Miami Spice 2012: The Good, The Great and The Grudging, Part Two

Categories: Miami Spice
No lobster on db Bistro's Spice menu -- how about quiche instead?
See also: "Miami Spice 2012: The Good"

This three-part look at Miami Spice comes just as the dining program gets set to begin on August 1. There has been a split in price categories this year, meaning there is now a "fine dining" grouping as well as a "luxury" grouping. The fine dining price point drops $2 from the prior Spice price to $19 for lunch and $33 for dinner. The "luxury" spots -- meaning most of the places you'll want to go to for Spice -- have had the price hiked $4: $23 for lunch, $39 for dinner. Both restaurant groupings are appraised separately in each good, great, and grudging list.

Yesterday, we took a look at 22 good deals. Today: 18 Spice deals handed out with what I think is a somewhat grudging attitude.

The Grudging

$39 Menus

The three choices in each category are decent, but excepting the desserts, certainly not what one would normally order if dining at this elegant restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental. Diners can begin with choice of Asian-style seaweed salad, corvina ceviche, or a bay scallop bisque. Main course is either squid ink ravioli (with halibut mousse, which is admittedly a nice touch); "Hong Kongnese" fried rice with rock shrimp; and braised Wagyu beef cheek with Oriental mushroom ragout. Dessert brings a pick between mascarpone semifredo, soft-baked chocolate cake, or buttermilk panna cotta. Each comes garnished with alluring ice cream or sorbet (the panna cotta with white-peach-sauterne sorbet). Only available at dinner, and not on Saturday or Sunday evenings.

Caffe Abbracci
Apps bring a choice of penne with pink sauce, fried calamari, or Caesar salad. Entree is salmon with champagne/mustard sauce or veal or chicken scaloppine. Fruit sherbert or profiteroles are the dessert picks. On the plus side, American coffee is included.

Caffe Vialetto
Polenta and meatball, salmon crudo, or calamari tempura as a start. Fish of the day, ravioli, or chicken teriyaki is the main course. Dessert is dulce de leche flan or homemade chocolate cake ("the bomb").

Db Bistro Moderne
I don't doubt that a delicious dinner can be delivered via this Spice menu, but entrees and desserts are too bottom end for so high-end a restaurant. Starting with desserts: chocolate brownie, créme fraiche panna cotta, or a cheese plate. Granted, sorbet and ice cream respectively pair with the first two, but it's still sort of dull. Main course selections are quiche Lorraine; rainbow trout; herb-crusted chicken breast and peppered hanger steak. Starters are fine: soupe du jour, roasted beet salad, chicken liver mousse or crab salad with tomato consommé. Still, db can do better. Not available for Sunday dinner.

Sesame-crusted ahi tuna is OK for a starter, but beet carpaccio or a mezze plate are sort of cheap. Second course is between chicken tajine, salmon fillet, or beef tenderloin Madagascar. Dessert is baklava tart with honey-vanilla ice cream. (yawn). Not available Friday or Saturday dinner.

J & G Grill
Just two options in each category, and the dessert selections are downright wimpy: Molten chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream or cheesecake with rhubarb sorbet (although the sorbet sounds good). First course is wild salmon tartare or steamed shrimp salad. Second course is roasted mahi mahi or Wagyu flat iron steak. This is not what I go to J & G for. Not available for Friday or Saturday dinner.

Boy, talk about grudging: Spice is only offered for lunch, and the choice is between five bento boxes. On behalf of all the locals in town: Gee, thanks.

Mochi for dessert? Is that the best you can do? First course is hamachi ponzu or shishito peppers, cold sesame noodles, tuna air bread or house salad. At least there are lots of choices. Main course is between a flimsy five-ounce rib eye, crispy fish, hot pepper chicken or chef's choice of sushi. Oh Makoto, you disappoint.

Morton's The Steak House
House salad, onion soup, or Caesar salad, followed by a six-ounce filet mignon, salmon fillet, or chicken "bianco." Dessert is chocolate mousse or créme brulee. I'm getting bored just writing this.

Mr. Chow
"Each guest choose 1 dish from each course." First: fish dumplings, squab, chicken satay or Mr. Chow noodles. Second: Oyster beef, sweet & sour pork, velvet chicken or green prawns. Rice and vegetables come with each entree. Dessert is mixed sorbet or ice cream. Each guest get cheap meal for $39. Not available Friday or Saturday.

Location Info

Caffe Abbracci

318 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables, FL

Category: Restaurant

Azul Restaurant

500 Brickell Key Dr., Miami, FL

Category: Restaurant

Azul Restaurant

500 Brickell Key Dr., Miami, FL

Category: Restaurant

DB Bistro Moderne

255 Biscayne Blvd. Way, Miami, FL

Category: Restaurant

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Lee you are so correct.... I vas at Abbracci and Mortons last year for Spice...WHAT ARE JOKE!!!

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