Short Order knows that when it comes to dining out, few people are pickier than a professional chef. We talked to some of Miami's top chefs to learn about their favorite restaurants in town and the dishes they recommend at each.
Todd Erickson, executive chef at Haven South Beach, has been getting lots of love for his global small-plates menu of creatively imagined and presented sushi, salads, skewers, sliders, and snacks.
Erickson's Chesapeake Skewer, for instance, features a diver scallop, sweet corn, bacon lardon, and Peruvian potato, while his Duck Duck Quail Slider brings a juicy duck burger topped with a quail egg, foie gras butter, and parsley-shallot salad. It's a perfect combination of flavors, and even better with a side of Sweet Frites -- sweet potato fries dusted with spiced brown sugar and served with lemon-cayenne aioli.
With a menu like this, it's easy to see why Haven landed the top spot in Miami New Times' 2012 "Top Five Gastropubs" list and was included in Restaurant Management's "20 Hottest New Restaurants."
Erickson made his Miami debut in early 2011 as executive sous chef at Zuma. Later that same year he partnered with hospitality and design entrepreneur Mike Boles to open Haven South Beach. The two are now planning to launch a new, fast-casual Mexican spot, HuaHua's Taqueria, a few doors down from Haven.
So where does Erickson like to go when he dines out in Miami? Here, in no particular order, are his "Fave Five":
A stylish temple of modern Japanese cuisine on the ground floor of the Epic Hotel, Zuma is the best place in Miami to see and be seen, according to Erickson. His favorite dishes on chef Rainer Becker's menu: "roasted lobster with shiso-ponzu butter, beef tataki, and robata pork belly skewer."
Cecconi's Miami Beach
This charming spot at the Soho Beach House gets a nod from Todd for its "big Italian Sunday brunch." A must-try, he says, is chef Sergio Sigala's Parmesan risotto, prepared in a wheel of Parmesan cheese. "They also have a great selection of charcuterie, cheeses, and pastries."
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The Federal Food Drink & Provisions
Recently named Best Neighborhood Restaurant by New Times, the Federal, Erickson says, is the best place to be treated like family. "Try their Jar-o-Duck with candied sweet potatoes and charred marshmallow fluff," he says, although "anything chef Cesar [Zapata] is cooking will make you smile."
An unassuming sushi counter tucked away in the Japanese Market in North Bay Village is where you'll find some of Miami's best sushi, according to Erickson, expertly prepared by chef Michio Kushi. "Sushi Deli has the best lunch," he says. "Superfresh sushi and sashimi, great miso, and friendly service."
Chef Giorgio Rapicavoli's pop-up restaurant takes over Café Ponce Tuesday through Saturday evenings and Sundays for brunch. "It's the best place to play with your food," Erickson says. His suggestions: "chicken and waffles, tomato salad, and pasta carbonara." Our suggestion: Get there soon. Eating House disappears in August.