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Showing posts from June, 2011

Jeffrey Brana Vegetarian Dinner

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I am nothing if not omnivorous. And so you may be wondering why it is that I elected to sign up for a vegetarian dinner hosted by chef Jeffrey Brana and his wife Anna, who are running a Saturday night Private Dining Club with a different theme for every dinner.

The answer lies in that very omnivorism. While I eat everything - really, truly, just about everything - that certainly includes vegetables, and I enjoy a vegetable dish prepared with care and attention equally as much as any bit of pork or foie. Indeed, particularly in a tasting-menu format, there is often something exhausting about the parade of multiple animal proteins that so often serve as the centerpiece of multiple courses. I'm clearly not the only one who feels that way, as several notable restaurants now do vegetable tasting menus (Thomas Keller's French Laundry and Per Se, Charlie Trotter's, Curtis Duffy's Avenues, to name just a few).[1]

Plus, I was curious to see what Chef Brana could do when limited…

BGR The Burger Joint - Coral Gables

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Some people ask me why there aren't more negative reviews here at Food For Thought. Or, to put it another way, they give me grief because I like most of the places I write about. I think most of my commentary is balanced: I'm not a cheerleader, and even most positive write-ups will offer some criticism too. But it's true that I don't often outright pan restaurants here, even though those kind of rants can be the most fun to write (and read).

Why is that? There are a few reasons. First, I see it as my primary mission to help people find good things to eat. The easiest way to do that is to write about good restaurants. Yes, I could also write about bad restaurants and warn people away from them, but that kind of process of elimination seems rather inefficient.

Equally, if not more important: I like to eat good things. I really hate having a lousy meal. And as a rather dedicated eater, one of the things I've learned to do pretty well is to figure out how to avoid them…

Café Boulud's New Chef Jim Leiken

When word broke last week that Chef Zach Bell of Café Boulud in Palm Beach would be leaving, speculation immediately turned to the question of who would replace him. That question has now been answered: Jim Leiken.

Leiken will be heading south from New York, where for the past two years he's been executive chef of Daniel Boulud's DBGB Kitchen and Bar. Leiken's resumé is the kind that should warm the hearts of lowly line cooks everywhere. After an unpaid externship at the now-closed March restaurant and a brief stint at the also-now-closed Tabla, Leiken joined the Boulud empire at the bottom of the totem pole of the flagship Daniel. After three years he had worked his way up to a promotion to executive sous chef at the New York DB Bistro Moderne, then DBGB.

Leiken steps into some decent-sized shoes: Bell was a three-time nominee for a James Beard "Best Chef" award while at Café Boulud. Wonder if we'll hear from him again, as he goes into the "private sect…

Cobaya 31 - Area 31 with Chef E. Michael Reidt

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It's always exciting when we have the chance to get a nationally recognized chef like Michelle Bernstein to cook for Cobaya, like we did last month. But for me it's equally exciting when we can find someone who may not be on everyone's radar screen already. From the number of our diners who weren't familiar with Chef E. Michael Reidt, or hadn't been to Area 31 at all, our dinner this past Monday would fall into the latter category. I hope they feel like they've made a happy discovery.

Area 31, a restaurant with a sustainable seafood theme, opened about two years ago; but being hidden away on the 16th floor of the Epic Hotel in downtown Miami it can easily elude notice, particularly by locals. John Critchley was the chef until about six months ago, when he departed for Washington DC (he's now at Urbana) and was replaced here by Chef Reidt (who was traded from Baltimore's B & O American Brasserie).[1] Chef Reidt actually has some Miami connections fr…