Miami Spice Alert: Ask About the Menu When Making Reservations!

Short Order received an email from a reader concerning a disappointing Spice dinner experience at Scarpetta. Seems as though he went expecting yellowtail and bone-in sirloin and instead the menu offered mackerel and tenderloin. He wasn't crazy about the portions either. The suspicion seemed to be that Scarpetta might have lured diners using a dazzling opening menu and then downgraded it after the first week. Not so, insists Mabel De Beunza, director of public relations at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach. She stresses they've gone the extra mile to ensure the Spice menus are not passable, but exceptional. She likewise disputes the small portions.

Both letters follow the jump, but the lesson to be learned here: Ask for Spice menu specifics when calling for reservations at any participating restaurant. And if the person on the line seems impatient to spell it out, well, tough luck for them -- insist upon it.

Letter of Complaint:

"My girlfriend and I had the opportunity to go to Scarpetta on Friday

13, 2010. It is interesting how a few substitutions of the spice menu

changes it from a deal to a steal! Instead of the raw yellowtail with

baby greens appetizer, they had mackerel. Instead of the anticipated

bone-in Prime aged sirloin, they had three small slices of tenderloin.

In my opinion this made the menu much less appealing and if I were

aware of the changes, I would have chosen a different restaurant. In

less than 13 days Scarpetta chose to tone down their menu with less

pricy offerings and smaller portions. It is funny that the waiter

explained that the portions are the same as normally served. I cannot

believe that the tenderloin portion was their typical offering...If it

were not for the delicious selection of bread served before the meal, I

might have left hungry!"

Scarpetta's Response:

"When we discussed our action plan for this year's Miami Spice

offerings, our top line objectives were to ensure we offer the 'best

of' from the existing menu, great value for your money and to capture

return guests. We placed signature dishes on the Miami Spice menu, did

not dilute portion sizes and made the conscious decision to change the

menu weekly so that we would have the opportunity to capture return

guests wanting to try other amazing dishes. Scarpetta for instance

changed their first week menu from the Yellowtail to the Mackerel which

offered the same size/portion and changed the Bone-In to the Prime

Filet of Beef, which is 8 oz. Many restaurants in Miami don't even

offer this cut of meat, and Scarpetta offers more choices than

conventional participants by providing four (4) choices for appetizers

and entrees not just three (3).

To state that we place an appealing menu for the purposes of misleading

is simply not true and discounts all the other amazing efforts that the

restaurant is making to ensure a spectacular dining experience for all

that come during this citywide promotion. These are just two items out

of 11 from a selection of exceptional dishes on Scarpetta's menu which

change weekly. Lastly, Scarpetta offers the Miami Spice option to all

guests by including it as their cover page to the main menu, not a

separate menu that guests have to request.

We understand the frustration in your guests' email when they came to

the restaurant and found two dishes different from the one in your

article. We highly recommend that guests first visit our website

-- all menus including Miami Spice are updated there

first since we have immediate access to this site; or simply by calling

the restaurant in advance and confirming the menu. Our hostesses are

happy to assist with these kinds of questions."

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