What's the difference between brunch and lunch? By definition, "brunch" is a breakfast/lunch combo. To us, the difference is that lunch is usually something we grab on the run to eat at our desk. Lunch "fuels" us.
Brunch, however, is a more relaxed affair. On the weekends, we gather with friends and loved ones after a run or a yoga class, to enjoy a longer, unrushed mid-day meal. Plus, there's usually a mimosa or two involved. To us, it's the reward for another work week successfully maneuvered.
Which brings us to Miami Spice. Although there is no "official brunch" category, there are several fine restaurants offering a $23 three (or more) course daytime feast on Saturdays and Sundays. They can call it "lunch". We'll happily give poetic license to that and call it what it really is -- ten places serving up a great weekend brunch -- Miami Spice-style.
Sit in the shaded courtyard of this lovely Coconut Grove restaurant and enjoy the birds in the trees and a brunch that features gazpacho, crab cakes, or prosciutto and fresh pear for starters. Spice entrees include porcini mushroom ravioli, grilled mahi, and sliced beef tenderloin. There are a few dessert choices, but we'll opt for the refreshing fresh fruit sorbets as a cool palate cleanser.
One of the most beautiful restaurants on Miami Beach, Juvia offers your choice of bento boxes for Spice. Choose from Korean (short ribs); tuna; chicken; or vegetarian. Each comes with a starter salad, jasmine rice, and daily sweet, fueling you up for an afternoon of Lincoln Road shopping.
If you thought you could barely afford Milos, this is your chance to indulge your inner power-bruncher. Appetizers include a Greek meze plate; a house-smoked salmon platter; or a tomato salad. Entrees include dorado royale; honjake salmon; shrimp saganaki; or bigeye tuna. Desserts keep it light with fresh fruit or Greek yogurt drizzled with thyme honey.
7. Il Mulino
This New York transplant offers a fine Italian meal in a chic Gotham-meets-SoBe setting. First courses include ricotta meatballs or mussels posillipo. Move on to gnocchi Sorrento; orechiette with brocolli rabe and sausage; veal scaloppine al marsala, among others before musing over whether to enjoy the tiramisu, Italian cheesecake, or panna cotta.
For brunch, take your pals to Milan for the day. Sort of. Toscana Divino is about as close as you can get without an overnighter on Alitalia. We suggest the pappa al pomodora, a bread soup with poached egg to start before opting for the risotto di zucchini e gamberi or seared tonno with watermelon panzanella. Finish with ricotta di bufala with monofiori honey and hazelnut sable, but don't rush. Here in Milan (via Brickell), brunches can last all day.
Have you tried the Pubbelly Boys' foray in French fare? This is the perfect opportunity to get a taste of their new brasserie, located in the Hilton Cabana Miami Beach hotel. The only problem? Deciding whether to start with the pate de campagne, soupe d'oignon, or tarte de jambon before tucking into the croque monsieur, pan roasted Scottish salmon; or Florida sweet corn risotto (There's also a Cabana burger for the finicky). Croissant au chocolat bread pudding for dessert? Ohh la la!
At The Federal, more is more. For starters, you get a baker's basket and the restaurant's trio of dips. Then, you get two entrees from a host of offerings like wing 'n waffle' biskit 'n sausage gravy, and chunky monkey waffles. Leave room for dessert, because you get that too. Were you counting? That's basically five courses for the price of three. Generous brunch best shared with hungry friends.
Bring at least one friend to Hakkasan for their ultimate dim sum Miami Spice brunch. The feast includes a dim sum platter; barbecue smoked soy chicken; sauteed baby pak choi; grilled honey pork with Hong Kong noodle soup; and dessert -- all for the sharing. Just keep your cool when your bestie tries to snag the last dumpling.
Kris Wessel's Oolite has many fine options, but it's the fact that his now-famous "in rightful hands Wessel's BBQ shrimp" is one of the entrees that makes Oolite a must-try for Miami Spice. Start with his coconut-conch, salsify and corn chowder and finish with his mango pie with almond crust, a 75-year-old recipe that's a classic in itself.
Calling all hedonists...Tongue & Cheek is the only restaurant to flat-out call their weekend Miami Spice deal a "brunch" and so chef/owner Jamie DeRosa has peppered his offerings with food we crave like Key West pink shrimp n' grits; a Cobb salad; or a roasted beet salad. That's just for starters.
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Move on to a Cuban sandwich, steamed mussels, fish tacos, or a beef cheek burger with cheddar pimemto cheese. Here comes the really big dilemma -- do you eat your dessert...or drink it? You can opt for a seasonal fruit salad, Florida grapefruit and local honey, or a blonde chocolate and coffee custard as a sweet finish...or sub out the sweet for a glass of wine, beer, or a cocktail. We know what we're doing...