Friday, August 24, 2012

(Miami) Spice of the Week

I've missed the first few weeks of Miami Spice season while on vacation, and frankly, after two weeks in Hawaii, could use some bargain dining. We go over this every year here at FFT, so here's the short-form version of my "Spice Rules":

(1) there's no reason to bother with restaurants where the Spice 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 that a restaurant doesn't have its heart in it; and

(3) look for food that actually interests you. If a restaurant doesn't excite you the other ten months of the year, it is unlikely there's going to be something really inspiring on their Spice menu.

The Miami Spice format is a bit different this year. There are now two categories: "Luxury Dining" and "Fine Dining," with different price points: $23 lunch / $39 dinner for "Luxury Dining," and $19 lunch / $33 dinner for "Fine Dining." And if you can remember which is which five minutes from now, you're smarter than me.[1]

I decided to do something a little different myself this year as well. I set out to see if I could come up with a "Week of Spice" - a Spice lunch and dinner for each day of the week that satisfied my "Spice Rules." Then for the real bargain hunters, I've added for each day an alternate dinner choice in the lower-priced "Fine Dining" category.[2]

Not that I would actually do this: I sure don't need to eat two desserts every day, nor do I really need to spend $60+ on restaurant meals every day. But it was a good exercise in picking what look like the seven best lunch and dinner menus being offered, including on Fridays and Saturdays (when some places have elected not to offer their Spice menus).

This is not a complete listing of each restaurant's menu (and menus change regularly anyway), just my personal picks of what sounds best. These are not listed in order of preference, and indeed some of the best are saved for the end, so I'd encourage you to wade your way all the way through.

(For an alternative take on this year's Spice menus, don't miss Miami Rankings' "2012 Miami Spice Awards")

(continued ...)



Chicken Liver Mousse
Shallot Marmalade, Dijon Mustard, Cornichon

Rainbow Trout
Crushed Potatoes, Baby Spinach, Glazed Radishes, Brown Butter Grenobloise

Cheese Plate
Dried Fruit Chutney, Grapes, Walnut-Raisin Bread

Dinner - J&G Grill

Sautéed Florida Pink Shrimp
Key Lime Yogurt and Red Radish

Colorado Lamb Shoulder
Parsnip Purée, Stone Fruit, Natural Jus

Lychee Panna Cotta
Passion Fruit, Mango Sorbet

$33 Dinner - Edge Steak & Bar[3]

Lake Meadows Natural Egg, Cheesy Grits,
Chorizo, Snap Peas and Sprouts

Pan Seared Florida Snapper, Charred Zucchini Salad
Mussel Vinaigrette, Saffron

Hot Chocolate Mousse, Butterscotch Custard,
Bananas, Salted Peanut Brownie


strawberry gazpacho / salted almonds / creme fraiche

palmetto farms pulled pork shoulder on brioche / spicy melon slaw / twice-cooked fries

peach trifle / sweet corn cake / blackberry sorbet

Dinner - Tuyo

Soft Shell Shrimp on West Indian Pumpkin Mash
with Madras Curry and Speckled Tomatoes

Grilled Spiny Lobster "Rundown"
with Gratin of Plantains Martinique

Coconut and Carambola Creme Caramel
and Wildflower Honey Glazed Palmier

$33 Dinner - Graziano's

Mejillones Mediterrananeos al Asador + Almejas + Tomatoes + Torrontes
Fresh Mediterranean Mussels farmed in Seattle + Littleneck Clams

Parrillada de Corderito + Costillar al Asador + Polenta Frita
Mix Grill - Pennsylvania Lamb + Beef Short Ribs + Fried Polenta

Crepes Souffles + Dulce de Leche


Lunch - Makoto

Welcome Course: Miso Soup, silken tofu, wakame

Spicy Tuna Crispy Rice, serrano chili

Chicken Robata, asparagus, corn, brussels sprout salad

Mochi, assorted flavors

Dinner - Michy's

Pulled, Picked, Pressed Pork Belly, Stewed Leeks, Pickled Cherries, Cherry Bacon Syrup

Grilled Swordfish Summer Clam Bake, Vongole Clams, Chorizo, Bliss Potatoes, Corn, Clam Broth

Deep Fried Summer Cherry Pie, Coca Cola Syrup, Vanilla Ice Cream

$33 Dinner - Barceloneta[4]

Ajo Blanco
Chorizo Sidra - Spanish chorizo, Valdeon cheese, apples, cider
Croque Monsieur - rustic bread, serrano ham, sauce mornay, black forest ham, mahon cheese
Remolacha y Cerezas - roasted organic beets, cana de cabra, amarena cherries, walnuts
Croquetas - creamy serrano ham fritters
Pork Belly and Clams - crispy pork belly, braised white beans, broccoli rabe
Fideos a la Cazuela - noodle paella, langoustines, rabbit, sobresada, asparagus tips, tomato confit, peas
Copa de Caramelo - salty caramel mousse, raspberries, chocolate crumble


Lunch - Toscana Divino

Carpaccio of venison and tartar of porcini mushrooms, toasted hazelnut and lime gremolata, arugula, truffle vinaigrette, 18-month parmigiano reggiano

Braised and seared baby pig, Tuscan white beans and kale, apple lavender relish

Honey and almond semifreddo, salted caramel sauce, vanilla Greek yogurt, biscotti di Prato

Dinner - Azul

"Thai" Lobster Bisque, Coconut Green Curry, Bay Scallops, Kaffir Lime "Air"

Australian Wagyu Beef Cheek, Sweet Soy Glaze, Forest Mushroom Ragout, Textures of Celery

Buttermilk Panna Cotta, Lemon Pain de Genes, White Peach-Sauternes Sorbet

$33 Dinner - The Federal

"Buffalo Style" Pig Wings
blue cheese mousse, pickled carrots, celery
Gilroy Garlicky Shrimp
head on, grilled lemon, garlic toast, herbs

BBQ St. Louis Style Pork Ribs
smoked low & slow, grilled corn, tart sour cherry slaw

Sweet Something of the Day


Lunch - Zuma

mizuna with bacon, miso and enoki mushrooms

branzino with pickled fennel, Japanese herbs and wasabi tofu

crispy chocolate goma bar with peanuts and banana ice cream

Dinner - Scarpetta

Creamy Polenta
Fricassee of Truffled Mushrooms

Cannelini Beans, Peperonata

Budine di Mascarpone
Mascarpone Custard, Mango Salad and Sorbet

$33 Dinner - Jaguar

Assorted Ceviche Spoons - choose three including Peruano, Oriental, Nuevo Shrimp of Calamari,
Los Cabos, Vuelve a la Vida, or Black Market

Moqueca de Camaron - large sautéed shrimp cooked with tomatoes, coconut milk,
malagueta peppers, dende oil and coconut flakes

Palomas Cajeta - fresh banana and cream filled crepes with a hint of liquor covered in dulce de leche
and sprinkled with hazelnut


Lunch - Hakkasan

Oolong Tea Set

Dim Sum Combo
Black Pearl Chive Dumpling
Golden Crystal Dumpling
Chicken Shiu Mai

Barbecued Combo
Grilled Lamb Skewers with Spicy Cumin
Crispy Five Spices Beef ball

Spicy Sautéed Shredded Pork

Chicken, Asparagus Congee

Mango Custard
Freeze Dried Mango, Coconut Sorbet, Carbonated Lemongrass Foam

Dinner - Bourbon Steak

Corn Ravioli
Brown Butter, Chanterelle Mushrooms

6 Oz. Prime New York Strip Pavé
Roasted Eggplant, Heirloom Tomatoes, Black Garlic and Caper Vinaigrette

Wild Blueberry Shortcake
Ginger Shortbread, Local Corn Ice Cream

$33 Dinner - Pubbelly

Croquetas - short rib, porcini, mint aioli
Dates avec chorizo - goat cream, bacon
Japanese amberjack - garlic chips, lemongrass romesco, hazelnuts

Duck & Pumpkin dumplings - orange, almonds, cinnamon, soy brown butter
Pastrami & Sauerkraut dumplings - white cabbage soy, 1,000 island, caraway

BBQ "Pork Wings" - smoked teriyaki, pickled cherry slaw, bacon
Pork Belly - kabocha, butterscotch miso, corn powder

Brussels Sprouts - bacon miso, sea salt



Lunch - Area 31

Local Fish Ceviche
spicy papaya, greek yogurt, puffed grains, cucumber

Crispy Skin Snapper
tomato-chorizo "fondu," baby summer squash

Brownie Sundae
pistachio ice cream, cherry jam

Dinner - The Dutch

Beer Steamed Clams
Middle Neck Clams, Panic Attack, Chorizo, Grilled Bread

Tasting of Pork
Salsiccia, Prosciutto-Wrapped Pork Loin, Creamy Polenta, Peperonata

Buttermilk Panna Cotta
Candied Almond, Strawberry Sorbet

$33 Dinner - Bloom

Sockeye Salmon Tiradito
coban chile, tomatillo salsa, cancha corn

Braised Oxtail Tamales
thai coconut rice tamale

Crab Huancaina Arepa
scallions, nori, eel sauce

Shaved Ice Bomb
with homemade syrups and fruit preserves


[1] The designation of a restaurant as "Luxury Dining" or "Fine Dining" was apparently based on someone's determination of the average price points on their regular menus, but it produces some anomalies, like Edge in the lower-priced category, and the not-so-luxurious "Fifi's Place" in the higher-priced category. Go figure.

[2] I'll confess I had some difficulty finding seven great lunch options; and if not for the sake of variety, there might be places that I'd include for both lunch and dinner on this list.

[3] As noted earlier, it's peculiar to me that Edge wound up in the lower-priced "Fine Dining" category, but a great deal for diners.

[4] Barceloneta, and its sibling Pubbelly, adapt the Spice 3-course agenda to their small-plates format by letting diners choose several dishes to share among different categories. I haven't tried either of them yet, but they look like a great bargain.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Thanks for the post. Crazy how they figure out and price these restaurants.

  3. Hey there nice post, It sounds good when we have another food blogger, I have also my own food blog named "Food Quarter". I am new for blogging and looking for the best blogger for following his guidelines.