There's one common theme this year among restaurants with disappointing Miami Spice menus. Untapped potential. You know the kind of thing we're talking about. Things have come full circle, and now we're the parents with the red temples and furrowed brows insisting "I'm not mad, I'm disappointed."
Some of these sins are committed by Miami's most promising chefs and restaurants, the ones people long to visit and recall during the days and weeks that follow. The good news is Spice lasts two months. That gives everyone time to right their wrongs and most importantly do better for a loyal legion of Spice enthusiasts. In the meantime, here are the menus that disappointed us as the month of eating kicks off tomorrow.
Zuma Contemporary Japanese Cuisine
One thing is clearly missing from the Miami Spice menu (offered for lunch Monday through Friday and dinner Monday and Tuesday) here. The chirashi, long a staple of what made this sky-high priced downtown izakaya a can’t miss during August and September is (for the moment) no more. In its place come skirt steak, swordfish, baby chicken and vegetable donburi. It might still be a steal given the menu's lofty prices, but it's a shame to see what was one of Miami Spice’s gems fall victim to another forgettable menu.
Stripsteak by Michael Mina
Michael Mina has Michelin stars. A fleet of beloved restaurants, and even though his latest Miami project is to be a tribute to steak, you won’t find any of it on his Miami Spice menu (offered for dinner Sunday through Thursday). Sure, there are braised short ribs with
We’ve come to expect far better from Dena Marino and in some instances her Spice menu (served at lunch Monday through Friday and dinner Sunday through Thursday) seems like it was written by a silver-tongued pizza cook. The crispy buffalo mozzarella (so fried mozzarella?) is served with a pesto aioli. The entrée choices of an airline chicken breast (yawn) and the moderately sounding branzino seem to pale in comparison to the pristine, light Italian fare she serves on her everyday menu.
Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill
This longstanding Midtown restaurant is really short selling itself this year. The wildly varied menu, overseen by chef Timon Balloo, includes and array of reliable spanning crudos, the raw bar, assorted tapas, sushi, sashimi, as well as proteins and vegetables charred over the robata grill. Rather than let you run free throughout the menu like a handful of other small plates Sugarcane ropes you in with a handful of forgettable-sounding options ranging from fried chicken to pork sandwiches and Key lime mousse. Take a clue from The Bazaar or the Pubbelly restaurants, and stop hindering people from seeing why Sugarcane has been for so long a Midtown mainstay.
Cipriani Downtown Miami
Almost everyone in Miami has a friend like this high-priced, New York-based Italian spot. It’s loud, boisterous, over-priced, and not that enjoyable to begin with. Yet the Brickell outpost of this worldwide chain takes offensive to a new level during Miami Spice (offered for lunch and dinner Monday through Thursday). The lone entrée options are gnocchi in a boring-sounding pomodoro sauce or Patagonian toothfish with rice pilaf, which they insist on calling Chilean sea bass. If this place doesn't deserve a fangul I don’t know what does.
Since it opened in 2012 atop the Herzog & de Meuron-designed parking garage at 1111 Lincoln Road Juvia has been a must-stop for locals and visitors alike. The views have always been spectacular, but the food has left us wanting since its first reviews. Still the place maintains its lure during Miami Spice (offered for lunch Monday through Friday) and draws inattentive customers who fail to notice the tiny portions of paltry options as they stare dumb-faced at their surroundings. Iceberg salad? Lomo saltado? Tres leches? Buy yourself a postcard and take your remaining $22 elsewhere.
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Cleo South Beach
Though Cleo is one of the better Mediterranean-fashioned restaurants Miami has welcomed in the past year and a half, the Miami Spice menu (offered Sunday through Thursday) has some serious shortcomings.
Imagine for instance your $39 dinner consisted of the silky smokey eggplant dip babaganoush followed by chicken tagine and baklava. The total for those three off the regular menu comes to $32. Even if you opt for the grilled dourade with vadouvan, cauliflower couscous, agrodolce currants and lebaneh you might still come up short. Miami Spice is a time for restaurants to gin up business with good deals during what are traditionally Miami’s slow months, but apparently not here.Update Aug. 3: A restaurant representative has informed New Times that the menu posted on the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau was incorrect. An updated menu shows offering will include a choice of mezzes, followed by borek, Brussels sprout hearts, Greek salad, a choice of meatball or chicken tagine, or grilled dourade, and a choice of baklava or sticky toffee for dessert.
Fresh American Bistro
Something doesn’t make sense here. You know this restaurant inside Sunny Isles Beach’s Solé On The Ocean is helmed by the Michelin starred Philippe Ruiz who once presided over the Biltmore Hotel’s Palme D’Or. Then you read this place’s Miami Spice menus (offered for lunch and dinner daily) and wonder who’s really running the show here. Corn succotash with slipper lobster, which is the red-headed, middle child of the crustacean family. Then there’s the “roasted beef petite tender.” Tender what? Tenderloin? Petite filet? This shouldn’t be this difficult and clearly something is getting in the way of Ruiz's precise French fare.