Miami Spice: Deal or No Deal? Hotel Edition

In parts one, two (steakhouse), and three (Asian) of our series, we perused the Miami Spice deals from various participating restaurants and put in our two cents as to whether or not they were worth taking advantage of.

Today we take a look at those hotel restaurants 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

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?

Keep going to find out the answers concerning Blue Door, Emeril's, Essencia, La Marea, Scarpetta, Solea, Tamara, Vida, and Wish...


Blue Door at Delano

Diners can start with the restaurant's signature appetizer, jumbo

ravioli filled with taro root mousseline, white truffle oil, and

mushroom cappuccino. That's a good one, but other choices are salmon

tartare with tapioca caviar and wasabi vinaigrette, a buffalo

mozzarella and tomato salad, or seared yellow fin tuna with marinated

daikon. Main courses are mango-marinated pork loin with black Thai

risotto; free-range chicken with fingerling potatoes, wild mushrooms,

Chinese okra pickles and black truffles; hearts of palm risotto with

giant shrimp, lobster foam, and white truffle oil; Chilean sea bass

with heart of palm. Dessert choice is between a raspberry napoleon with

bourbon-vanilla ice cream or dulce de leche spring rolls with Old

Jamaican vanilla rum sauce. This Spice menu offers an appealing,

creative, well-balanced choice of selections. Only good Sunday through


La Marea at The Tides

Another creative menu, starting with seafood-jicama salad, tomato soup

with lobster grilled cheese, or a popper trio with hamachi, tuna, and


Mains are either yellow tail snapper with jasmine rice and edamame,

braised short rib with truffled salsify puree, or NY strip steak with

foie gras, tempura, and wild mushroom fricassee. Dessert: Buñuelos with

Mexican vanilla ice cream, or cheesecake lollipops.

Scarpetta at Fontainebleau Miami Beach

Raw yellowtail with baby greens; burrata cheese with heirloom tomatoes

and arugula; braised short ribs of beef with vegetable & farro

risotto; creamy polenta with truffled mushrooms. Not bad for starters.

Next: Signature spaghetti with tomato & basil; branzino with

lobster fricassee; spice roasted chicken with polenta and morel

mushrooms; bone-in prime aged sirloin of beef with trumpet royale

mushrooms. Beautiful. Dessert is either chocolate cake with toasted

almond gelato and salted caramel sauce, or mocha swirl cheesecake with

espresso sorbet. Makes me hungry just typing the words. Available each

night but Saturday.


First course: cherry gazpacho with manila clams; signature

low-temperature egg in chick pea broth; ham croquettes; or chorizo and

quail egg flatbread. Hearty second course selections are braised veal

cheeks; roasted suckling pig; local seafood stew; or seared local

snapper. Desserts weigh in with crema Catalana with cinnamon ice cream or chocolate ganache with passion fruit sorbet. Sorry, not on weekends.

Tamara at National Hotel

Wide array of choices, including onion soup, boston salad, Greek shrimp

and orzo, smoked tomato fondue, and Prince Edward Island mussels . Main

selections are likewise diverse, from Kobe meatballs to braised top

round of beef with oxtail, to paella with seafood, chicken, and

chorizo. Lots of other choices, too. Desserts are pots de créme, chévre

beignets, and Key lime tart, among others. Offer good every night.


Emeril's Miami Beach

It starts well, with choice of daily gumbo, soup of the day, barbecue

shrimp, or a golden beet salad. Entrées  are mahi mahi, free-range

chicken breast, double cut pork chop, or guava barbecue portobello

mushroom. Lemon meringue tart, peanut butter chocolate mousse cake, or

sorbet trio are the dessert picks. Sounds like you can get yourself a

dinner that after tax/tip/etc. is pretty much almost kind of worth $50.

That's no deal. Offer good every night.

Essensia Restaurant & Lounge

This is a case where an establishment is a victim of its own fair

pricing. Choice of red pepper-potato bisque, organic orchid petal

salad, or smoked duck salad is fetching, as are mains of yellowtail

snapper with black Thai sticky rice and baby bok choy; rosemary roasted

free-range chicken; and grilled loli pop pork chop. Chocolate chai pot

de créme with bing cherry turnover sounds great for dessert, as does a

coconut tapioca soup. But the three-courses are not much more if added

up on the regular menu  -- at which point you might as well pay the

extra bucks and get exactly what you want. Places like this should

consider adding another course or beverage to the deal.

Vida at Fontainebleau

Strange that the other Fontainebleau properties are all being generous

this year, while Vida, the one place that probably wouldn't be worth

wasting Spice on even with a generous menu, is going cheap cheap cheap. <

of pasta, chicken, or short ribs. Are they kidding?>>

NOTE:A Fontainbleau rep contacted me to say that Vida's menu is $35 like everybody else's -- and forwarded a link to the hotel website that has the correct price. Turns out it was Miami Spice's error (it says $38 on the MS-linked menu), so we take back and apologize for the mockery. However: Still no deal.


Another joke of a menu. One of only two starter choices is bread!

OK, it's stuffed naan bread, but still. Other choice is artichoke

salad, Entrees are salmon or hanger steak, dessert is panna cotta or a

chocolate-hazelnut sandwich. This just might be the most miserly menu

we see. Why bother?

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