What's the Matter with Miami?

We just can't make anybody's A-list

5. Many of Miami's restaurants are overpriced. Blame this on restaurateur inexperience, Miami being a tourist destination, and, most of all, greedy landlords.

6. Immigrant restaurateurs provide some of Miami's finest low- and midrange eateries, but many monied foreigners who open upscale places in the United States have dated concepts of what constitutes contemporary American dining; the resultant restaurants serve food that is often more retro-Eighties than 21st Century.

7. It's not just immigrants who seem to be in the dark. The majority of American-born restaurateurs appear equally clueless when it comes to cryovacking, molecular gastronomy, organic foods, sustainable foods, raw foods, slow food, Spanish deconstructionism, and all the other exciting, innovative ideas sweeping the nation's gastronomic consciousness. The recently opened Afterglo shines a light on raw foods, Mosaico plays at reconstructing Spanish deconstructions, and a few other local menus occasionally reflect new trends, but otherwise Miami is out of the loop. If local hair salons operated at the same pace as our restaurants, the Jennifer Aniston look would still be hot.

PHOTO ILLUSTRATION BY JONATHAN POSTAL

Location Info

Map

Norman's

21 Almeria Ave.
Coral Gables, FL 33134

Category: Restaurant > Contemporary

Region: Coral Gables/South Miami

Michy's

6927 Biscayne Blvd.
Miami, FL 33138

Category: Restaurant > Contemporary

Region: North Dade

Johnson & Wales University

1701 NE 127th St.
North Miami, FL 33181

Category: Schools

Region: North Miami

Timo Restaurant & Bar

17624 Collins Ave.
North Miami Beach, FL 33160

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: North Dade

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8. Miami's gastronomic shortcomings also extend to the midrange eateries, both ethnic and non. In the latter category, there are few restaurants where a working-class couple can eat a soup or salad and a light main course for less than $50, other than at a diner. Not that we have many decent diners, or for that matter, much in the way of great barbecue, Chinese, or vegetarian restaurants. Our Mexican, Indian, Italian, and Greek establishments consistently fail to venture into any regional cuisine that transcends tired tacos, tandoori, tiramisu, and taramasalata. And most cities surrounded by water showcase any number of fine oceanfront seafood restaurants, as well as a multitude of rickety fish stands where a few bucks brings a paper plate or bag of freshly fried treats. Not us.

9. Urban areas such as New York and San Francisco draw top chefs from Europe and Asia, as well as young, rising talent from the best American culinary schools. Such chefs don't seek out Miami for the same reason Shaq didn't join the Clippers: Nobody voluntarily signs on with a second-tier team unless, of course, the money is extravagant. Regrettably many Miami restaurant owners have little grasp of the difference between a professional chef and a cook, and pay scales glumly reflect their ignorance. In other words, if you were an experienced chef with a degree from a prestigious culinary academy, would you choose a high-paying position with a cutting-edge New York restaurant, or take part in the moribund Miami scene for a lot less?

10. Very little real restaurant criticism is being exercised by the city's so-called restaurant writers. The role of a reviewer is that of consumer advocate, and when the reviewer is beholden to advertisers or PR agencies, that advocacy is compromised — to the detriment of a community's dining standards.

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