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Showing posts from July, 2014

Cobayapalooza at Shikany

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Typically, we use our Cobaya dinners as a way of turning a spotlight on a particular chef, to give them free reign to craft a menu that gives voice to their creative impulses or personal culinary obsessions. But collaboration has its rewards too, and we've long hoped to do a dinner that would bring together several local chefs to cook a meal.


That opportunity finally presented itself through the generosity of chef Michael Shikany, who opened the kitchen of his new restaurant in Wynwood – Shikany – to several other chefs for a "Cobayapalooza" dinner on July 16. Shikany and his pastry chef Jill Montinola were joined by Diego Oka of La Mar Miami, David Sears of SushiSamba Coral Gables, Mathias Gervias of the Setai, Danny Grant of 1826 Restaurant and Lounge, and Timon Balloo of Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill and Bocce Bar, who collectively put together a nine-course menu loosely organized around the great La Boîte spice blends made by Lior Lev Sercarz (each dish used a different L…

Big Things at Little River CSA

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For the past few years I've subscribed to a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) vegetable share through Little River Market Garden, and periodically (OK, sporadically) posted about it here. Muriel Olivares operates a flourishing, but small, "urban farm" from a couple lots in residential neighborhoods in North Miami which produce several dozen varieties of vegetables and fruits. Though it's self-evident from the primary subject matter of this blog that I enjoy dining out, I always get excited when our Fall-Spring South Florida growing season kicks in, and the weekly pickup from farmer Muriel inspires a bit more home cooking.


For this upcoming season there are several new developments of note. First off, there's a new name: Little River Cooperative, as Muriel has partnered with former intern Tiffany Noe to run the farm, CSA and nursery. It's even got a sharp looking new website. The partnership will enable them to add more growing space, which is also going …

first thoughts: L'Echon Brasserie - Miami Beach

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First it was an Asian gastropub. Then, Spanish tapas. Sushi. Italian. A steakhouse. I would joke that when the Pubbelly Boys opened a burger joint, they'd be able to declare Miami restaurant "BINGO!"[1]

Instead, they went a different route – their latest project is L'Echon Brasserie, located in the Hilton Cabana hotel, up in the northern reaches of Miami Beach (i.e., 62nd Street). This makes me happy for at least a couple reasons: (1) Miami lacks good casual French restaurants; and (2) North Beach is closer to home for me than the rest of their South Beach outposts.

(You can see all my pictures in this L'Echon Brasserie flickr set).


The hotel, well, looks like a Hilton. And the dining room too is maybe a bit more corporate than other Pubbelly venues, but it still keeps some of the same spirit, and has the added virtue of an outdoor bar backing up to the ocean. The food, meanwhile, is very much in the typical Pubbelly style: it takes the classic French bistro men…

first thoughts: Niu Kitchen - Downtown Miami

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About a month ago I stumbled across a short blurb on Eater for a "new Catalan-inspired eatery" that had opened in downtown Miami: Niu Kitchen. "A little intriguing," I said. Then several good reports came back from folks who had visited. A couple weekends ago, I finally made made it in to see for myself.


(You can see all my pictures in this Niu Kitchen flickr set).


Niu Kitchen turns out to be a shoebox-sized restaurant squeezed into a small space in a central but nondescript stretch of downtown Miami, a block south of the Miami-Dade College campus. Seating maybe twenty five, it was clearly decorated on a tight budget but succeeds in feeling both homey and contemporary, with its reclaimed wood paneled walls and exposed bulbs hanging from the ceiling.



It also turns out to not just be "Catalan-inspired," but the actual real deal. Chef Deme Lomas was a chef in Barcelona (I believe this is the place) before making his way to Miami, where he first found work as…

first thoughts: N by Naoe - Brickell Key, Miami

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When Kevin Cory moved his omakase temple, Naoe, from Sunny Isles to Brickell Key two years ago, he also leased an adjoining space which he said was eventually going to be used for lunch service. That day has finally come. And this is a lunch like no other you'll find in Miami.


Let's open the box on N by Naoe. (You can see all my pictures in this N by Naoe flickr set; you can also read my thoughts on Naoe here).




A few minutes after you're seated, a three-tiered bento box is brought to your table. It's unpacked to reveal six compartments, each stocked with several different items – similar in style and quality to the elaborate bento that starts a meal at Naoe.

(continued ...)

first thoughts

Let's be honest: the pace of reviews of Miami restaurants here at food for thought has not exactly been breakneck lately. There are plenty of reasons for that.

The past year particularly, I've written much more often about meals outside of Miami, or special event dinners here in town, than the straightforward Miami restaurant "reviews" that started off being the focus of this blog. This has always been a passion project, and so I tend to write about what makes me passionate. I think many of our local chefs do some of their best work outside the constraints of a regular restaurant menu, so I write about our Cobaya dinners to turn a spotlight on what they are capable of doing. Earlier this year I had the incredibly good fortune to visit Japan for the first time, where I had several outstanding, perspective-altering meals. Four months later, and I've still only written about roughly half of them. The "to-write" list from recent excursions to New York and L…