Saturday, July 30, 2011

Spiceonomics v.2011 (Part II)

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...

(continued ...)

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
($10 supplement)

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

Wild Salmon
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[1]

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

Crispy Whitebait
Remoulade Aioli

Country Fried Quail
BBQ Beans, Slaw

Garbanzo Stew
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
mascarpone cream

Happy hunting.

[1] Not exactly the most ambitious dessert offering I've seen.


  1. I am more excited about Miami Spice than I have been in many years...this post certainly helped!

  2. I like the sound of the chocolate pots de creme! Would love to try some.