Side Dish

Forget about one. Nine is the luckiest number. If you're Klime Kovaceski, that is. The chef-owner of Crystal Café is celebrating his ninth successful season this August. He's also marking his nineteenth year of cooking on Miami Beach, which makes him just about a native at this point. But don't think his party is personal. The public is invited to participate by partaking of his latest deal, a four-course dinner for two for $79. That includes a bottle of wine, so for twelve-steppers it might not look like such a bargain. But for those of us who remain loyal to the cause, that's a good bit of vino and victuals for the buck.

Also about to turn nine: the Coral Gables Oktoberfest. The schnitzel will start sizzling on October 24 and keep on cooking until the 26th. Not that participants will remember the last 24/7 or so of the weekend, if this year's festival is anything like the years before, which have consistently contributed to our collective early memory loss. At least I think they did. I actually can't quite remember. Nevertheless the Oktoberfest will be sponsored by the SNL-inspired, soon-to-debut Hans & Franz's Bierhaus, which we can, it's hoped, take a bit more seriously than Dana Carvey in an Arnold Schwarzenegger suit. Or, for that matter, Schwarzenegger in a governor of California suit.

As far as nine goes, Pascal's on Ponce is one-third of the way there. Chef-proprietor Pascal Oudin's eponymous eatery is noting its third anniversary in a long-term way: On every Wednesday night from now until the end of the year, Oudin will be offering both bottles from his private wine list and rare and favorite bottles at one-half off list price. Hard-to-find vintages at good prices? Now that's the way to celebrate the end of the terrible two's.

Speaking of two, it's a number La Broche officially won't be seeing. Just days after hosting a party to mark his controversial restaurant's one-year anniversary, chef Angel Palacios, a Food & Wine Magazine's Best New Chefs of 2003, has announced the end to speculation. Since the owners pulled out a few months ago, the intrepid chef has been attempting to keep the Brickell restaurant on track, hoping his recent accolades would help bring in customers. Alas, lack of revenue, of which he was operating off pretty strictly, has forced him to close. But tempering loss is better than courting debt; I'm told Palacios refused to end his reign by owing his staff money or stretching his credit, along with his credibility. Note to investors: The chef is headed back to Spain, where he hopes to work in the balm of the El Bulli lab under his mentor Ferrán Adria. But he'll be in Miami for another month at least tying up loose ends and packing up foam canisters. Perhaps somebody can convince him to stay. -- Jen Karetnick

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Jen Karetnick is an award-winning dining critic, food-travel writer, and author of the books Ice Cube Tray Recipes, Mango, and The 500 Hidden Secrets of Miami.
Contact: Jen Karetnick

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