It could be that I've been working so hard on the "Best of Miami" issue that my juices have been whetted. It could be that the time change has me waking up far too early in the morning for anything but mostly evil thoughts. Or maybe I've just been holding back. Whatever the reason, I'm once again ready to hand out the annual "Kvetchies," the Bammys of the restaurant world, to commemorate the year's restaurants, chefs, and trends that have pissed me off the most. Congrats, all -- you've worked hard for these awards:
BEST INFLATED WINE-BY-THE-GLASS PROGRAM
It's really just a matter of numbers: This fish restaurant in Coral Gables, stuck deep into the Merrick Park disaster, has the gall to charge $15 for a glass of Nicolás Catena Chardonnay 2001. Admittedly the Argentine wine was given 90 points by the Wine Spectator, who described it as having "lovely purity and balance, with ripe flavors of fig and pear backed up by floral and toast notes that are harmonious through the finish." But this tasting note, as positive as it is, was published in a column called "The Top 100 Smart Buys." This Chardonnay ain't exactly Far Niente. In fact you can buy a bottle of the stuff for $15.99. And that's retail. Not convinced yet this place is a rip-off? They're also selling a glass of Louis Jadot Fixin 1999 for $16. Meanwhile, a bottle of this Burgundy, another acknowledged value-for-money vintage, is on sale via the Web (that's how much in demand it is) for as low as $11.11. Talk about indigestion. Kind of makes you wonder what kind of cheap food they're buying and trying to pass off as quality.
BEST RESTAURANT TO UNDERSELL ITSELF
I actually like this Coconut Grove juice bar-cum-restaurant, which recently underwent a renovation and added a full menu and wine list. But service issues haven't exactly been hammered out yet. So here's a little advice for future waiters -- never say the following: "I'd like to tell you about our specials of the day, but I don't know what they are."
BEST RESTAURANT TO TURN OFF FOODIES BY NAME ALONE
You couldn't ask for a more apt description: all-you-can-eat, prefab fare, production-line style as if your appetite is the skeleton of a car to be completed piece by piece. On the other hand, it only costs $7.99.
BEST RESTAURANT NEVER TO OPEN
I'm beginning to think this offshoot of the popular SoHo 24-7 restaurant -- said to be opening in the renovated, historic Cadillac dealership on Lincoln Road for how many years now? -- is a figment of our collective culinary imagination. You can't exactly rock around the clock when there is neither rock nor clock in sight.
BEST RESTAURANT TO MAKE TRAVELERS WANT TO LEAVE MIA EVEN FASTER
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In my experience, breakfast here makes even strip searches by security guards at luggage checkpoints appealing.
BEST OVERREPRESENTED RESTAURANT
Next year, I'd like to give these Argentine steak houses the Best Trend to Die award. There's only so much chimichurri a critic can take.