Miami Spice: Deal or No Deal? Coral Gables
|Pascal is offering berries instead of his baked alaska|
Today we take a look at restaurants in Coral Gables that have released their Spice menus. If you want to see the actual menus (or at least those that have been made public thus far), go to ilovemiamispice.com/participants.
Our perspective starts with the estimate that a Miami Spice dinner, after tax, tip, and nonalcoholic beverage (water? coffee?), costs about $50. And that most working class folks consider $50, or $100 per couple, to be a considerable sum of money to spend on dinner. They have a right to expect more than a no-frills meal.
So the judgment is based upon this: Should a $50 dinner, in this specific restaurant, be considered a bargain? We ask the question of Charlotte Bistro, Christy's Restaurant, La Palma Ristorante, Pascal's On Ponce, Randazzo's Little Italy, and Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. Half of these get the thumbs up, which which? Read on...
Chock full of attractive selections, starting with starters such as veal churrasco wrapped in phyllo; crab risotto and truffle oil emulsion; sea bass ceviche with tuna and salmon tartar; and fennel, apple, and crispy brie salad. Entrees are rack of lamb, double pork chop, salmon filet, or sea bass-calamari sofrito with mussels. Choice of four desserts includes signature chocolate soup with home made coffee ice cream.
Starter choices are spinach or caesar salad or soup of the day (boring, but the caesar here is a signature). Dessert is fudge brownie a la mode or Key lime pie (yawn). But entrees boast value: filet mignon with potato au gratin and sauteed spinach; herb-crusted rack of lamb with baked potato, asparagus, and wild mushroom ragout; and pan seared snapper with parmesan risotto cake, wilted spinach, and tomato fondue. Christy's is a pricey place; this is a deal. Good every night but Sunday.
La Palma Ristorante
Apps: Crab cakes; caesar salad; or prosciutto di Parma with parmesan mousse and fruit. Mains: 14-ounce New York strip, veal scaloppini, tortelloni, or salmon. Dessert is any item your heart desires from the pastry trolley. That sure seals the deal. Available every night.
Pascal's On Ponce
The three-course meal you create from this menu will almost certainly be tasty, but the pickings are slim, the items not exactly seeping with luxe ingredients. First course is either lobster bisque with corn flan or haricot verts salad with goat cheese "tartine". Main course is braised lamb shank with roasted garlic risotto or grouper with mussels. Dessert -- berries au gratin with orange sabayon or bittersweet fondant with vanilla ice cream. How do you say meh in French? Available any night but Sunday.
Randazzo's Little Italy
Salad or calamari to start. Cannoli, tiramisu, or cheesecake to finish. Spaghetti with Sunday gravy, chicken parmigiana, snapper Francaise, or veal scaloppini cooked just about any way are the mains. Fifty bucks? I don't think so. Offer is good every night. Not valid Mondays (restaurant is closed).
Ruth's Chris Steakhouse
Salad or crab-corn chowder to start, flan with fruit to finish. Jeez, how generous. Choice of either starch or vegetable with entrees such as fish of the day; stuffed chicken; barbecued shrimp, or 6-ounce filet with shrimp. Last main course ain't bad, but it's still stingy overall. Too stingy.