Miami Spice: Deal or No Deal? Coconut Grove
|Gibraltar's menu is bright.|
Next up: Coconut Grove. Our perspective begins with the estimate that a Miami Spice dinner, after tax, tip, and nonalcoholic beverage, costs about $50. So the judgment is based upon this: Should a $50 dinner, in this specific restaurant, be considered a bargain?
(Note: If you want to see the actual menus, or at least those that have been made public thus far, head here.)
Keep going for a look at Bizcaya, Gibraltar, Ideas, and the Chart House (Coconut Grove doesn't seem to be a heavy participant this year). Deals? No deals?...
Here's an example of a menu that doesn't offer many luxe ingredients but shows generosity through creativity and upscale garnishes. First course is golden gazpacho with shrimp; steamed littleneck clams with prosciutto; or organic spinach and arugula salad. Mains are swordfish salad; roasted organic chicken breast with potato croquette, heirloom carrots, and leeks; sweetwater trout with lemon pine quinoa; and char-grilled petite filet with a fricassee of onion, mushrooms, bacon, and fingerling potatoes. Fancy takes on ricotta cheesecake, key lime pie, and panna cotta are dessert picks. Throw in gorgeous bayside vistas and the fact that Gibraltar is normally very expensive and, well, you've got a deal. Except Fridays and Saturdays.
There's a limited choice of two dishes in each category, starting with either asparagus stew with duck foie gras and poached egg, or octopus carpaccio. Tuna fillet over vegetable noodles is one entrée selection, braised pork cheeks with carrot and onion purée the other. Desserts sound decent: chocolate soufflé with dulce de leche ice cream, or crème caramel in red fruit soup. Because the menu offers unique selections that represent a solid savings over Ideas' usual upper-end prices, I give this a go. Barely.
Bizcaya at the Ritz-Carlton
This is one of the more appealing menus to make our no-deal list. Meaning swordfish crudo prepared ceviche-style with shaved fennel, celery hears, avocado, and orange would likely be a delicious starter. Soup and pear-spinach salad are the other choices. And a main course of halibut over black lentils with lobster foam and truffle-shaved asparagus salad sounds like a tasty dish, as does pork tenderloin over saffron risotto. Pasta pomodoro isn't the most exciting third selection, and dessert is "choice of warm crêpe soufflé maracuya." The offer is available nightly. Bottom line: For 50 bucks, we want more than halibut, pork, or pasta on our plate -- especially from a high-end hotel that doesn't depend on restaurant income the same way a privately owned establishment (such as Ideas) does.
The Chart House
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new frontrunner for worst Miami Spice menu. We'll start with the trio of main course choices: miso salmon, shrimp fresca, and braised short rib. There is no choice whatsoever when it comes to the starter (a chopped salad) or dessert (mud pie). Oh, and this deal is deemed so exceptional by the owners that they can't seem to bring themselves to offer it on weekends. We say to the Cheap House: Mud in your eye!