Tradition with Flair

Organic arugula salad offers light passage to the heavy main courses, the peppery greens tossed with paper-thin shavings of fennel and Parmigiano-Reggiano in lemon juice and fruity green olive oil. Signature chopped salad is too fussy, the diced tomatoes, vegetables, and Gorgonzola cheese molded into a ribboned round of cucumber, with lettuce leaves protruding upward like feathers in a headdress. As with the plantain chips, this is another instance where the Forge should stick to the way things used to be: a big bowl of easy-to-eat salad.

Some things never change: Steaks here are still as solid as an anvil. A requested end cut of boneless prime rib eye (Delmonico) was near perfect, the crust darkly caramelized on a torrid grill, the juices thus sealed within the meat like water in a balloon -- didn't need anything but a little salt and pepper, though a rich, veal-based chanterelle sauce on the side did manage to take it higher. Both the waiter and menu reminded us that the signature "super steak," a sixteen-ounce portion of sirloin dry-aged for 21 days, has been cited by Wine Spectator as "the best steak in America." It is damn tender, with noticeably deep beef flavor. No more Forge 48-ounce Porterhouse, as big as a dinosaur and now as extinct.

Five types of fish come cooked simply over oak wood or busily garnished with global accompaniments. The plainest presentation in the latter group is a center cut of swordfish, which was grilled to just the right point of doneness and crowned with a sparkling mélange of roasted red and yellow peppers, kalamata olives, capers, olive oil, and a drizzle of rosemary butter. Dover sole, on the other hand, could make Blackwell's list of worst-dressed fish, the delicate flesh flashily sauced with coconut pineapple rum beurre blanc. A two- or three-pound lobster would be a safer bet for uncomplicated gratification.

Formal attire and service from a bygone era
Jonathan Postal
Formal attire and service from a bygone era

Location Info

Map

The Forge Restaurant/Wine Bar

432 Arthur Godfrey Road
Miami Beach, FL 33140

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: Mid/North Beach

Details

05-538-8533. Open for dinner Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday 6:00 p.m. to midnight, Wednesday and Saturday 6:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.
432 41st St, Miami Beach

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A sweet and sticky "mahogany" glaze on oak-grilled chicken, in tandem with a fruity lingonberry sauce underneath, proved too cloying against the subtle, smoky flavor of the moist breast and nearly sabotaged an otherwise sensational sliced, boneless leg wrapped around savory cornbread-and-foie gras stuffing with parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme (if this makes you think of Simon & Garfunkel, you're old enough to become a waiter here). A savory mold of Israeli couscous and a scattering of oak-grilled vegetables are served with the bird, though your table might want to share a couple of sides just the same. A worthwhile one to try would be "hash browns Lyonnaise," a fancy name for a fat, potato pancakelike puck of creamy yuca capped with sautéed onions. Shoestring potatoes are too similar to junk-food potato snacks, so I was disappointed (partly in myself for not asking about the dish beforehand) that "truffle-Parmesan fries" brought a plentiful pile of those cold, crisp, skinny sticks with nary a trace of cheese -- and even less truffle oil.

Chocolate soufflé was moister than cake but not quite runny enough -- overcooked by a mere minute or two. Just the same, the full, smooth chocolate flavor was right on the money, which is why the full, smooth chocolate sauce seemed redundant -- crme anglaise would've been a better partner. Other desserts (key lime pie, cheesecake, chocolate cake, and the like) are big and sweet.

Though the Forge's food is convincingly contemporary, there are probably other dinner spots to which you'll want to take those hipster visitors from New York (though keep Shareef's place in mind for party night on Wednesdays). The Forge is more suited for special occasions, or when you crave a great steak and Bordeaux, or for those times you just want to escape this hectic world and enter a genteel realm of glass and distinction.

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