Miami Spice 2012: The Good, the Great, and the Grudging, Part One
Four courses rather than three is just one draw for this Spice deal. Another is the healthul aspect to a thoughtful assemblage of dishes. Diners start with choice of melon gazpacho or soup of the day. Second course is either mixed greens or heirloom tomato salad. Next comes seared chicken roulade with spinach, goat cheese, parnsip puree, corn salsa and guava guajillo glaze. Or red curried vegetables with pistachios. Or local mahi with artichoke barigoule, tomato-mint quinoa and micro Swiss chard. Each item is listed on the menu with numbers written below. For instance, the line on mahi is: 295, 20, 30, 7, 5 and 513. We'll assume these are linked to some sort of nutritional values. Dessert is between crema Catalana with Kahlua ice cream or lucuma cheesecake mousse.
Cascata Grille at Turnberry Isle
Lots of choice for starters (six), including heirloom tomato gazpacho, smoked salmon toasts, spicy calamari popcorn and Caesar salad. Second course is less than extravagant, but the plates contain generous sides. Bronzed salmon comes with spinach, Israeli cous cous, grilled pineapple and mango chutney. Pasta is dressed with roast duck, mushrooms, Madeira mascarpone and veal glace. Short ribs are rubbed with coffee/chili and served with goat cheese-laced polenta. Lemon-thyme roasted chicken is the fourth option, with herbed mashed potatoes and carrots. Mini cheesecake sampler is the less-than-inspiring dessert.
Cibo Wine Bar
The Spice menu here is short and sweet. Primi course brings a decision between shrimp diavola, meatballs with tomato sauce, or a prosciutto and arugula salad. Secondi is branzino, chianti-braised short ribs, or fettuccine with porcini mushrooms in cream sauce. Dolci delivers semi freddo with Frangelico zabaglione, chocolate Baci bombe, or a dessert pizza. Nice breadth of options within the concise framework.
|Jean Paul's House is worth checking out.|
Prices here are reasonable enough that the Spice deal doesn't represent anything major. Still, snapper tiradito, one of the Spice starter choices, is usually $12; lomo saltado is $24; add apple tart tatin with ice cream and salted caramel or suspiro de Limeña with Peruvian dulce de leche and Port wine meringue and it's a good deal -- especially in context of the cuisine here being worth trying. Not available for dinner on Saturdays and Sundays.
Rosa Mexicano South Beach
Anytime a restaurant adds a choice of alcoholic beverage to its Spice mix, it's got to be a good deal. Diners can choose from two types of margarita (including the signature pomegranate version), two beers or two wines -- although with the caveat that those who do so are using up one of their course options. Still, I don't mind sacrificing an espresso flan or cheesecake dessert for a cocktail. Plus the menu looks tempting, starting with guacamole, queso fundido, chicken tacos or tortilla soup. Entrees bring vegetable enchiladas; chicken tortilla pie; shrimp brochettes; or grilled skirt steak marinated in guajillo and pasilla chiles, with red bean-chorizo chili, corn esquites, salsa and tortillas. Not available for dinner on Saturdays.
This four-course menu encompasses about any main course you may be in the mood for: cedar-plank salmon, charred filet mignon, sea scallops, wood-roasted pork tenderloin and Springer Mountain Farms all-natural chicken. First course is tomato flatbread, tuna-avocado roll, or seafood-stuffed mushrooms. Diners also select soup of the day or salad. Dessert is a "mini-indulgence." If you're lucky, there'll be a live pianist playing during dinner. Not available for Saturday or Sunday dinner.
Wynwood Kitchen & Bar
This Spice menu is nothing to do cartwheels over, but the selections are solid enough and a fourth course is thrown in. First choice: gazpacho or black bean soup. Next: ropa vieja empanadas, pork belly, or bok choy salteado. Mains: grilled chicken with quinoa; vaca frita; pan-seared Florida "filet of fish"; or a vegetarian plate. White chocolate bread pudding and sorbet, from The Frieze, constitute the dessert choice. Not available for dinner Saturday or Sunday.
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4525 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, FL