Caribbean Cowboy Junkie

The same careful handling was evident in a risotto with scallops and lobster. Four pearly sea scallops, seared until just cooked, vied for attention with chunks of Maine lobster tail meat. (The lobster won by virtue of the dish's garnish, a whole roasted claw.) Though the risotto itself wasn't authentic -- the grains remained too separate to achieve that starchy breakdown, that perfect creamed cohesiveness -- as a rice casserole the combination was delicious, accented with corn cut right off the cob, peppery arugula, roasted peppers, and threads of fried leeks.

Corn-crusted yellowtail snapper was wonderful, revealing Vinczencz as a veritable colonel of corn. Coated with roasted cornmeal, the sauteed snapper was crisp outside, moist inside, resting on a lemon-scented boniato mash around which bubbled a roasted corn sauce. Smoked pepper relish, a chopped salsa, perched on top.

More fun with the chef's favorite participles -- roasting, grilling, mashing -- on the beef tenderloin entree. Two tender filets were cooked to order, posed on a "potato chip" mash of spuds stuck with waffled potato crisps. The beef was nicely complemented by a fire-roasted onion shredded over grilled portobello mushroom caps and tomatoes. A huge plateful of food, well worth the stomachache you'd get if you polished it all off.

Location Info


Astor Place

Hotel Astor, 956 Washington Ave.
Miami Beach, FL 33139

Category: Hotels and Resorts

Region: South Beach

By far the best entree, pumpkinseed-crusted rack of lamb, was simply outstanding. Three double-cut chops were generously battered with crushed pepitos, which became buttery when cooked. Inside the seal, the lamb was ideal, medium-rare and juicy, with a slight smoky tang. A chopped mint salsa underneath the meat was moistened by a natural lamb jus, and enchiladas stuffed with goat cheese and wild mushrooms paired the main course perfectly.

Like the appetizers, desserts can be experimental, and fun. We scarfed down a fried banana split that had looked so tempting in front of some kids out by the pool before dinner, the crunchy, caramelized bananas topped with a selection of that night's ice cream and sorbets.

But we left that baby grand alone.

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