Miami Beach Restaurants

After our trip to NYC, we had a  brief day and a half stop in Miami before meeting up with family for Thanksgiving in Fort Myers. We had barely enough time for three restaurants, another Art Deco architectural walk and some deceleration from our busy New York City schedule.Our only regret is that the timing did not work out to visit around Art Basel Miami: an art show to which we plan to revisit another year.

Miami Restaurants

Although we were especially anxious to try Michelle Bernstein’s new restaurant Seagrape, it had not yet opened in time for our visit. So, our three-meal quota gave us time for three new (at least for us) restaurants: dinner at The Bazaar by Jose Andres (although we have been to a number of Andres’s restaurants, this is our first visits to one of his Bazaars) and at Il Sole, and lunch of stone crab claws at the Joe’s Stone Crab Take-Away, a casual, lower-priced alternative to the original Joe’s.

The Bazaar by Jose Andres. A handsome, interestingly designed room which offers an unusual combination of traditional tapas (such as Serrano ham and Manchego and shrimp) and innovative tapas such as foie gras terrine encased in cotton candy and cones filled with sea urchin cream) . We had, and for the most part enjoyed nine different dishes, beginning with the aforementioned foie gras with cotton candy and ending with a deconstructed key lime pie (both more gimmicky than satisfying). Filling in our meal were a number of very good dishes such as Ku Pai Ti (cones filled with shrimp, peanuts and chili sauce), sea urchin with Peruvian purple potatoes, chili foam and Peruvian popcorn; seared scallops with toasted pine nuts in sherry; and a couple of satisfying but less compelling dishes including lamb shank with fried oysters, butternut squash and lamb au jus; South Beach chips (a combination of fried yucca and plantains) with a dipping sauce of yogurt and tamarind. All of this with a bottle of Unica Riserva Rioja, served by a knowledgeable and helpful, but only occasionally present server. Overall, a very satisfying dining experience.

Il Sol, the restaurant in the luxurious Villa by Barton G hotel in the fabulous mansion that had been owned by clothing magnate Gianni Versace (see additional pictures at https://www.forbes.com/pictures/mhj45effhh/casa-casuarina-miami-beach-fl-33/). The dining room, with its wall-to-wall pebble designs was beautiful. We, however, chose to dine outside on a deck overlooking the even more beautiful pool. But, as we had expected from the beginning, the setting was a much greater attraction than either the food or the service. Since we were still full from lunch (not to speak of from the chips we had with our afternoon marguerites), we limited ourselves to one dish apiece. Joyce’s paparadelle with lamb and beef Bolognese was overcooked and a bit acidic. Tom’s butter-poached lobster with mushrooms was certainly better, although it lacked any distinguishing flavors. The service, once we got past language barriers and misunderstandings with both our server and the sommelier–and once we explained to our server that our lobster couldn’t have come from California (his response to our effort to ascertain whether it was warm or cold water) was at best, competent. This being said, it was probably worth putting up with the mediocre food and service to experience the atmosphere. Don’t go there for the food and you won’t be disappointed.

 

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Joe’s Stone Crab Take-Away. We have boycotted Joe’s Stone Crab for over a decade since the stuffy main restaurant forced Tom to wear pants over his shorts on a hot Florida afternoon for lunch. Times change and so has Joe’s. Looking into the restaurant we saw people with shorts on (lunch time). Still we went next door to the Take-Away, which was a totally different animal–less expensive and much, much more casual. It is lined with food cases where you can view and order a range of light dishes and a retail wine store at which you can buy bottles at very reasonable retail prices to drink with your meal and a counter or tables. We sat at the bar to order and when we asked for two glasses of Four Graces Pinot Gris, our friendly server told us that we could get a bottle for the same price as two reasonably priced glasses. It worked for us and went very well with Tom’s large stone crab claws, Joyce’s lobster roll and some of the tastiest herbed onion rings we have ever had. One experience and we were converts. A great spot to enjoy the local delicacy. Good price, good service and good food.

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