Best Restaurant to Bite the Dust - 2007
That restaurants die is a given. Just the same, the number of fatalities this past year seemed especially high, and cut across every ethnicity imaginable. The French bistro L'Entrecôte de Paris. The Italian Parioli Café. The Spanish Mosaico and, months later, its sister tapas bar, Salero. Madiba, the South African shebeen in South Beach. SouthWest NY, the Southwestern spot in the Dolphin Mall. The kosher Restaurant Juliette in Surfside. Even reliable restaurateurs like Dennis Max and Tom Billante experienced failure (Café Max in the Gables, Suga in SoBe). OLA South Beach closed and reopened a few blocks away (where Suga used to be). But nothing disappointed us more than the shuttering of Restaurant Brana after just six months in business. Chef Jeffrey Brana (formerly of Norman's) and his wife Anna Elena put their heart and soul into this elegant Coral Gables establishment, which boasted indigenous ingredients such as Indian River honey and Loxahatchee frogs' legs, and fresh produce hauled in from Homestead and nearby organic farms. Everything was homemade, from the whole grain bread to delectably dense Jamaican mint ice cream. Service was exceptional, as were the selections of artisanal cheeses and boutique wines. Gone, gone, gone. But there is a potentially happy ending to this story: The Branas are reputedly shopping around for a new location.