Side Dish

I'd rather be a date than update: I can understand why some of you are e-mailing me saying I've ruined beef for you. I'm sympathetic to your plight, really. But I refuse to follow the mad cow and foot and mouth epidemics any longer, as I'd like to get on with my own beef-eating (or is it Beefeater?) life. If you're ever going to eat meat again, you're going to have to synthesize some of the stories for yourself. If you want help, check out, which currently is running "special coverage" on the subject, culling the best of the lot (and I don't mean feedlot) from the dailies around the world.

•On the other hand, allow me to issue one more warning: The Journal of the American Medical Association recently noted that tuna burgers, which have been replacing beef burgers on many a restaurant menu, spoil far more quickly than tuna steaks or fillets; the grinding process apparently heats up the fish, providing good breeding ground for bacteria. Those bacteria then produce histamine, resulting in a food-borne illness called scombroid poisoning. You probably won't die from it, but you will sport a pretty unpleasant rash for a while, and that stomach-turning thing could turn you off tuna forever.

•Now on to the New Yorker who missed the irony in my comparison of Miami eateries to New York restaurants. He points out that "no article has ever appeared in any New York paper defending New York restaurants against those of Miami. We just assume we're the best." Yes, that's patently obvious. And, he wants to know, don't most people "go to a specific restaurant because of the specific food served there?" Pfff, no. Down here we go to restaurants for the attitude served there. Then there's the Miamian who took me to task for implying that there are no voice-mail hostesses in Miami. How dare I, when she's confronted with making mechanical reservations all the time. Call Moroccan Nights, she suggested. Well, I did. I got a person -- because I phoned during business hours. The point being that voice mail is perfectly acceptable for a restaurant to use when it's closed.

•Speaking of messaging services, don't be alarmed by the voice mail at Divina, declaring that the restaurant is now only open on Friday and Saturday nights. Proprietor Alejandro Garcia says he and chef-wife Lorena Vega-Beuggie have scaled down hours not as a precursor to closing but as a way to simultaneously serve themselves and their core clientele better -- plenty of down time for all.

•When it comes to South Beach this year, clearly the word is fishy. Joining "Fico" Key West, Blu Marine, a two-month-old seafoodery from Montreal, has opened in the former Rose's Tattoo Lounge music venue, plugging a menu of fresh skate, striped bass, gray porgies, baby shark, sardines, and anchovies. Shoji Sushi , the new Japanese offering from restaurant duo Michael Schwartz and Myles Chefetz, is advertising sushi made from eight-pound golden king crabs, which they are flying in live from southeastern Alaska. Perhaps the impact of the unusual (for down here) sea goodies will make up for the fast-waning stone crab season.

•It's long been a loyal world out there, believe it or not. But the season has come -- for change that is. Operations manager George Slover, late of the Blue Door at the Delano, China Grill Management, and Schrager Chodorow Joint Ventures, where he spent six years, has left the group to sign on with the Touch-y-feely people. Slover will be director of ops for the new restaurant that Touch owners Bobby Rifkin and David Tornak will be unveiling on Lincoln Road come September. "I guess you could say George Slover has opened a new door, and it's not gonna be blue!" he tells me. Fine with us -- we just wanna know if that new door is gonna open on some risqué entertainment or what, and if his perks will include lap dances. In other ex-China Grill news, former corporate chef Ephraim Kadish, who ran the kitchens at CGM for nine years, is gearing to debut Breez in the Billboard Live building, which is installing the venue's "progressive" multimedia equipment. Kadish, chef and part-owner, won't reveal how much the multistory eatery and live-music venue is going to cost, but he says, "It's a lot of money. No, it's a ton of money." Early predictions, based on the iridescent décor and the grand plans to pair pop and rock music with sumptuous seafood, put Breez as either fabulous -- or a fabulous flop.


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