Miami Spice: Deal or No Deal? All Points North
|Michy's croquetas are on the Spice menu.|
Today we take a look at those restaurants in North Miami, MiMo, and North Miami Beach 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 here.
Our perspective starts with the estimate that a Miami Spice dinner, after tax, tip, and nonalcoholic beverage 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 consider 94th Aero Squadron, Chef Allen's, Michy's, Ocean Prime, and Tuna's Raw Bar & Grille.
Did Allen or Michelle go cheap on us? One of 'em did. Read on to find out which.
94th Aero Squadron
Four starters to choose from, including escargots in mushrooms and signature beer cheese soup (since 1974!). Main courses are generous, encompassing lamb chops bordelaise, churrasco, mahi mahi topped with shrimp, a seafood "collage" os shrimp, salmon, scallops, mussels and clams with fettuccine. Desserts are predictable Key lime pie, flan, or chocolate Grand Marnier -- not sure what that last one means, but still, the 94th can be proud of these offerings. Available every night.
The Spice menu here is creative and offers generous sides with the entrees. To start: Blue crab cake with local mango chutney; salad with Maytag blue cheese; or oxtail Bolognese over orecchiette pasta. Mains are blackened mahi-mahi with clam-rock shrimp gumbo and farro risotto; tamarind glazed pork tenderloin with red bliss potatoes and creamed corn; or grilled hanger steak with house made pineapple worcestershire and hand cut fries. Dessert is toss between lavender-Riesling créme bruleé with citrus butter cookie or chocolate-peanut butter napoleon with roasted peanut brittle. Offer good every night.
Tuna's Raw Bar & Grille
Gotta love the spirit here. Seven starters to choose from, including Blue Point oysters Rockefeller; escargot bourguigon in mushroom caps; and mussels marinara. Next comes an intermezzo of lemon sorbet with a splash of champagne. Classy. Entrees include a 1 1/2 pound Maine lobster, a prime New York steak, shrimp Française, mahi mahi over linguine, lamb chops Provençale, and veal medallions forestiere. Swiss chocolate mousse cake, peach melba, or apple strudel a la mode are the dessert options.
Oh yeah, that's what I'm talkin' about.
Yeah, yeah, yeah -- you can end up with a satisfying meal plucked from this Spice menu. But the selections are surprisingly tightwad-ish. First course offerings are chilled corn-and-crab soup; watermelon and feta salad; asparagus with poached egg and jamon Serrano; and Michy's famous blue cheese-and-jamon Serrano croquetas. If you're not a fan of the Spanish ham, guess it's soup or salad. Still, starters aren't bad, nor are desserts, the foursome encompassing plum cake with pecan créme fraiche; chocolate bread pudding; lemongrass coconut creme brulee; vegan vanilla cupcake with almond milk strawberry shake. But entree is either pasta with almond pesto; veal scaloppine with fig-caper sauce, poached salmon, or chicken thighs with figs. Don't care for figs? Then it's pasta or salmon, buddy. Buddy more to the point: A chicken thigh dinner for $50? I say no, no, no. Not available Mondays (closed) or Saturdays (stingy).
It's a salad or lobster bisque for starters, sorbet or chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream for dessert. Still awake? The trio of entrees: hanger steak churrasco, crab-crusted tilapia, or ciopinno with clams and mussels (for fifty bucks they can't throw a shrimp into the stew?). Available every night, and why not? This selection probably yields as good a profit margin as the regular menu items do.