Au Pied de Cochon: "Just what we needed", we crowed back in July -- a dazzling 1940s-style 24/7 indoor/outdoor South Beach bistro serving country French fare in a fun setting. And boy those mustard-coated, bread crumbed pig trotters were tasty, as were the lamb chops, and the pork shank too. Alas, the best laid plans of rice and hen...
Cacao: The corvina ceviche, wild boar anticucho, corn soufflé with dipping sauces...the roasted quail swollen with chicken and chorizo mousse! Venezuelan chef Edgar Leal's vibrant contemporary Latin American cooking made this restaurant a favorite of ours during its seven successful years. This is one Cacao we wish didn't melt away.
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North One 10: Biscayne construction took a heavy toll on this restaurants' early years, and chef/owners Dewey and Dale LoSasso never really recovered from those losses. Still, the couple gave us one of our first quality neighborhood restaurants -- great food and wine without the fuss. Dewey has moved on to become the latest chef at the refurbished Forge, and Dale is managing Solea at the W Hotel South Beach.
Table 8: We were a little disappointed by this outpost of Govind Armstrong's successful Beverly Hills venture (as apparently were New Yorkers, as that city's Table 8 just folded too). But it was nonetheless a pretty spot to enjoy clean, farm-fresh food cooked in light, uncomplicated, and flavorful fashion.
Tuscan Steak: The decor was sophisticated (originally designed for Savannah, Marvin Wood's low country cuisine restaurant). The namesake steak was fantastic. The truffled garlic bread will go down in local food lore as one of the first and ultimately best uses of truffle oil in South Florida. That's why we'll miss Tuscan Steak.
Runners up: La Gastronomia; Plein Sud.