Miami Spice: Deal or No Deal? All Points North

In parts one, two (Asian), three (steakhouses), four (hotels), five (Coral Gables), and six (Coconut Grove), we perused Miami Spice deals from various participating restaurants and put in our two cents as to whether or not the deal was worth taking advantage of.

Today we take a look at those restaurants in North Miami, MiMo, and North Miami Beach that have released their Spice menus. If you want to see the actual menus (or at least those that have been made public thus far), go here.

Our perspective starts with the estimate that a Miami Spice dinner, after tax, tip, and nonalcoholic beverage costs about $50. And that most working class folks consider $50, or $100 per couple, to be a considerable sum of money to spend on dinner. They have a right to expect more than a no-frills meal.

So the judgment is based upon this: Should a $50 dinner, in this specific restaurant, be considered a bargain? We consider 94th Aero Squadron, Chef Allen's, Michy's, Ocean Prime, and Tuna's Raw Bar & Grille.

Did Allen or Michelle go cheap on us? One of 'em did. Read on to find out which.


94th Aero Squadron

Four starters to choose from, including escargots in mushrooms and

signature beer cheese soup (since 1974!). Main courses are generous,

encompassing lamb chops bordelaise, churrasco, mahi mahi topped with

shrimp, a seafood "collage" os shrimp, salmon, scallops, mussels and

clams with fettuccine. Desserts are predictable Key lime pie, flan, or

chocolate Grand Marnier -- not sure what that last one means, but

still, the 94th can be proud of these offerings. Available every night.

Chef Allen's

The Spice menu here is creative and offers generous sides with the

entrees. To start: Blue crab cake with local mango chutney; salad with

Maytag blue cheese; or oxtail Bolognese over orecchiette pasta. Mains

are blackened mahi-mahi with clam-rock shrimp gumbo and farro risotto;

tamarind glazed pork tenderloin with red bliss potatoes and creamed

corn; or grilled hanger steak with house made pineapple worcestershire

and hand cut fries. Dessert is toss between lavender-Riesling créme

bruleé with citrus butter cookie or chocolate-peanut butter napoleon

with roasted peanut brittle. Offer good every night.

Tuna's Raw Bar & Grille

Gotta love the spirit here. Seven starters to choose from, including

Blue Point oysters Rockefeller; escargot bourguigon in mushroom caps;

and mussels marinara. Next comes an intermezzo of lemon sorbet with a

splash of champagne. Classy. Entrees include a 1 1/2 pound Maine

lobster, a prime New York steak, shrimp Française, mahi mahi over

linguine, lamb chops Provençale, and veal medallions forestiere. Swiss

chocolate mousse cake, peach melba, or apple strudel a la mode are the

dessert options.

Oh yeah, that's what I'm talkin' about.



Yeah, yeah, yeah -- you can end up with a satisfying meal plucked from

this Spice menu. But the selections are surprisingly tightwad-ish.

First course offerings are chilled corn-and-crab soup; watermelon and

feta salad; asparagus with poached egg and jamon Serrano; and Michy's

famous blue cheese-and-jamon Serrano croquetas. If you're not a fan of

the Spanish ham, guess it's soup or salad. Still, starters aren't bad,

nor are desserts, the foursome encompassing plum cake with pecan créme

fraiche; chocolate bread pudding; lemongrass coconut creme brulee;

vegan vanilla cupcake with almond milk strawberry shake. But entree is

either pasta with almond pesto; veal scaloppine with fig-caper sauce,

poached salmon, or chicken thighs with figs. Don't care for figs? Then

it's pasta or salmon, buddy. Buddy more to the point: A chicken thigh

dinner for $50? I say no, no, no. Not available Mondays (closed) or Saturdays (stingy).

Ocean Prime

It's a salad or lobster bisque for starters, sorbet or chocolate cake

with vanilla ice cream for dessert. Still awake? The trio of entrees:

hanger steak churrasco, crab-crusted tilapia, or ciopinno with clams

and mussels (for fifty bucks they can't throw a shrimp into the stew?).

Available every night, and why not? This selection probably yields as

good a profit margin as the regular menu items do.

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