Forget BAM -- Emeril's looks to be a veritable SLAM dunk. The buzz-driven gastrognoscenti are descending in droves, overwhelming the restaurant formerly known as the Gaucho Room. Indeed the polished dining room, dominated by wine refrigeration units that could make any half-knowledgeable enophile drool with envy, has completely evolved from the days of cowhide décor, putting the Loews Hotel in the culinary ranks of the Ritz-Carlton, whose South Beach location, now hiring for its November/December debut, will no doubt find itself with destination-dining competition. I haven't seen tables this coveted since Mezzanotte. And yes, head honcho Emeril Lagasse himself was doing the meet-and-greet, at least on the Saturday night that I dined on, among other delicacies, beautifully spiced andouille-crusted redfish and creamy lobster cheesecake. And no, I will never wash that hand again -- let alone brush my teeth.
The revolution is ongoing: Yet another name chef is opting for the 'burbs. Or, more correctly, the Village. Former Restaurant St. Michel executive chef Curtis Whitticar, an eight-year veteran of that renowned restaurant, is about to make my personal dream come true on my home turf. He's taken over the Village Café, an underutilized spot that a couple of years ago was the first new property in downtown Miami Shores to gain a beer-and-wine license since, well, ever. Whitticar and partner Elaine Minick Stone, both of whom are Johnson & Wales grads as well as long-running residents of Miami Shores, promise high-end eats with a tropical influence and white-linen dinner service plus flowers and candles, but minus the attitude. Finally, a local place to take my mangoes, not to mention my family.
Second verse, hardly same as the first -- Bagels and Company, a North Miami breakfast-lunchery, has expanded hours to supper service. The last time this place, fondly known as Guns 'n Bagels in the community (due to its proximity to a gun shop), offered dinner, about ten years ago, the menu was Italian. This time around its dinner items are more in keeping with the delicatessen theme -- hot open-face turkey or roast beef platters; brisket; homemade meat loaf; roast chicken. And just like in the successful delis of yore, all dinners, none of which top the $11 mark, include potato, vegetable, beverage, and dessert.
Previously unreported new restaurants never cease: Café Mosaique has taken over the groundbreaking Da Ermanno space on Biscayne Boulevard in the Upper East Side. Don Mamerto, a Cuban place manned by chef Jorge Luzarraga, has launched on Douglas Road. In the four-week-old Four Seasons Hotel Miami, Acqua's northern Italian chef Marco Bax is offering menu items such as potato-leek soup with black truffles and foie gras. Meanwhile others adjust: You can find debuting fall menus at Café Ibiza, Timo, Barton G, and Pearl, where Brian Molloy of Nikki Beach has just been named executive chef.
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And so this week's gastronomy goes.