Best Restaurants to Bite the Dust - 2008
Norman's and Pacific Time
David Bouley Evolution. Johnny V South Beach. Mark's South Beach. Restaurant Brana. Afterglo. Cafeteria. Duo. Frankie's Big City Grill. Karu & Y. The list of this past year's local restaurant victims is as lengthy as a dessert menu at The Cheesecake Factory. The closings that shocked this town most, though, were clearly Norman's and Pacific Time — two of only a few true Miami landmark dining establishments. Norman Van Aken's eponymous restaurant showcased his New World cuisine, a brilliant blend of Caribbean and South Florida ingredients. When Norman's opened in 1995, it became a nationally recognized oasis for cutting-edge contemporary American cooking; cookbooks and fame followed. Jonathan Eisman was likewise a pioneer, in more than one way. He was the first to recognize Lincoln Road's potential — hard to believe that in 1993 his Pacific Time was the pedestrian mall's only real dining option. And he was an early passenger on the Pan-Asian express, certainly the first in these parts to pair seafood with a fusion of East/West flavorings. Alas, two of our finest have gone, but Van Aken is still going strong with his Norman's at the Ritz-Carlton in Orlando, and Eisman is undoubtedly getting set to jump ahead of the curve once again.