Miami Restaurants

We were only in Miami for a few days, which meant only time to explore a few restaurants. Lunch on the first day was at one of our discoveries on our last trip:

Joe’s Stone Crab Carry-Out. While it is in the same building as the old-line, very stuffy Joe’s Stone Crab (a restaurant at which we had a terrible experience a couple decades ago, and to which we vowed we would never return), it is a world apart. This place is light, cheery, friendly and non-pretentious. It has a large selection of very fresh, raw and lightly steamed seafood, salads, soups and sandwiches and every size crab claw, from large through jumbo. You order the food at a counter, select wine from a rack (at retail, rather than restaurant prices) and sit either at a table or a counter.

We were there with Joyce’s brother and the three of us split a sinfully thick and creamy stone crab bisque, a large order of stone crab claws, lobster mac ‘n cheese and a salad, along with a bottle of Four Graces’ Pinot Gris. And since we can never have too much of a good thing (in this case, Tom with stone crab claws), the two of us returned for a second lunch, where Tom again had crab claws (selects), Joyce a tuna burger and we shared another bottle of Four Graces. Pricing is very reasonable and food and service is great.

We also had time for two dinners which surprisingly to us, and with absolutely no planning, turned out to be at the same hotel, the Thompson on North Miami Beach.

Talde.  It was time for dinner as we were leaving Art Basel and someone had recommended this Asian restaurant in North Miami Beach which was within walking distance of where we parked our car (traffic in Miami is painful and we did everything we could to not drive). Dining again with Joyce’s brother, the three of us split four very good dishes: bacon dumplings with shrimp and kale in soy vinaigrette, bacon pad Thai with fried oysters, egg, cilantro and chili, whole branzino roasted in a banana leaf with turmeric, tomato and chilies which we rolled into pancakes, and lemongrass pork chops with peanuts and a mildly spicy watermelon jam. We had this with a bottle of Ayoub Willamette Valley “Memories” pinot noir. A very nice meal with very responsive service.

Seagrape. The next night we were sans brother and had reservations at the newest of many Michelle Bernstein’s many Miami area restaurants, which happened to be in the same hotel as Talde. We began with gougeres with serrano ham, truffle fondue and sherry glaze (imaginative, large puffs with a filling of, and on a bed of very thick and creamy sauce that are light-years from the light, airy gougeres with which we are familiar). We followed this with two other appetizers: a delicious (if somewhat salty) order of steamed littleneck clams with chorizo in a tasty sweet pepper broth; and a standard (but nothing unique—especially after almost a month in Spain) grilled octopus with crispy potato, brava sauce, frissee and fennel pollen. Then, one main dish: a lovely, plain (yet delicious) piece of grilled swordfish atop a bed of very dense (too rich for our taste) pumpkin farro, black kale and lemon. Wine was a somewhat expensive, disappointing, vaguely barnyard-y red Burgundy, 2011 Christophe Ruissan St. Romaine. Service was slow, especially considering the relatively small number of people on a Sunday night. Overall, we much preferred Talde, a restaurant to which we hope to return.

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