Game Is Wild, Price Is High

Empeek Cheke

The service of dinner also showed a lack of expertise: The plates, which were domed and wheeled to the table on a cart, had been placed in the wrong order, so each of us wound up with something different from what we'd ordered. A caesar salad, toted on the menu as being prepared tableside, was brought out from the kitchen already composed with a commercial-tasting dressing and croutons from a box. And clearly no one, including a manager who happened to be at the table at the time, knew what to do when an ant crawled out from under my venison loin. All I received in compensation was a shrug that said, "Well hey, you're in the Everglades."

Native desserts aren't offered, unless you count key lime pie. I've had so much key lime pie in my career I'm considering banning it from my diet the way I did tiramisu during that dessert's reign a few years ago. Regardless of your whim, however, the generous portions almost preclude stuffing down a sweet afterward. Best to get a little exercise covering twenty boards at the bingo tables before attempting it.

Nevertheless Empeek Cheke could go the distance by offering not only a Miccosukee-style dessert, but by serving fried bread, as the restaurant advertises. While we weren't too bummed by the buttery, flaky biscuits that were brought to us at the beginning of the meal, I had looked forward to the flat, fried bread that Native American writer Sherman Alexie so romanticizes in his poetry and movies.

Herb Stratford

Location Info


Empeek Cheke

500 Southwest 177th Ave.
West Dade, FL 33194

Category: Restaurant > Seafood

Region: Sweetwater/Westchester/West Miami


Wild boar sausage $8.95

Alligator tail Provençal $8.95

Caesar salad for two $10.95

Baked Florida grouper $22.95

Venison tenderloin $37.95

(at the Miccosukee Resort & Convention Center) 500 SW 177th Ave; 305-925-2559. Dinner nightly from 6:00 till 11:00 p.m.

The other problem with consuming such a heavy meal (and be warned, these game dishes are filling) is that it makes diners unwilling to face the long drive home. I recommend taking advantage of the "Indian Summer Daydream." Until September 30 (better hurry!), you can stay in the brand spankin' new hotel, sleeping on 280-threadcount Egyptian sheets and feather pillows and drying off with 22-pound, 100 percent-cotton towels for only $69 per couple (including breakfast). Make a weekend of it by visiting the local Miccosukee village the next day, or taking an airboat ride, or shooting your favorite gun at the range across the street. Just don't expect to play blackjack, roulette, or craps. Aside from bingo and poker, the only game not endangered at the Miccosukee Resort & Convention Center is video slots.

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