Miami Spice

Miami Spice 2016: The Misses

Sometimes Miami Spice is like being thrust into a glittering pinball machine that flashes and jitters. Bright, attractive signs grab your attention, but are they worth it? With so many restaurants participating in the two-month promotion that begins August 1 and offers prix-fixe lunch for $23 and dinner for $39, there are bound to be a few eateries that slap together lackluster offerings.

You can often tell because the menu sounds so unlike the place itself. It’s the steakhouse that serves chicken paillard and salmon francese. It’s the sushi spot that specializes in nigiri but then breaks out the chicken kara’age and no slice of fish beyond salmon. As good as Miami Spice can be, poor planning and little effort can also bring it all crashing down. Here are the ones to avoid.

Wolfgang’s Steakhouse
Despite priding itself on its connection to Brooklyn beef institution Peter Luger’s, there’s not an ounce of the stuff on this downtown spot’s lunch menu. At dinner, the bacon chop (only $4.95 on the menu) isn’t available. The offering is a mere petit filet that although retails for $36 isn’t served with any of the beloved place’s sides. Just get your tiramisu and key lime pie and head for the door.
Though this Asian barbecue spot in Wynwood seems to be enjoying its moment in the sun, the Zuma alums running the place don’t seem to see Spice as an opportunity to bump up the hype. For starters, they’re offering only lunch. Start with cauliflower, a duck-and-sausage-filled steamed bun, or a napa cabbage salad. For your main, it’s either an Asian-style beef brisket burger or pork-belly BLT. You’ll probably get your money’s worth; just don’t look at the dinner menu. It’s better you don’t know about the truly great stuff coming out of this kitchen.

The Forge
You’d think we’d be happy that a restaurant that applies an upcharge to spice its steaks is participating in Miami Spice, but then you get a glimpse at the menu: the salmon, the rigatoni bolognese, the petit filet. The last is likely the only way it’ll be worth visiting this iconic Miami Beach spot. The meal could start with a wedge salad, French onion soup, or tuna tartare and finish with chocolate lava cake or orange meringue tart. Notably, the menu is offered Friday and Saturday nights.
Stripsteak by Michael Mina
Despite its glowing reviews and nod as being among the city’s best steakhouses, Stripsteak’s Spice offering falls into a predictable trap. Again there’s a petit filet, this time a paltry six ounces, alongside choices of chicken and mahi-mahi. The appetizers, including a spicy hamachi tartare with green papaya and ricotta cavatelli, are far more interesting. Things slip again at dessert, which falls to a predictable chocolate cake and key lime pie.
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Zachary Fagenson became the New Times Broward-Palm Beach restaurant critic in 2012 before taking up the post for Miami in 2014. He also works as a correspondent for Reuters.
Contact: Zachary Fagenson