Dishcrawl 2014 kicked off last night with a culinary tour through the historic and peacock-infested streets of Coconut Grove, and Short Order was invited to join the action.
Dishcrawl regularly features anywhere from three to five restaurants. Last night we sampled three dishes at three restaurants, two of which are kept secret till the night of the Crawl and the first released just 48 hours before. Last week, we gave you the scoop that we'd be hitting up Peacock Garden Café first.
Peacock Garden Café is popular with Grovites. Many of the Dishcrawlers had dined at Peacock before, but the restaurant was able to woo some new faces with their new menu. Launching in the next couple of weeks, we were the first to get a bite of the new additions.
A tomato gazpacho with vegetables and basil was a nice little slurp and refreshing beginning for the hot summer night. It was balanced perfectly, with just a shudder of acidity seeping through and smooth in texture. It was everything you'd want in a gazpacho.
Tuna sashimi with avocado salad kept the refreshing summer theme going. We had some crawlers who were allergic to avocado. Dishcrawl fully caters to any dietary restrictions you have, just be sure to let them know in advance so they can cook you up a replacement with time so you eat with the rest of the group.
The last new addition to the menu we sampled was pear and prosciutto with basil, shredded Parmesan, and raspberry vinaigrette. Our favorite dish of the entire night and all three restaurants, it was an inventive and unexpected combination that made so much sense once we took a bite. Try it at home, although chances are it won't taste the same. Shame on the lady next to me for leaving behind her pears.
We then walked aimlessly to our next destination led by Miami Dishcrawl Ambassador Alex Guerra, who teased us with where we were going.
Taurus was second choice for the night, going from a Café to a sports-type bar and giving crawlers a gamut of dishes to taste.
What's a sports bar top selling item besides beer? You guessed it, wings. We had two kinds -- napalm and sweet barbecue. Napalm is a ghost pepper and one of the world's hottest, and while these wings were edible and delectable, they left your mouth feeling like one of a dragon. Try them for yourself.
Taurus recently just revamped their menu as well, which allowed us to taste their toston burger accompanied by avocado fries. Yes, avocado fries. No, they're not healthy.
A back door through Taurus and a flight down some stairs led us to our next location, La Bottega's underground cellar. La Bottega has wine memberships available where members are welcome to use the romantic and charming space for private dining or any events without an additional fee and get discounts on wine. La Bottega also hosts wine tastings and cooking classes.
Igor, chef and owner, is from Venice and cooks up mainly fish. He changes things up every night and will pretty much customize any dish or whip up anything you might be in the mood for on the spot. We didn't have a chance to taste his fish, but we did get to sample ravioli stuffed with pumpkin and ricotta with notes of sage. All the pasta is house-made from scratch.
A risotto with mushrooms and white and green asparagus was less flavorful, but it also sat out for some time (La Bottega was expecting us an hour earlier). In order to better judge Igor's freshly made risotto, we'll simply have to pay another visit to La Bottega and have him make it on call.
Tiramisu closed out the Dishcrawl and night.
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The whole point of Dishcrawl is to get people involved with restaurants they've perhaps never been to or heard of while meeting people who share the same interest in culinary exploration. All in all, it was a good time with good people and good food. Our one tip for the next one, which we hear might be in Wynwood, is to bring some Off. The mosquitos are killer. It's summer in Miami, after all.
Follow Carla on Twitter @ohcarlucha