Miami Spice: Deal or No Deal? Hotel Edition
|La Marea is the real deal.|
Today we take a look at those hotel restaurants 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?
Keep going to find out the answers concerning Blue Door, Emeril's, Essencia, La Marea, Scarpetta, Solea, Tamara, Vida, and Wish...
Blue Door at Delano
Diners can start with the restaurant's signature appetizer, jumbo ravioli filled with taro root mousseline, white truffle oil, and mushroom cappuccino. That's a good one, but other choices are salmon tartare with tapioca caviar and wasabi vinaigrette, a buffalo mozzarella and tomato salad, or seared yellow fin tuna with marinated daikon. Main courses are mango-marinated pork loin with black Thai risotto; free-range chicken with fingerling potatoes, wild mushrooms, Chinese okra pickles and black truffles; hearts of palm risotto with giant shrimp, lobster foam, and white truffle oil; Chilean sea bass with heart of palm. Dessert choice is between a raspberry napoleon with bourbon-vanilla ice cream or dulce de leche spring rolls with Old Jamaican vanilla rum sauce. This Spice menu offers an appealing, creative, well-balanced choice of selections. Only good Sunday through Thursday.
La Marea at The Tides
Another creative menu, starting with seafood-jicama salad, tomato soup with lobster grilled cheese, or a popper trio with hamachi, tuna, and shrimp.
Mains are either yellow tail snapper with jasmine rice and edamame, braised short rib with truffled salsify puree, or NY strip steak with foie gras, tempura, and wild mushroom fricassee. Dessert: Buñuelos with Mexican vanilla ice cream, or cheesecake lollipops.
Scarpetta at Fontainebleau Miami Beach
Raw yellowtail with baby greens; burrata cheese with heirloom tomatoes and arugula; braised short ribs of beef with vegetable & farro risotto; creamy polenta with truffled mushrooms. Not bad for starters. Next: Signature spaghetti with tomato & basil; branzino with lobster fricassee; spice roasted chicken with polenta and morel mushrooms; bone-in prime aged sirloin of beef with trumpet royale mushrooms. Beautiful. Dessert is either chocolate cake with toasted almond gelato and salted caramel sauce, or mocha swirl cheesecake with espresso sorbet. Makes me hungry just typing the words. Available each night but Saturday.
First course: cherry gazpacho with manila clams; signature low-temperature egg in chick pea broth; ham croquettes; or chorizo and quail egg flatbread. Hearty second course selections are braised veal cheeks; roasted suckling pig; local seafood stew; or seared local snapper. Desserts weigh in with crema Catalana with cinnamon ice cream or chocolate ganache with passion fruit sorbet. Sorry, not on weekends.
Tamara at National Hotel
Wide array of choices, including onion soup, boston salad, Greek shrimp and orzo, smoked tomato fondue, and Prince Edward Island mussels . Main selections are likewise diverse, from Kobe meatballs to braised top round of beef with oxtail, to paella with seafood, chicken, and chorizo. Lots of other choices, too. Desserts are pots de créme, chévre beignets, and Key lime tart, among others. Offer good every night.
Emeril's Miami Beach
It starts well, with choice of daily gumbo, soup of the day, barbecue shrimp, or a golden beet salad. Entrées are mahi mahi, free-range chicken breast, double cut pork chop, or guava barbecue portobello mushroom. Lemon meringue tart, peanut butter chocolate mousse cake, or sorbet trio are the dessert picks. Sounds like you can get yourself a dinner that after tax/tip/etc. is pretty much almost kind of worth $50. That's no deal. Offer good every night.
Essensia Restaurant & Lounge
This is a case where an establishment is a victim of its own fair pricing. Choice of red pepper-potato bisque, organic orchid petal salad, or smoked duck salad is fetching, as are mains of yellowtail snapper with black Thai sticky rice and baby bok choy; rosemary roasted free-range chicken; and grilled loli pop pork chop. Chocolate chai pot de créme with bing cherry turnover sounds great for dessert, as does a coconut tapioca soup. But the three-courses are not much more if added up on the regular menu -- at which point you might as well pay the extra bucks and get exactly what you want. Places like this should consider adding another course or beverage to the deal.
Vida at Fontainebleau
Strange that the other Fontainebleau properties are all being generous this year, while Vida, the one place that probably wouldn't be worth wasting Spice on even with a generous menu, is going cheap cheap cheap. <<And get this -- it's $38 instead of $35. That's for main course choice of pasta, chicken, or short ribs. Are they kidding?>>
NOTE:A Fontainbleau rep contacted me to say that Vida's menu is $35 like everybody else's -- and forwarded a link to the hotel website that has the correct price. Turns out it was Miami Spice's error (it says $38 on the MS-linked menu), so we take back and apologize for the mockery. However: Still no deal.
Another joke of a menu. One of only two starter choices is bread!
OK, it's stuffed naan bread, but still. Other choice is artichoke salad, Entrees are salmon or hanger steak, dessert is panna cotta or a chocolate-hazelnut sandwich. This just might be the most miserly menu we see. Why bother?