Side Dish

In a effort to protect his reputation -- or seal his fate, I guess -- Michael Bennett, ex-executive chef of the SouthSide Café in South Miami sent out this letter to the press: "After a rough period of construction delays, logistics problems and some financial constraints, I have been release[d] from my position as Executive Chef of the SouthSide Café. Although I feel no hard feeling towards the termination, I would like for my name not to be mentioned in the future with this property... The Café ownership has decide[d] to operate without a qualified staff and leader so, please any mention of my working there should not be attributed to these current operating practices." Sure, that's not bitter at all. But just so we' re clear: Don't mention Michael Bennett in connection with SouthSide Café. Repeat, Michael Bennett no longer wants to be known in connection to SouthSide Café. So since Michael Bennett no longer works for SouthSide Café, I won't write about Michael Bennett and SouthSide Café.

•Hindsight is 20-20, or at least a double-D: I don't know whose idea it was to surprise nonagenarian architect Morris Lapidus with a belly dancer at the opening of his Art Deco restaurant Aura on Lincoln Road. But given the frailty of the human condition, especially one that's already lasted almost 100 years, it might not have been a bad idea to have 911 standing by....

•Just when Bayside couldn't get any less appealing to locals, Lombardi's has gone one merengue step further to cater to the cruise-ship crowd. Enter the Conga Bar, a Caribbean-style tiki hut offering outdoor tropical drinking and northern Italian (?) dining. Complement those homemade pasta and veal dishes with the signature "Congarita," which is served in a pineapple. No doubt these flavors really go well together. Then work it all off on the Conga Line, following the electric dance moves of the Conga Bar dancers. The QE2 should have it so good.

In other shipboard news, the Titanic Brewing Company just launched its latest millennium product: a limited-edition smoked porter ale named, aptly enough, Smokestack Millennium Ale. In my eyes, at least, that beats the Budweiser limited-edition brewcrap. And while we're on the subject of the most commercial and overmarketed New Year's Eve ever, kudos go to the Ship for offering the cheapest celebration yet -- open bar and gourmet buffet for $99 per person. As opposed to places like the Delano, where getting appropriately liquored up is gonna run you more like $1999.

Send your tasty tidbits to Jen Karetnick at 2800 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33137. Or e-mail [email protected]

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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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