Showing posts with label liquored up. Show all posts
Showing posts with label liquored up. Show all posts

Friday, July 1, 2011

Let's Get Loaded

Looking for a way to extend the holiday weekend a little longer? This ought be cool. One night only, Thursday July 7, 8pm, $33 for 3 cocktails (and where it says "Very Special Guest Mixologist," I know of what is spoken here and it is true), and some fine bites from Chef Jeremiah Bullfrog. If you're interested, click above or here.

Speaking of Loaded ...

Friday, April 22, 2011

More Eating (and Drinking) than Writing

There has been a lot more eating than writing going on over here lately, for which I feel somewhat guilty. Also, more traveling than local dining. Here - if for no other reason than to assemble something of a to-do list - are some of the places I've been lately, and hope to write about eventually:


Jeffrey Brana Common Threads Benefit Dinner

Washington, DC

Café Atlantico (Nuevo Latino Dim Sum Brunch)
Central Michel Richard
We the Pizza


Purple Pig
Saigon Sisters

Some general thoughts by way of preview:

(1) Brana is the real deal. I hardly got to his brief-lived Coral Gables restaurant before it closed several years ago, and it's great to have another opportunity to sample his cooking. He's doing a series of private dinners for groups of 8-10, and from my experience at the Common Threads benefit dinner he put on, it may be among the best meals you'll find in Miami, in a restaurant or out.

(2) Overall, Chicago met pretty high expectations, while DC fell a bit short - though I can hardly claim that a brief visit of a few days can give any really meaningful impression of a city's dining zeitgeist.

(3) That said, one of the things that really stood out in Chicago was the multiplicity of funky bars with serious cocktail agendas. We stopped in at Maude's Liquor Bar and Watershed, and were completely charmed by both places. Maude's is a crowded, bustling place on the West Loop, newly opened but stocked with mismatched reclaimed furnishings and decorations for a purposefully dilapidated look and feel. They have a short list of classic old-fashioned cocktails (including five different smashes and a respectable, if unexceptional, Sazerac), great music, and a menu of mostly simple French bistro style fare put together by Chef Jeff Pikus, an Alinea alum.

(continued ...)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Work of the Cursing Class - or something like that

A couple interesting events and promos to pass along:

"Blue Hour" and "Green Hour" at Au Pied de Cochon

Au Pied de CochonPerhaps to compensate for recent news that they will not be staying open 24 hours a day, Au Pied de Cochon on South Beach is now pitching its "Blue Hour" happy hour(s) from 4pm-7pm, featuring bar bites priced from $2.25 - $9.50, $5 cocktails, $6 wine by the glass, and $4 for that quintessentially French staple, Pabst Blue Ribbon; and if you're in the biz, the late night "Green Hour" from midnight to 2am Thursday-Saturday with $3 cocktails, PBR and Kronenbourg, and $5 wine for those in the service and hospitality industry.

"About Last Night" at Pacific Time
Pacific TimeFor those possibly seeking a more intimate type of companionship, Pacific Time in the Design District is kicking off "About Last Night," a mingle with singles type thing starting 8pm on Tuesday, September 29. There will be an open bar for the first hour, then reduced priced drinks the rest of the evening, plus offerings from their small plates menu.

Here's my earlier thoughts on Au Pied de Cochon and Pacific Time. And here's where to go if you're interested:

Au Pied de Cochon
81 Washington Avenue
Miami Beach, FL 33139

Pacific Time
35 N.E. 40th Street
Miami, FL 33137

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Sketches of Spain

A couple meditations on Spanish themes to start the day:

por finPor Fin in Coral Gables is offering the chance to "Experience the Running of the Bulls Without Getting Gored." In celebration of the foolhardy annual tradition of running down Pamplona's cobbled streets with six one-ton bulls in chase (typically after staying up all night drinking the evening before), Por Fin is offering two-for-one drinks (including sangria and kalimotxo, the red wine & cola concoction that is one of the Basques' few uncharacteristically questionable contributions to gastronomy), $5 tapitas, and flamenco music from 5:30 p.m. to closing on July 8-12. Only four people were injured in the opening day of this year's run. Hopefully Por Fin's body count will be even lower.

Meanwhile, UrbanDaddy reports that Solea, a Mediterranean (hey - at least it's not a steakhouse!) restaurant in the new W Hotel South Beach, is open for business, and gives a link to the Solea menu which shows some prominent Spanish leanings. While UD picked up that the restaurant is managed by the same folks who run Quattro on Lincoln Road, New Times' Short Order adds that the chef team is Michael Gilligan (formerly of Atrio in the Conrad) and Norman Van Aken protege Arthur Artiles (last at the now-closed Brosia in the Design District).

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Slàinte! Artisan Scotch Dinner @ Neomi's

Scotch barrelsIn follow up to the "Great Whisk(e)y Debate" a couple months ago, Neomi's Grill in Sunny Isles will be doing an Artisan Scotch Dinner on June 25 in conjunction with Cellars Warehouse. The event features five courses of food pairings to go with selections from two independent bottlers of single malt Scotch whiskeys, Gordon & MacPhail and Signatory.

For more than a century, Gordon & MacPhail have been buying whiskeys directly from Scottish distilleries, aging them in cask and bottling them when determined to be at their best. Though they are only bringing four examples to the party, their inventory includes more than 450 of their own-bottled single malts, ranging from 5 to 60 years old. Signatory likewise is an independent bottler, producing what it calls "single, single, single malts" - bottlings from a single distillery, only particular distillations or batches from that distillery, and bottling only one cask at a time from those selections. There's a good rundown of a Signatory tasting on this Chowhound thread.

The menu, listed below, features several courses, each designed to pair with a particular whiskey (no doubt after much sampling in the kitchen).

‘warm ups’
foie gras, 85% chocolate, granola crunch
spinach pakora, curried raita
st. andre fondue, rye crisps
jamon iberico, sweet corn, almond

Benromach Traditional, Speyside, Gordon & Macphail

bbq’d copper salmon
ginger pickled daikon, toasted nori
honshemiji, wasabi froth, barley sushi rice, oyster emulsion

Laphroaig 7 year old, Islay, Signatory

malt duck
accents of fennel, drambuie, vanilla, citrus, soft herbs

Smith’s Glenlivet 21 year old, Speyside, Gordon & Macphail

arugula & watercress
‘brown butter’scotch, shropshire blue cheese
scotch quail eggs, grilled orange vinaigrette

Tullibardine Vintage 1993, Highlands, Signatory

wagyu & tatties[*]
low smoked brisket, black garlic, sea salted Kennebec potatoes
25 yr. scotch + 25 yr. sherry vinegar = glace de viande

Strathisla 25 year old, Speyside, Gordon & Macphail

cocoa & oats
honey almond sable, coffee-vanilla toffee, chocolate cremoso
oatmeal caramel & streusel, scotch air

Dunkeld Atholl Brose, Speyside, Gordon & Macphail

Festivities start at 6:30 pm with dinner starting at 7:00 pm. The price is $85, tax and service included.

Scotch Dinner

Trump International Beach Resort
18001 Collins Avenue

[*]What gives? Everyone knows those tatties should come with neeps.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Eos - Downtown Miami

I may have come across as not so warm to Eos, the new restaurant in the Viceroy Hotel from the Michael Psilakis/Donatella Arpaia team. But, despite my mixed feelings about big hotel restaurants from out-of-town chefs, I was pretty excited by the preview menu I saw and was looking forward to trying it. We finally did so this weekend.

Actually, we started the evening at "Club 50," the lounge on the 50th floor of the Viceroy Hotel, which itself is just a small part of the Phillipe Starck designed Icon Brickell Tower development (the Viceroy's website actually says the club is for Icon members and hotel guests only - whoops!). The Kelly Wearstler-designed space is unique, combining 1930's era shapes with a 1970's era color palette (black and white marble floors, teal walls, lime green chairs) for a rather compelling Goldfinger-esque effect. There was a familiar face behind the bar - the former bartender from Sra. Martinez (and before that Michy's), whose name, I'm embarassed to admit, escapes me (my bar tab said "Freddy" but that doesn't sound right). I tried a "Viceroy Old Fashioned," a variation on the traditional drink made here with Ron Zacapa Centenario 23, a Guatemalan rum made with from a blend of 6 to 23 year old rums aged in former Bourbon, sherry and Pedro Ximenez barrels, along with a dash of simple syrup, bitters, and grapefruit and lime peels. It was a good drink, a little lighter on its feet than the traditional bourbon version. Mrs. F liked their take on a pisco sour.

The restaurant was somewhat challenging to locate. We went down to the 15th floor, and then had to pass through some unmarked black doors and around a hallway to find it (it may be easier if you go directly from another set of elevators from the hotel lobby). From the receptionist's desk, we wound around yet another hallway and eventually ended up in the restaurant, also done up in similar style by Kelly Wearstler with one wall of horseshoe banquettes and a few long rows of tables. By 8-9 o'clock the room was roughly half full (it's a pretty sizable space) and had a decent buzz without being terribly noisy.

The menu, created by New York wunderkind Michael Psilakis, is almost all small plates, priced mostly in a range of $10-15, which stay true to his reinvented contemporary Greek stylings. A good number of these are raw fish items with unusual pairings (many ambiguously labelled as "sushi/sashimi" - more on that below), supplemented by several vegetable items, and some cooked fish and meat dishes. There's also a short listing of larger fish and meat items which can be had as an entree or to split. Our waiter suggested ordering about 4 of the small dishes each for a meal or a couple and a larger item as an entree. We stuck with the small plates and had nairagi and salmon "sushi/sashimi", a botan ebi ceviche, a cheese plate, smoked octopus, lobster and uni risotto, and a spiedini sampler.

We weren't sure when we ordered the "sushi/sashimi" items whether this was intended as an "Option A and B" or a generic descriptor (we said "sushi" just to find out). After all, sushi really refers to rice (and more broadly to various items served atop rice), whereas sashimi is sliced raw fish sans rice. It turned out not to make a difference what we said, as each of these brought three strips of raw fish (no rice) bedecked with their unusual pairings. Chopsticks were brought out for eating these. The nairagi (a Hawaiian striped marlin, whose flesh has a whitish-pink hue) was very nice - fresh, a bit meaty and firm like a swordfish, and the pairing elements (pistachio, apricot and speck) worked nicely, the predominant one being the crisped-up speck.

The salmon, on the other hand, was an unmitigated disappointment - fishy and oversalted. I couldn't even tell you whether the unusual accompaniments of mastic (a resin derived from a Greek evergreen tree), rhubarb and pickled mushroom might have been successful, as the quality of the fish and overseasoning made it impossible to notice anything else.

The botan ebi (Japanese prawn) ceviche, spiked with cubes of papaya, was delicate and balanced, with the large dice of shrimp still tender, but not very exciting. The presentation, in a tubelike elongated glass bowl, was beautiful but did not completely distract from the fact that this was a rather parsimonious serving for $12.

The cheese plate which followed was decent but unexceptional. Three cheeses - a Cabrales blue, a Brunet (a nice creamy, oozy goat cheese), and one firmer cheese which I'm not now recalling - were plated with some membrillo, some macerated raisins, and pasteli (Greek sesame candy). This last was an unusual pairing, as its super-crunchy texture and tooth-sticking qualities didn't particularly seem a good match for the cheeses.

The smoked octopus came with a dice of pineapple and batonettes of sopressata, served over skordalia (a Greek garlic and walnut sauce). The octopus was tender and flavorful and the dish was an inspired combination. I am generally a sucker for the pairing of seafood and pork products, and this was a good one, with the pineapple and skordalia both providing nice complementary notes. I would have liked more of this - and indeed, the one skinny tentacle seemed a little dainty for the $13 price tag. For $4 more, the octopus dish at Michael's Genuine offers a serving nearly 2-3 times the size (given the difference in location, it would perhaps be unfair to point out that the great $9 grilled octopus app at Anise Taverna is also probably also about 3x the portion).

The lobster and sea urchin risotto which came next was the best thing we had all night. The waiter brought a rimmed plate, on which was a raw egg yolk, a couple "tongues" of uni, and a dollop of caviar. He made a little production of breaking up the egg yolk and uni with a spoon and then, from a small pot, dished over them a rich lobster risotto, mixing it all together at the table. The little production is not just for show, as it helped preserve the uni's delicate perfume and kept it from being completely overwhelmed and overcooked. This was a luxurious dish, with the egg yolk adding further richness to an already buttery risotto. The lobster - and there was quite a bit of it - was completely tender and perfectly cooked, also not an easy feat. At $16, this dish was a fantastic value, particularly compared to some of the other items we had (though Mrs. F still claims she can make a better risotto).

The spiedini "Mia Dona" brought pork involtini (stuffed with melting cheese), quail, sweetbreads, merguez sausage, and lamb tseftalia. The sausages were the real standouts here, both the spicy merguez and the more delicate but still robust tseftalia.

Despite my kvatching about value and portions on some of the items, we ended up eating a good amount of food for about $90 and did not leave hungry (though the desserts did not interest Mrs. F anyway). A couple other nice touches - some complimentary petit fours at the end of our meal (a little muffin-like cake, a coconut marshmallow, and a passionfruit jelly); and the valet parking is fully comped by the restaurant (one of the real drags of hotel dining is having to pay for parking). Service was friendly, our waiter was helpful in guiding us on how much to order, and they did a good job of grouping the courses to pace the meal appropriately. But there were some lapses. For instance, although we were sharing almost everything and the dishes were mostly presented as "small plates", we were never given any extra plates for sharing - even when the spiedini sampler was presented on a skinny wooden plank laid across the middle of the table.

One other real oddity is that there is basically no wine list to speak of. The menu lists about 5 each of whites and reds and a few bubblies, with prices by the glass and by the bottle. I asked for a wine list, and was told this was it. I'm all in favor of the "carefully selected" school of wine lists, but that's a little ridiculous. And, if I recall correctly, not a single Greek wine on the incredibly short list, despite tremendous improvements in the quality of Greek wines of late.

I appreciated the creative menu, I always enjoy the small dishes format, and some items - the nairagi, the smoked octopus, the lobster and uni risotto - were very good, but there were definitely some misses too. It was a place I wouldn't mind going back to, but don't know that I'd actively seek to return. Unfortunately, the overall experience did little to dissuade me of my concern that we are getting the "brand" but not the talent of the famous restaurants that are opening up satellite offices here in Miami. Michael Psilakis' Anthos is one of only two Michelin starred Greek restaurants in the world. Eos is not going to be the third.

Viceroy Hotel
485 Brickell Avenue
Miami, FL 33131

Eos on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Whisky a Go Go

Is it a mere coincidence that the Great Depression came after several years of Prohibition? I think not. Indeed, it wasn't until Prohibition was repealed that this country emerged from its economic funk, with FDR declaring in 1933, "I think this would be a good time for beer." Or whisky. Of course, Prohibition actually did little to stifle whisky production, but don't let that distract from the point here - the times call for strong drink. Here to slake that thirst, a couple options for your consideration:

(1) On Tax Day, Bourbon Steak is hoping to "Raise Your Spirits" with half-priced cocktails ($6-$9.50), 25% off American whiskey and scotch selections, specially priced appetizers and entrees including their new bar burgers menu, plus live blues. 7:30 -10:30pm April 15.

Bourbon Steak
19999 West Country Club Drive
Aventura FL 33180

(2) A week later, on April 23, Neomi's Grill is hosting "The Great Whisk(e)y Debate," with master distillers comparing whiskys from around the world. 6pm hosted cocktail hour, followed by the great debate and grand tasting at 7pm, then stay for dinner as the chefs battle over who's got the best backyard BBQ recipe. $49 inclusive of taxes and gratuities.

Neomi's Grill
18001 Collins Avenue
Sunny Isles, FL 33160