Miami Spice 2011: The Good, the Great, and the Grudging (Miami Beach)

Categories: Miami Spice
Does 1500 Degrees deliver on its Miami Spice menu?
Miami Spice 2011 begins in five days. Each year, we look at the menus offered and share our take on them. Some restaurants, as most locals already know, embrace this annual $35, three-course promotion with more enthusiasm than others.

Certain dining establishments are absolutely generous with the choices and availability (great); some offer solid if uninspiring deals (good); and each year a few places throw together so piddly a bill of fare that one imagines the owners have done so at gunpoint (grudging). We'll try to sort them out, beginning with some of the South Beach menus that have been released (and a few from Mid-Beach).

Caveat: We haven't eaten these meals, so we cannot comment on portion size. Our assumption is that food quality will be fine because we're not including all the crummy restaurants that participate.

Unless otherwise noted, the Miami Spice deal is not available for dinner Friday or Saturday evenings. The number of restaurants offering these menus on weekends seems to have dwindled dramatically. This in itself implies a certain grudging "we'll do the deal to fill our seats on weekdays, but that's it" attitude.

That said, let's get started.

BLT Hanger Steak.jpg
BLT Hanger steak
The Good

Asia de Cuba: This chic South Beach establishment offers many of its signature dishes on the Miami Spice menu. Choice of six starters includes the picadillo-style Tunapica tuna tartare; tropical calamari salad; lemongrass-skewered chicken; dumplings; Thai beef salad; and an Asian noodle box. Lamb, beef, short ribs, and crispy tofu constitute entrée picks. Desserts are a "chef's selection."

BLT Steak at the Betsy: Appetizer pick is from just one pair of selections: crispy Kurobuta pork belly with Thai chiles and maple syrup glaze; and heirloom tomato-watermelon salad with poblano and riccota salada. The trio of entrées is a ten-ounce Black Angus top sirloin cap; grilled local yellowtail snapper; and organic lemon-rosemary chicken. Extra points for letting diners select a side (charred shishito peppers, bok choy, or jalapeño mashed potatoes. Passion fruit crêpe soufflé or key lime pie with Greek yogurt sherbet are the dessert opportunities. Wonderful menu, but how about giving a couple of extra appetizer choices for those not in the mood to start their meal with pork belly or watermelon?

Blue Door Fish: Signature "Big Ravioli" of taro root mousseline with white truffle oil and mushroom cappuccino leads a trio of apps; tuna tartare and a Caprese-like salad compose the other two. Entrées are rainbow trout amandine; snapper à la plancha; and Kurobuta pork tenderloin au poivre. Fresh fruit sorbet, chocolate cappuccino with bittersweet chocolate mousse, and floating island are three tempting dessert choices.

Gotham Steak at the Fontainebleau: This Spice menu will shortly undergo revisions when new chef de cuisine Todd Miller adds his own signature touches. It's a solid menu as is. Appetizer selections are local heirloom tomato salad, yellowfin tuna tartare, and Florida rock shrimp risotto. Entrées bring choice of braised beef short rib and grilled prime spinella with bordelaise sauce; miso marinated black cod; and Berkshire pork ribs "Texas style" -- meaning with habanero barbecue sauce and corn bread. Key lime semifreddo with passion fruit sorbet or bittersweet chocolate mousse with vanilla ice cream are the dessert picks. Gotham will continue to offer its 50 wines for 50 percent off promotion every Wednesday in conjunction with Spice.

Hakkasan offers Miami Spice dim sum
Hakkasan at the Fontainebleau: Not three courses, but five -- albeit three of those five are to be shared. Meaning: Each person gets his/her own starter from a trio of honey-glazed chicken thigh, vegetarian spring rolls, and vegetarian hot-and-sour soup. One of these entrées per two people: sweet-and-sour sea bass; stewed beef tenderloin with dried chili; prawn with crispy wheat flake stir-fried lotus root, asparagus, and lily bulb; or braised homemade tofu with dried shiitake and greens. One of these two veggies per duo: stir-fried vegetable in oyster sauce or braised eggplant with toban chili sauce. Also one rice or noodle for two: fried rice with minced beef, vegetable fried rice, or crispy noodles with seafood. Dessert is a dark chocolate mousse with vanilla ice cream. No choice there, which is disappointing, but otherwise a magnanimous menu. Hakkasan likewise proffers a Miami Spice dim sum menu during lunchtime.

The National Hotel: Primero: pear and Roquefort salad; watermelon and feta salad; tuna carpaccio; or gazpacho Andaluz. Segundo: angel hair arrabiata; grilled lamb souvlaki; grilled sirloin over harissa crayfish risotto; or paella del mar with chorizo and arborio rice. Tercero: berries and mango sorbet; chipotle chocolate "decadence" with strawberry salad; or key lime tart with flamed meringue.

Quinn's South Beach: Four starter choices are signature Bam! Bam! shrimp; lobster bisque; ceviche; and goat cheese soufflé. Grilled churrasco and grilled chicken breast don't race the pulse, but the plates come fully adorned with sides, as does crab-crusted mahi-mahi. Fourth entrée choice is lobster/king crab ravioli. A quartet of desserts is offered as well.

Rosa Mexicano (Lincoln Road): Famed guacamole (for two or more), tortilla soup, or ceviche to start. Chicken enchiladas, mixed grill brochette, or salmon with fruits doused with mole are the main courses. Dessert: cheesecake or espresso flan. Not a very extensive array of dishes, but Rosa makes it into the "good" category on account of it offering the discounted menu on weekends as well -- a nice gesture for a Lincoln Road locale that could likely fill up without the deal.

Continue to the next page for the Greats. 

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Deborah Volz
Deborah Volz

This is the great blog, I'm reading them for a while, thanks for the new posts!

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