Have you been late to indulge in Miami Spice meals? Have no fear, some of the September menus were worth waiting for.
While it isn't necessary to change up your spice menu from August to September, some restaurants choose to do so, and we are grateful. (There are even those who do it weekly -- winking at you, Tongue & Cheek and the Forge.)
While August may have been a bit of amateur hour (see the grudging), September menus just feel more serious. And with less than three weeks left, it is time to make your reservations for the five most exciting new menus. Bonus: All of these restaurants are at hotels, so you can continue to splurge and get a room if you are too stuffed (or intoxicated) to drive home.
See also: The Great of Miami Spice 2014, Part Two
5. The Dutch
We were already wowed by the Dutch spice menu in August. Watercolored memories of PBR steamed clams, lobster pot pie, and chess pie come to mind but September is just as enticing. There is a cherry gazpacho, barbecue pork ribs with grilled George peaches and s'mores pie. However if you want to really indulge, you have to go with the choices that are supplements. Those supplements always get you. The steamed mussels in a green Thai curry ($8 supplement) are tiny and delicate in a rich sauce full of depth. And the stuffed quail ($17 supplement) stuffed with roasted mushrooms, foie gras and truffles make this tiny game a winner over sweet corn succotash jeweled with bits of pork. If it makes you uncomfortable to pay more than the alluring $39 per person, just remember after drinks, parking, tax and tip, you are going to pay more regardless. Or you can get it as a regular main for $32.
Duck, duck... duck crepes really goose us. The idea of tender, wrapped duck with hoisin sauce, kimichi and pea shoot salad just excites us. It is a highlight from the new September Spice menu. For a main dish, it is the pan-seared scallops over jalapeño creamed corn with truffle. We don't know why scallops and corn pair so beautifully, but we love that Michael Mina adds some Miami heat to the dish. He also added our city's favorite dessert to the spice menu with a key lime pie featuring raspberry, graham cracker and chantilly cream.
The August menu for L'echon was pretty stellar -- with escargot (a personal favorite Spice dish) and the skate wing. But for September we have to say goodbye to those two selections and hello to grilled octopus with romesco verde, confit tomatoes, olives and almonds. If you want to go even more nutty, try the truite amandine, a pan-roasted Idaho trout with summer beans, brown butter and almonds. For sweets, you can do the chocolate croissant bread pudding. Oui! Oui!
At the beginning of Spice, the folks at DB may have wowed you with coq au vin and Thai mussels with sausage and coconut milk. However, September brings even more heavy hitters with that are herbaceous and bodacious. Take for example the tarragon chicken, vegetable tagine with harissa, grouper with a cilantro pesto or the ultimate steak au poivre with tomato provencal, braised greens and roasted shallots. If you have to work your way up to that, the duck rillette or linguini with shrimp, calamari and chilis can ease you in as a starter. For a closer, try the basil semifreddo with poached berries, white chocolate crémeux and crispy meringue. We did get a tip that they may change it up again on Monday, so try it this weekend or expect to be surprised next week.
1. J&G Grill
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J&G Grill always wins Miami Spice. We don't know if it is because of the opulence of the restaurant, or the combined talent of chef de cuisine Brad Kilgore and pastry chef extraordinaire Antonio Bachour, but it always feels like the treat of the season. The creativity seems limitless during the season. For starters, try the robata quail, the cocoa-cured escolar and ricotta and crab raviolo. From there, it only gets stronger with mussels and bass in a tomato broth, a nut-and-seed crusted snapper, and a cider-glazed short rib. You can also added foie, langiustine and blue crab for a supplement! For dessert, the salted honey yogurt comes with candied tomato and strawberry, the carrot cake with creamed cheese sorbet and candied carrots, the crema Catalana with compressed apple, apple cider foam and cinnamon ice cream. Even the key lime pie gets a sophisticated makeover with coconut cremeaux and coconut sorbet.
Seriously, don't let spice season pass you up without trying these September menus!
Follow Carina on Twitter @CarinaOst