Miami Spice: Deal or No Deal? Coral Gables

In parts one, two (Asian), three (steakhouses) and four (hotels) of our series, 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 restaurants in Coral Gables 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 to ilovemiamispice.com/participants.

Our perspective starts with the estimate that a Miami Spice dinner, after tax, tip, and nonalcoholic beverage (water? coffee?), 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 ask the question of Charlotte Bistro, Christy's Restaurant, La Palma Ristorante, Pascal's On Ponce, Randazzo's Little Italy, and Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. Half of these get the thumbs up, which which? Read on...


Charlotte Bistro

Chock full of attractive selections, starting with starters such as

veal churrasco wrapped in phyllo; crab risotto and truffle oil

emulsion; sea bass ceviche with tuna and salmon tartar; and fennel,

apple, and crispy brie salad. Entrees are rack of lamb, double pork

chop, salmon filet, or sea bass-calamari sofrito with mussels. Choice

of four desserts includes signature chocolate soup with home made

coffee ice cream.

Christy's Restaurant

Starter choices are spinach or caesar salad or soup of the day (boring,

but the caesar here is a signature). Dessert is fudge brownie a la mode

or Key lime pie (yawn). But entrees boast value: filet mignon with

potato au gratin and sauteed spinach; herb-crusted rack of lamb with

baked potato, asparagus, and wild mushroom ragout; and pan seared

snapper with parmesan risotto cake, wilted spinach, and tomato fondue.

Christy's is a pricey place; this is a deal. Good every night but


La Palma Ristorante

Apps: Crab cakes; caesar salad; or prosciutto di Parma with parmesan

mousse and fruit. Mains: 14-ounce New York strip, veal scaloppini,

tortelloni, or salmon.  Dessert is any item your heart desires from the

pastry trolley. That sure seals the deal. Available every night.


Pascal's On Ponce

The three-course meal you create from this menu will almost certainly

be tasty, but the pickings are slim, the items not exactly seeping with

luxe ingredients. First course is either lobster bisque with corn flan

or haricot verts salad with goat cheese "tartine". Main course is

braised lamb shank with roasted garlic risotto or grouper with mussels.

Dessert -- berries au gratin with orange sabayon or bittersweet

fondant with vanilla ice cream. How do you say meh in French? Available

any night but Sunday.

Randazzo's Little Italy

Salad or calamari to start. Cannoli, tiramisu, or cheesecake to finish.

Spaghetti with Sunday gravy, chicken parmigiana, snapper Francaise, or

veal scaloppini cooked just about any way are the mains. Fifty bucks? I

don't think so. Offer is good every night. Not valid Mondays

(restaurant is closed).

Ruth's Chris Steakhouse

Salad or crab-corn chowder to start, flan with fruit to finish. Jeez,

how generous. Choice of either starch or vegetable with entrees such as

fish of the day; stuffed chicken; barbecued shrimp, or 6-ounce filet

with shrimp. Last main course ain't bad, but it's still stingy overall.

Too stingy.

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