The Best of Miami issue: How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee for the breadth and depth of your pages, for your biblical proportions, for your wise (-ass) advice. I love thee to the level of every day's most quiet need to find the best burrito, the best kids' menu, the best menu typo. I love thee freely, as customers strive for quality and restaurateurs for quality control. I love thee purely, as the winners turn from praise modestly -- or frame and post in their storefront windows. I love thee with the passion put to use by chefs who seek the good review. I love thee with a love I seem to lose after every episode of food poisoning. I love thee with the breath, smile, tears, of all my life that begins again with every delicious morsel.
But, since we consider ourselves an honest newspaper, we'll be honest here: There is a dark side to this Best of Miami issue tucked within these pages. First of all because of its monstrous size, it entails a monstrous amount of effort -- this food critic researches the issue pretty extensively for about six months out of every year (and what to do about the extra ten pounds I gain in the process?). But hint: I'm not the only one who does, so I am not the only one to blame, er, thank for the heaps of food awards. And as monstrous as the issue is, there's no way everything, and everyone, can fit in.
So I'm using this column to provide for you some of the awards that didn't make the grade: Ladies and gentlemen, the first-ever annual Kvetchies. Here are the snide remarks, backhanded compliments, cheap shots, and, hell, just plain insults that didn't make the let's-play-nice cut for the Best of Miami this year. Take the following awards with a grain of salt or a peck of saltpeter, however you wish. It's simply time to tell you how I really feel:
Best Figment Of Our Collective Imagination
The Shore Club
Hey, folks, are we dreaming this renovated luxury hotel on Czsince 1997? The place must have expected to open at some point in 2000, because events for the 2000-2001 season were scheduled -- and even held -- there, despite the lack of facilities (can you say Porta Potti?). And international journalists who were supposed to stay there are still coming to town, only word has it that unknown to them (before their arrival, at any rate) they're being put up in the Nash instead. Um, hello? Was it all just a clever Jungian trick?
Best Restaurant Not To Open
Nobu in the Shore Club
Best Publicity Spoon To Gag On
The Shore Club
Yup, it's scored a hat trick this year at the Kvetchies. The Shore Club recently was included in an article in the New York Times about ultrahot pool scenes. People, the place hasn't even opened yet!
Best Purveyor Of Rats, Roaches, And Other Assorted Vermin
The Betsy Ross Hotel
Here's a lesson for the slob in all of us: When your restaurants go out of business, try to remember to clean out the fridge. That way, when the food police arrive, it won't look as though you're purposely trying to breed rodents to use as a menu replacement for, say, beef.
Best Restaurant To Never Say Die
Yup, this here-yesterday, gone-today restaurant made the national food media yet again. This time around Food & Wine mentioned it in an article about boutique hotels in the May 2001 issue, citing it as the eatery where "Charlie Trotter's former chef de cuisine Guillermo Tellez [is] at the helm." Not only is there no helm to be found, Tellez is no longer even in town. I swear Mayya has more half-life than a Twinkie.
Best Restaurant To Earn Itself A Moratorium By Dissing A Food Critic
El Grande Love Apple
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When the proprietors of this eatery published an ad in my own paper calling me a snob, I swore I'd never mention the restaurant's name again. So forgive the encoding. But I couldn't allow the Kvetchies to go by without awarding this place the grand prize. Or should I say El Grande blue ribbon?
Best Oops! We're About To Try It Again
The Touch people, planning to open an avant-garde strip joint/steak house on Lincoln Road in the old-but-never-to-be-forgotten Mayya space, may have been shot down by the city council in regards to the nudity quotient of the staff. But they're not giving up. They are planning on another restaurant, debuting next season, to be called Kiss, and the theme is now rumored to be something like a spicy Cirque du Soleil, with scantily dressed trapeze artists or some such nonsense. Apparently half-clad is better than all-clad, and we're not talking about cookware here.