Miami Spice: Deal or No Deal? Final Menus

Today brings the last installment of our Deal/No Deal series; a few dozen restaurants still haven't linked menus to the Miami Spice website. In Parts 1, 2 (Asian), 3 (steak houses), 4 (hotels), 5 (Coral Gables), 6 (Coconut Grove), 7 (all points North), and 8 (South Beach), we perused

Miami Spice deals from various participating restaurants and put in our

two cents as to whether the deal was worth taking advantage of.


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. We should also add that many restaurants change Spice menus from week to week.

So the judgment is based upon this: Should a $50 dinner, in this specific restaurant, be considered a bargain?

If you want to see

the actual menus (or at least those that have been made public thus

far), go here.

Our final eight: Asia de Cuba, Fontana, Meat Market, Novecento 900, Palme d'Or, Sra. Martinez, Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill, and Tony Chan's Water Club. Which made the cut? Keep going... 


Asia de Cuba

This one was deemed a no-deal early on, but management has changed

course -- or shall we say changed courses -- and is now presenting an

incredibly wide array of top notch choices -- looks to be almost the

whole menu. Parties of 22 choose 2 apps, 1 entree, 2 sides, and 1

dessert; similar proportions follow suite with more diners. But

portions are normal -- meaning shareable -- size. And entrées now

include lamb, black cod, Serrano-ham-wrapped shrimp, and so forth. Not

available Fri. or Sat.

Mondrian South Beach, 1100 West Ave., Miami Beach; 305-514-1940

Meat Market

Alaskan crab tail with baby bok choy and passion fruit butter sauce is

one of four first course options. Others are ceviche, caesar salad, or

baby back lamb ribs in spicy hoisin BBQ sauce. Main course brings

Harris Ranch short ribs with polenta fries; a duo of New Zealand lamb

(grilled chops and braised in pastry); broiled Angus rib eye steak; and

striped bass with Asian style bok choy. Dessert is milk chocolate panna

cotta with pecan biscotti. That's menu with some meat to it.

915 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach; 305-532-0088. Offer good Sunday through Thursday.

Novecento 900 - Brickell
Soup, ceviche, or creamy corn empanadas are the starters. Grilled filet mignon, fish du jour (each with sides), or gnocchi with crispy prosciutto in cream sauce are the main course options. Hazelnut-chocolate mousse cake comprises one of three dessert picks. Others are vanilla panna cotta with berries and the deal clincher: dulce de leche soufflé with banana split ice cream. Good every night.
1414 Brickell Ave., Miami; 305-403-0900
Also in Coral Gables and South Beach

Palme d'Or

Not overwhelmingly generous, yet at the same time it's the Palme d'Or,

which means your Spice discount will bring exceptional ambiance,

service, and cuisine -- even is that cuisine translates to really

delicious short ribs (with black olive polenta, piquillo peppers, and

corizo). Other main course pick is seared branzini with asparagus.

Guests start with choice of smoked salmon with lemon cream and country

bread, or wild mushroom cassoulet with smoked apple bacon. Dessert is

clafoutis with pistachio ice cream or chocolate mikado with vanilla ice

cream. Chef Philippe Ruiz is in the kitchen? It's a deal. Closed Sunday

and Monday.

The Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave.,Coral Gables; 305-445-8066



Still the Biltmore, but Fontana does not have Ruiz in the kitchen,

which makes this less-than-generous menu less-than-a-deal. Diners can

begin with soup of the day; fennel and orange salad; or beef bresaola

with baby arugula. Mains are fettuccine with beef ragout and porcini

mushrooms; grilled veal skirt steakpizzaiola-style; or baked basa fish

filets. Dessert is tiramisu or apple tart with vanilla ice cream. Not

real impressive.

The Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave.,Coral Gables; 305-445-8066

Sra. Martinez

Is this menu worth the Spice price? Most likely. Is it a deal? Alas,

no. Diners are privy to one app, two small plates, and a dessert, which

costs almost exactly what one app, two small plates, and a dessert

would cost without the Spice deal. In fact, depending upon what you

order, the Spice menu could actually work out to more than what the

same dishes would regularly cost. Selections include: Tortilla española

and spicy shrimp cocktail are two starters, other three being two

salads and a pan con tomate. The dozen small plates include

bacon-wrapped dates; calamari; chicken wings; mussels al ajillo;

garbanzo stew; Korean style short ribs; potato skins with ham.  Dessert

is flan, torrejas, ice cream, or sorbet. Not available Saturday or


4000 NE Second Ave.; Miami; 305-573-5474

Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill

Really nice menu, with starter selections including corn chowder; salad

with goat cheese and bing cherry vinaigrette; golden beets with white

sardines and ricotta cheese; and sepia with cured lemon. Main courses

sound tempting too: bbq chicken; florida snapper; chirashi bowl with

marinated tuna, yellowtail, and salmon; and robata duck breast with

somen noodles and chanterelle mushrooms. Chocolate chip ice cream

sandwich or lemon curd with marinated blueberries rounds out the

sure-to-be-tasty meal. So why is this not a deal? Same as above:  you'd pay the

same amount of money for just about any three-course meal on the reular menu, so there's just no need to limit yourself to this one.

3250 NE First Ave., Miami; 786-369-0353

Tony Chan's Water Club

The single listing of menu items suggests that each table of two or more are presented with the following plates: Spring rolls; baked sea scallops; seafood in bird's nest; sweet &

sour tilapia; sauteed Shanghai greens; and fried ice cream. Not bad for

a twosome, but limited for any more than that. Plus there's something a

little too fishy about this selection. No deal.

Doubletree Grand Hotel, 1717 N. Bayshore Dr., Miami; 305-374-8888

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Miami New Times' restaurant reviewer for the past decade, and the world's indisputable master of disguise.
Contact: Lee Klein