Thursday, July 28, 2011

Spiceonomics v.2011 (Part I)

It's that season again: Miami Spice season. For the next two months, diners go hunting for $35 dinner bargains, restaurateurs squeeze every bit of fat out of their food costs, line cooks go quietly crazy cranking out the same three items over and over again, and servers look forward to the generosity of their penny-pinching customers. Ah, what fun.

We've been over this before here, but to quickly reiterate my rules for navigating Miami Spice season: (1) there's no reason to bother with restaurants where a $35 menu is not a meaningful discount from their regular prices (though, of course, go to them if you like them; just don't do so because they're offering a Miami Spice menu); (2) the infamous chicken breast/farmed salmon/churrasco (or substitute short rib) "trifecta" is usually a tell; and (3) look for food that actually interests you. If a restaurant doesn't excite you the other 11 months of the year, it is unlikely there's going to be something really inspiring on their Spice menu.

As I've done the past couple years, here is a list of some places that look like they may be worth a visit based on the menus they've posted. Again, I'm not necessarily even listing all the choices on their menus, just putting together a meal I might eat. Note as well that I've not tried any of these yet, menus may change, there's still plenty of places you can get a good meal for $35 that don't do Miami Spice, and you might just have a more satisfying meal if you simply go to a nice restaurant and order what you like. Having said that, let's start with South Beach (the restaurant name links to their Miami Spice page so you can gander each restaurant's entire Spice menu if you wish):

(continued ...)

Sea Scallop & Kurobuta Pork Belly "Surf & Turf"
Dr. Pepper Hoisin, Vanilla Bean Miso, Pickled Scallion

Free-Form "Lasagne" of Crustaceans
San Marzano Tomato, Red Chile Flake, Orange, Sambuca

"Mexican Chocolate" Bread Pudding
Chile de Arbol Caramel, Cinnamon Ice Cream, Candied Almond

Pork Belly Tacos
Homemade kimchee

Coriander Roasted Cobia
Forbidden black rice, green onions, paradise farms mushrooms, peach curry sauce

Warm Local Mango Tart Tatin
Chilled mango lassi, pistachios, mango sorbet

Crispy Kurobuta Pork Belly / Thai Chiles / Basil / Radishes / Maple Syrup Glaze

Grilled Local Yellowtail Snapper / White Almond Hummus / Citrus Relish

Charred Shishito Peppers

Passion Fruit Crepe Soufflé

Beet and Beet's
Golden and red beets / watercress / marcona almonds / goat cheese / black pepper marshmallows

Arroz con Pato
sherry marinated duck breast / duck confit / chives / morel mushrooms

Coffee Tres Leches
vanilla orange segments / mandarin foam / chocolate sauce

Creamy Florida Rock Shrimp Risotto
Roasted Tomatoes, Zucchini, Garlic Lemon Butter

Braised Beef Short Rib, Grilled Prime Spinella
Dutch Marble Potatoes, Caramelized Vidalia Onions, Bordelaise Sauce

Key Lime Semi Freddo
Mango Cream, Brown Sugar Cake, Passion Fruit Sorbet

Alaskan King Crab Tail pan fried and served with baby bok choy and passion fruit butter sauce

New Zealand Lamb Chop Duo of Wood Grilled Lamb Chop paired with harissa spiced Lamb Slider with Mediterranean house made cucumber relish

White Chocolate Key Lime Pie with vanilla whipped cream and white chocolate shavings

Octopus, crispy potatoes, kalamata olives, pepper, toasted almonds, olive oil ice cream

Sea bass[1]
corn souffle, baby asparagus, corn shoot salad, black truffle, citrus brown butter sauce

Leche Frita
fried custard, toasted with cinnamon, butterscotch-chocolate and kumquat sauce

Crispy Sweetbreads
Charred Big Foot Mushroom, Golden Corn and Pistachio Butter

"Magret" Duck Breast
Stuffed Morel Mushrooms, Huckleberry and Green Peppercorns

Tocinilla del Cielo
Almond Cake, Raspberry and Caramel

Creamy Polenta
fricassee of truffled mushrooms

Mediterranean Branzino
razor clams, rock shrimp and tomato

Amedei Chocolate Cake
toasted almond gelato and salted caramel sauce

japanese dmplings, tonkatsu sauce cucumber salad

Florida Black Grouper Escabeche
local corn-truffle crema, crispy sweet potato, snow peas

Lucuma Natilla
sesame ice cream and cachaca-soy caramel

Nicoise Salad Tuna Conserva, Garden Beans, Soft Cooked Egg

Grilled Branzino, Baby Fennel, Fava Beans, Cerignola Olives

Rocky Road, Burnt Marshmallow, Manjary Chocolate Chunks, Toasted Almonds

Next post: North Beach and Mainland restaurants.

[1]I'm hoping they're using a sustainable product.

[2]Pro tip: Michael Bloise last at American Noodle Bar, is running the kitchen at Sushi Samba these days.

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