Miami Spice 2012: The Good, the Great, and the Grudging, Part One
|Rosa Mexicano offers its signature guac.|
I somehow remember Hakkasan's menu being more impressive in past years. Still, it's a five-course menu, which is more than generous. Appetizers are a choice between charcoal grilled honey-glazed chicken, crispy prawn, or stuffed tofu puff. Next comes choice of soup, then choice of main course (crispy sea bass or braised chicken/tofu clay pot). Spring roll or fried rice is next, followed by mango custard or white chocolate bavarois for dessert. That's a full dinner for $39.
The Restaurant at The Setai
A creative selection of dishes, starting with branzino carpaccio; scallop dumplings with port wine-truffle emulsion; or warm Thai beef salad. Main courses bring beef hor fun noodles, yellowtail snapper, or Nasi goreng. These items reflect the span of Asian cuisine that the Setai specializes in. Dessert is Meyer lemon tart with meringue and strawberry sorbet, or pineapple velouté with herb sorbet. Intriguing.
The River Seafood & Oyster Bar
I would like to see a wider selection of fish ;as main course -- it's currently bacon-wrapped swordfish, gnocchi and blue crab with shaved black truffles, or cioppino as entree choice. Still, that ain't bad. Fire-roasted oyster, scallop tiradito with Scotch bonnet jam, and kale salad with roasted beets, apple, candied pecans, slab bacon and blue cheese vinaigrette comprise cool first course selections. It's blueberry crisp, guava cheesecake or coconut flan for dessert. Not available Fri.or Sat dinner.
This is a very simple selection of dishes, but it offers a diverse choice. Diners can start with soup of the day, or burrata cheese with roasted tomato and string beans, or veal sweetbreads with aged pancetta, brown butter, sage, and brussels sprouts. Main course is either fish of the day baked in the wood-burning oven, veal scaloppine with wild mushrooms, or goat cheese/spinach ravioli. Dessert is the "chef's selection." Not a menu to get excited over, but it would seem to promise a very good meal.
Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill
Diversity and creativity pull this otherwise less-than-stellar menu from grudging to good. First category is a choice between watercress/plum salad; corn/clam chowder; rabbit rillettes; or shellfish orzo. As I say, it's creative. Next course is either pan-seared duck breast with peach puree and butter-glazed brussels sprout leaves; roasted fish (doesn't say what kind) with moromi miso; or porchetta with smoked melon and farro. Desserts are strawberry shortcake parfait; cocoa nib profiteroles with milk chocolate gelato, or mini torrejas. Not available Fri. or Sat. dinner.
Like at sister Sugarcane, the Spice menu here impresses with highly innovative dishes. Openers encompass a corn tamale; quinoa teriyaki with sweet potato tempura; or chilled somen noodles with barbecue salmon and lime-garlic granita (which sounds pretty damn tasty). Main course brings sushi assortment, or seared bigeye tuna, or lamb shank, or paella with chicken and foie gras. Dessert is pineapple flan with curry foam and irigoma brittle, or chocolate-cashew mochi with mango curd and chocolate sorbet. Not available Sat. or Sun. lunch or Fri. or Sat. dinner.
|Villa Azur impresses with main courses.|
I appreciate that this menu is a bit different than others. It starts with an amuse buche (melon velouté), and then an appetizer of tuna/watermelon tartare. No choice? That's sort of stingy. Entrees, however, compensate: Option 1 brings rack of lamb or roasted sea bream back. Option 2, for sharing, is whole roasted branzino or a côte de boeuf (32 ounces) with béarnaise. That's very very generous. Dessert goes back to the lesser side: Nutella mousse or macaroon plate. Bottom line: Great main course bookended by grudging start and finish.
4525 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, FL