Side Dish

You'd think we'd been in Utah or something: Miami Shores is kicking up its heels over the first restaurant to win a beer-and-wine license since, well, ever. The Village Café has finally convinced the Village Council that Miami Shores is not Salt Lake City, so why be dry? So much disposable income deserves some thrice-inflated wine listings.... Owner John Challenor also won a long-standing battle over whether his Shores restaurant could cook on the premises; an old city ordinance states he couldn't since he wasn't hooked up to the sewer system (Village Café has a septic tank). Fortunately Challenor has laid waste to that little rule and received a variance allowing him to offer some more serious dining options aside from soups and sandwiches. What else can I say but cheers?

•You'd think we're in France or something, but what the hell, let's all pretend and celebrate Bastille Day anyway. On Saturday, July 14, Brasserie Les Halles in Coral Gables will be sponsoring the fourth Annual Bastille Day Street Races & Celebration. At 3:00 p.m. a Chef's Race will have participating toques running through the streets carrying service trays of food. At 3:30 a Customer's Race will follow suit with trays of slippery pommes frites. Then it's the Waitstaff's Race at 4:00, during which servers will speed-walk the four-block course carrying a half-bottle of champagne and glasses; the first one to cross the finish line with everything still upright, pop the cork, and pour the bubbly wins the grand prize -- a trip for two to France. Makes me (almost) wish I were a waitress again.... Proceeds from the registration fees will be donated to the Food for Life Network, one of my favorite nonprofit organizations, whose mission it is to feed those living with AIDS.

•Can't wait that long to hear some champagne sparkling in the sunshine? Head over to Touch on Lincoln Road July 8 from noon till 6:00 p.m. to watch restaurateurs and chefs compete in the pétanque tournament for magnums of champagne and the grand prize, a trip to Chicago. Pétanque, like the Italian game bocce, is similar to bowling and, I agree, is hardly a reason to be a spectator during the heat of the day. So here's a better one: Proceeds will benefit the South Florida Arts Center, and since Veuve Clicquot will be sponsoring the event, plenty of heady opportunities that have nothing to do with sunstroke will be available.

•The proprietors of Tantra are taking a recent robbery with their usual aplomb. Relieved of a purported $80,000 in cash on Memorial Day -- the bandits took the entire safe, stocked with the proceeds from the bank-holiday weekend -- owner Tim Hogle and wife Irena are said to be designing T-shirts for the staff to wear. Hogle arranged a similar getup when Tantra experienced an electrical fire, working on the assumption that nothing unites a crew against adversity more than a crewneck. Should Hogle be looking for slogans, New Times is glad to contribute some possibilities: "Safe Today, Gone Tomorrow," "80,000 Ways to Leave Your Money," or that timeless classic, "We've Been Robbed and All We Got Were These Lousy T-Shirts."

•I didn't think it was possible that Ben Affleck could look more miserable than he did last week during the Planet Hollywood opening on Ocean Drive, but as it turns out, I was wrong (take note, because that doesn't happen very often). Later that evening he showed up sans entourage at The Tides hotel, where I was drinking with friends, and where he was promptly attacked by a he/she I had caught in the act of adjusting herself in the ladies' room just moments before. "I heard Ben Affleck is coming here tonight," she'd gushed, primping in the mirror, clearly intending to put her best boob forward. To his credit a notably bloated Affleck fended off her advances with tired grace, never wavering from a polite but firm not-interested stance, which also seemed to be the way he felt about Planet Hollywood in general....

•Kvetch: Oh, ye hotels and restaurants of little faith -- or is it constancy? After pandering for months to celebrity visitors and VITs (Very Important Tourists), both the Delano and Bambú are casting fresh eyes at the locals. Now instead of being stopped at the checkpoint to the Delano pool, we can attend the Beach Bar Party at the Delano Beach Bar and Water Salon, no room key required -- but only on Saturdays from 4:00 till 8:00 p.m. And instead of being caught up in the velvet ropes at Bambú, we can make reservations to sit in the "exclusive upstairs lounge" -- but only on Thursdays through Sundays from 9:00 p.m. till 2:00 a.m. Which leaves us ample time on Monday through Wednesday to be snubbed by the rest of the Beach operations. But hey, we wouldn't want to get too secure now, would we?


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