together. A few days ago we did South Beach. Here we'll do the Mainland.
Perhaps the most interesting Spice news to some is that Michael's Genuine Food & Drink, probably the most popular restaurant in town, is back on the list. I'd initially thought Michael's had never done Miami Spice. Chef Schwartz thought they'd skipped the past two years. Turns out it was actually three years, even though they did a Spice-like summer special in 2008 despite not being an official participant. Anyway, they're back, and there will be much rejoicing.
Remember the rules: don't seek out a Spice menu at a restaurant where a regular dinner costs the same thing; and don't settle for boring food. And again, I'm not listing complete menus here, just those choices that sounded most interesting to me (click the name of each restaurant and you'll go through to their Spice page, including the full menu).
There are a couple restaurants that I would have expected to make this list but didn't: DB Bistro Moderne, and Palme d'Or. Both are exactly the kind of places that usually make great Spice values: high end, high class restaurants where it's normally impossible to get out for anywhere close to $50 per person. But both seem to have really skimped on their Spice menus. DB Bistro's appetizers - soupe du jour, mixed green salad, or ceviche - are like a culinary Ambien. And of the entrées, three out of four aren't even what many people would consider a true dinner main course: pasta (spinach farfalle with ricotta and pancetta), salad (frisée aux lardons with duck ragout), or a tarte flambée (basically an Alsatian pizza).
Palme d'Or may not be quite so lacking in value, but doesn't exactly seem drawn up to inspire much interest either: first course options are a "mix beet root carpaccio" with endive and goat cheese, or a "braised beef terrine;" mains are lemon sole filet with leek confit or beef tenderloin with risotto. Very pedestrian, and not a very well-designed menu (if you're only offering two choices each for appetizers and entrées, does it make sense for one of the options in each category to be a beef dish?).
I have no doubt the food at both of these places will be well-executed, but neither is putting out a very compelling Miami Spice menu. One other menu I found amusing: Loulou Le Petit Bistro. They're pretty vague about what they're serving: appetizers are "soup of the day or appetizer of the day or organic mix green salad," entrées are an equally vague "catch of the day or special of the day or vegan lasagna." They've actually got a lot more to say about what they're not serving than what they are serving: "Loulou 'Le petit Bistro' will not serve Chilean Sea Bass, Shark, North Atlantic Swordfish, Marlin Sail Fish or Wild Bluefin Tuna in support of the Oceania Project NRDC and Seaweb's educational effort to speed the recovery of these endangered and threatened species." So maybe you can figure out what's on the Spice menu by process of elimination.
Without further ado...
Pan Fried Soft Shelled Crab
Green Papaya Salad, Chile Ginger Sauce
Braised Kobe Beef Cheeks
Parsnip Garlic Purée, Heirloom Baby Carrots, Pearl Onions
Almond Manjarie Daquois
Gianduja Gelato, Fried Pineapple-Apricot Sauce
House Smoked Salmon
confit fingerling potatoes, roasted beets
Imperial Farms Wagyu NY Stip Pavé
short rib croutons, jasmine rice, cilantro chimichurri
Bourbon and Peach Bread Pudding
vanilla bean ice cream
Wood Oven Roasted Local Eggplant
chickpeas, raisins, pinenus, local heirloom tomato, greek yogurt
White Oak Pastures Ribeye
black olive aioli, fingerling potato hash
Local Mango Semifredo
indian spiced coconut milk
Mediterranean Mussel Velouté
Laughing Bird Shrimp, Saffron
Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, Caramelized Leeks and Fennel Fondue, Caviar Beurre Blanc
Michy's Bread Pudding
Vanilla Ice Cream
Tempura Fried Hama Hama Oysters
Soy Caramel, Macadamia-Yuzu Citrus Dressing
Guajillo Glazed Miami Beach Swordfish
Avocado and Sweet Corn Salsa with Cilantro Butter
Scoop of "The Frieze" Sorbet
Escargots de Bourgogne
wild Burgundy snails bathed in herbed garlic butter
Confit de Canard
crispy duck leg confit served with mixed greens and pomme sarladaise
Chocolate Pots de Creme
Country Fried Quail
BBQ Beans, Slaw
Chorizo, Wilted Greens, Quail Egg
Greek Yoghurt Panna Cotta
Stone Fruit Preserves, Kaitafi
crispy oyster salad
avocado / chili / ponzu
fromage de tete
pickled cherries / brioche / pork jus
duck leg confit
frisée lardon salad / fried organic egg
gianduja mousse parfait
chocolate crumbs / candied hazelnuts
'corned' pork belly
vinegary cole slaw / asian bbq sauce
'tanglewood farms' koreatown fried chicken
sweet potato fries
georgia peach cobbler
 Not exactly the most ambitious dessert offering I've seen.