Best of Miami Spice 2010

Best of Miami Spice 2010
Raw yellowtail with baby greens from Scarpetta

The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB), in cahoots with a klatch of corporate sponsors, is orchestrating the eighth annual Miami Spice event. The two-month program presents diners with a chance to select from discounted prix fixe menus at any of the 119 participating restaurants. More specific: a three-course lunch for $22 or three-course dinner for $35. More specific still: After tax, tip, and nonalcoholic beverage (water, coffee, whatever), a Miami Spice dinner costs about $50 (or $100 per couple).

The GMCVB claims the Spice offer "represents an average discount of 30 to 50 percent off the regular value," yet this is not always the case. While most working-class folks consider $50 to be an extravagant expenditure for eating out, some restaurateurs think it merely warrants a limited selection of small-portioned, no-frills items on restricted days. Others pull out all the stops, hoping to impress newcomers.

We deem the dozen establishments listed below the most generous of those that released Spice selections online in time for the August 1 start date. (Items at restaurants tend to change weekly; menu links are provided at ilovemiamispice.com/participants.htm. Many are evaluated on our food blog, Short Order, at blogs.miaminewtimes.com/shortorder.)

Raw yellowtail with baby greens from Scarpetta
Raw yellowtail with baby greens from Scarpetta

Location Info

Map

Blue Door at Delano

1685 Collins Ave.
Miami Beach, FL 33139

Category: Restaurant > American

Region: South Beach

Charlotte Bistro

Miracle Mile
Coral Gables, FL 33134

Category: Restaurant > Bistro

Region: South Dade

Gibraltar Restaurant

4 Grove Isle Drive
Coconut Grove, FL 33133

Category: Restaurant > Seafood

Region: South Dade

FB Steakhouse

4441 Collins Ave.
Miami Beach, FL 33140

Category: Restaurant > Steakhouse

Region: Mid/North Beach

Hakkasan

4441 Collins Ave.
Miami Beach, FL 33140

Category: Restaurant > Chinese

Region: Mid/North Beach

Meat Market

915 Lincoln Road
Miami Beach, FL 33139

Category: Restaurant > Steakhouse

Region: South Beach

Scarpetta

4441 Collins Ave.
Miami Beach, FL 33140

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: Mid/North Beach

Tuna's Raw Bar and Grille

17850 W. Dixie Highway
North Miami Beach, FL 33160

Category: Restaurant > Raw Food

Region: North Dade

Details

Miami Spice: Through September 30. Various locations. Visit ilovemiamispice.com for a full list of participating restaurants. View our Scarpetta slide show.

BLT Steak, Betsy Hotel, 1440 Ocean Dr., Miami Beach; 305-673-0044. Offer good Sunday through Thursday. James Beard-nominated Sam Gorenstein tenders a tempting trio of appetizer choices: charred Portuguese octopus, heirloom tomato-watermelon-poblano salad, and classic steak tartare with accompaniments. The main course is your pick of ten-ounce Black Angus flatiron steak, grilled local snapper, or lemon-rosemary organic chicken. Sides include charred shishito peppers, jalapeño mashed potatoes, and spicy barbecue corn. Finish with local mango cheesecake with mango sorbet, Valrhona chocolate mousse with vanilla ice cream, or a piña colada sundae with a raspberry macaroon.

Blue Door, Delano Hotel, 1685 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-674-6400. Offer good Sunday through Thursday. Diners can start with the restaurant's signature appetizer: jumbo ravioli filled with taro root mousseline and sauced with truffle-infused mushroom cappuccino. That's a great one, as are alternatives of salmon tartare with tapioca caviar and wasabi vinaigrette; buffalo mozzarella-tomato salad; and seared yellowfin tuna with marinated daikon. Enticing entrées are mango-marinated pork loin with black Thai risotto; free-range chicken with fingerling potatoes, wild mushrooms, Chinese okra pickles, and black truffles; hearts of palm risotto with giant shrimp, lobster foam, and white truffle oil; and Chilean sea bass with hearts of palm. The finale: raspberry napoleon with bourbon-vanilla ice cream or dulce de leche spring rolls with old Jamaica vanilla rum sauce.

Charlotte Bistro, 264 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables; 305-443-3003. Closed Sunday. The little bistro that could, does — starting with veal churrasco wrapped in phyllo; crab risotto and truffle oil emulsion; sea bass ceviche with tuna and salmon tartare; or fennel, apple, and crisp Brie salad. Entrées are rack of lamb, double pork chop, salmon fillet, or sea bass-calamari sofrito with mussels. Choice of four desserts includes signature Valrhona chocolate soup with house-made coffee ice cream.

Chef Allen's, 19088 NE 29th Ave., Aventura; 305-935-2900. Offer good every night. To start: blue crab cake with local mango chutney; salad with Maytag blue cheese; or oxtail Bolognese over orecchiette pasta. Mains are blackened mahi-mahi with clam-rock shrimp gumbo and farro risotto; tamarind glazed pork tenderloin with red bliss potatoes and creamed corn; or grilled hanger steak with house-made pineapple Worcestershire and hand-cut fries. Dessert is toss between lavender-Riesling crème brûlée with citrus butter cookie or chocolate-peanut butter napoleon with roasted peanut brittle.

Gibraltar, Grove Isle Hotel & Spa, 4 Grove Isle Dr., Coconut Grove; 305-857-5007. Offer good Sunday through Thursday. First course is golden gazpacho with shrimp; steamed littleneck clams with prosciutto; or organic spinach and arugula salad. Mains are swordfish salad; roasted organic chicken breast with potato croquette, heirloom carrots, and leeks; sweet water trout with lemon pine quinoa; and char-grilled petite filet with a fricassee of onion, mushrooms, bacon, and fingerling potatoes. Tempting takes on ricotta cheesecake, key lime pie, and panna cotta are dessert picks. Bonus: beautiful Biscayne Bay vistas.

Gotham Steak, Fontainebleau Miami Beach, 4441 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 305-674-4780. Offer good nightly except Saturday. Begin with heirloom tomato salad, yellowfin tuna tartare, or summer corn-jumbo lump crab risotto. A trio of entrées entails grilled hanger steak with fingerling potatoes and béarnaise sauce; miso-marinated black cod with Asian vegetables and sticky rice; or Berkshire pork ribs with barbecue habanero sauce and corn bread. Desserts are passion fruit mousse with coconut sorbet; tiramisu brownie with espresso gelato; and milk chocolate candy bar with salted caramel sorbet.

Hakkasan, Fontainebleau Miami Beach, 4441 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; 786-276-1388. Offer good Sunday through Thursday. Guests ease into the meal with a pair each of chicken and vegetable dumplings for the first course. Hot-and-sour soup or sweet corn soup comes next, followed by crispy sea bass; silver cod in Marmite XO sauce; sweet-and-sour pork; Szechuan shredded rib eye; or a stir-fry of scallops and pumpkin in black bean sauce. Choice of starches include hand-pulled noodles with wild mushrooms or salted fish-and-chive-fried rice, followed by jasmine-scented fruit soup with lemon verbena sorbet. A separate vegetarian menu is also offered (dim sum is the lunch Spice menu).

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