The Good of Miami Spice 2014, Part One

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Courtesy of Milos
Get your fill of Mediterranean fish at Milos.
Another steamy summer, another Miami Spice. The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau is back with the oft-beloved, sometimes maligned dining deals that help fill restaurants during the slow summer months and give less well-to-do diners a way to eat in the city's most lavish spots at a fraction of the price.

Things are bit different this year. Gone is the dual-tiered system that didn't insult any restaurant, but slotted some into a less costly "fine dining" group and others into a higher priced "luxury dining" category. This year lunch is a flat $23 and dinner $39. One chef says this will help cover restaurants' food costs a bit, which hopefully will translate into better menus.

See also: MC Kitchen Launches Bar Menu: Shandys, Calzones, and Light Bites

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River Oyster Bar Moving Out of Brickell in 2015

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David Bracha and charcuterie at Oak Tavern.
David Bracha's River Seafood & Oyster Bar will make its long awaited move out of Brickell sometime in 2015.

Bracha, who also owns Oak Tavern in the Design District, has leased spaced on the ground floor of the rising Flagler on the River Apartment Towers being built by Argentine developer the Melo Group. They hope to secure two more restaurants for the space in the future.

See also: Tobacco Road Property Sold, Bar to Remain Open at Least Three More Years

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NIU Kitchen: Catalan Tapas Spot Shows Promise for Downtown Dining

Categories: Review, The Critic

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Co-owners Karina Iglesias and Deme Lomas.
Not long after sunset, downtown Miami is so deserted the click of a changing traffic light echoes like a gunshot. Once-bustling cafeterias and shops closed hours ago. In the inky darkness, steel shutters rattle in the wind.

But then you turn a corner and a cool-yellow glow pours onto the stained sidewalk. A subtle hum becomes boisterous chatter, clinking wine glasses, and clattering dishes. As you step in front of NIU Kitchen's plate-glass façade, you're sucked off the sidewalk and into a buzzing Barcelona-style tapas restaurant. The musical gurgle of emptying bottles of ruby-red tempranillo fills your ears. The nutty scent of toasting bread invades your senses along with the intoxicating aroma of fruity olive oil. After you settle into one of NIU's 26 seats, a warmth overtakes you, mostly thanks to co-owner Karina Iglesias, who with a devilish grin tops off your glass and then adds nothing to the check.

See also: NIU Kitchen: Playful Catalan Cuisine in Downtown Miami

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Food Critic Wanted for Broward/Palm Beach New Times

Categories: News, The Critic

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Photo by Rosy Outlook | Flickr cc
New Times Broward Palm Beach is looking for a restaurant critic.

The ideal candidate will have experience both reporting about food and writing long-form restaurant criticism.

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One Empanada to Rule Them All: Where to Find Empanadas de Pabellon

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Courtesy of La Latina
The empanada de pabellon from La Latina in midtown.
Argentines, Cubans, and Colombians, please accept my apologies. Your empanadas pale in comparison to Venezuela's beef-, bean-, and sweet-plantain-filled empanadas de pabellón.

Yes, your empanadas are delicious. Their flaky crusts, either baked or fried, are tantalizing. The savory fillings -- from Cuban picadillo to the cream, chicken, and walnuts in Argentine chicken potpies -- just don't match the addictive, perfect interplay of ingredients inside the pabellón.

See also: National Ice Cream Month: Mantecado, Mamey, and Azucar's Miami Flavors

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At AQ in Sunny Isles Beach, Dewey LoSasso Gets Fancy and Fanciful

Categories: Review, The Critic

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Dewey LoSasso inside AQ's kitchen.
Dewey LoSasso likes to have fun.

At AQ by Acqualina, the stylish restaurant that opened in a towering, Venetian-style Sunny Isles Beach hotel-condo this past April, the mustached chef plays with dishes such as green eggs and ham. A 20-minute wait precedes a bubbling martini glass layered with sweet mascarpone cheese tinted emerald green thanks to tiny chopped chives and an egg baked until the white is solid but still jiggly. The luxurious twin slices of fatty, salty jamón ibérico round out the Seuss-inspired starter.

See also: AQ by Acqualina: Dewey LoSasso's Whimsical Food in a Five-Star Hotel

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Former Giorgio Rapicavoli Protégé and Taperia Raca Chef Ryan Harrison Snipes on Twitter

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Happier times. Giorgio Rapicavoli, former chef de cuisine Ryan Harrison, and co-owner Alex Casanova.
Former Taperia Raca chef de cuisine Ryan Harrison took to Twitter last night, lashing out at his former boss and Eating House owner Giorgio Rapicavoli after Harrison left the MiMo tapas joint earlier this month.

See also: Taperia Raca Offers Easy-to-Enjoy Tapas in MiMo

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T&W Barbecue: Award-Winning Ribs and Barbecue in Cutler Bay

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All photos by Zachary Fagenson
Tom Wills at the barbecue helm.
After a few years of owning a small chain of local sandwich shops, Tom Wills decided he needed more. So the longtime Redlands man started traveling to Georgia and South Carolina to learn barbecue. He bought a trailer, started smoking baby back ribs, briskets and chicken wings, and winning competitions.

Those awards, mostly for their sweet-smoky ribs, hang on the walls of T&W Barbecue on South Dixie Highway in Cutler Bay. A line stretches from the service counter, where orders are placed and ribs and corn bread are dished, out into the dim, wood-covered dining room. Wills hobnobs with customers, plying construction workers to sit for a tall Styrofoam cup of sweet tea rather than return to the work site. Later, he spends a few minutes talking a family friend, coordinating carpool for the kids later that week.

See also: Renovated Uncle Tom's BBQ in Coral Gables Keeps Original Flavor (Photos)

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Tasting Menus: Miami's Gateway to the Big Leagues

Categories: Review, The Critic

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Executive Chef and proprietor Michael R. Shikany; lemon rose sorbet.
Perfectly ironed white tablecloths are topped with open glass orbs holding fresh-cut roses floating in water. The stems are twisted and tied around delicate blooms, creating bows that rise from the bowls. The rich cherry hardwood floor of Palme d'Or -- the opulent, awarded-winning French culinary temple in Coral Gables' iconic Biltmore Hotel -- is reminiscent of Versailles, Louis XIV's palace outside Paris. Wide, square mirrored columns with ornate crown moulding dot the room.

For $175 before wine pairings, patrons can slowly fill themselves with a 12-course meal that includes sea urchin, jamón ibérico, and delicately turned vegetables cooked in butter. Each bite is the creation of 33-year-old Gregory Pugin, who once traveled the world alongside famed chef Joël Robuchon and took the reins in 2011. Each grand meal lasts at least three hours. The fixed menu offers no choices besides the wine.

See also: Buns & Buns: Balance Could Lift Heavy, Rich Dishes

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Boteco: Where Brazil Fans Get Turnt Up for the World Cup

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All photos by Zachary Fagenson
Brazil fans party at Boteco.
Too bummed to keep watching the World Cup because your team is a pack of chumps save for one bearded messiah? Suck it up, amigo. Practically every match this tournament has been a nail biter, and they're only getting better today with two intraregional matchups sure to bring the ratchet out of every abuelita and grandmére.

However, the undisputed best place to watch Saturday's match between Brazil and Colombia, from Estádio Castelão in Fortaleza, is Boteco on 79th Street. Let's be honest; pan de bono and pão de queijo are essentially the same thing. Argue as you may, but it's clear Brazilians and Colombians both love their cheese bread.

See also: World Cup 2014: Miami's Brazilian-Themed Dishes, Drinks and Deals

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