|Out of the Kitchen, Into the Spotlight|
|Written by Pamela Robin Brandt - BT Contributor|
Food news we know you can use
Last month was an award-winning one for restaurants and chefs in Biscayne Times territory, not just locally but nationally. The most surprising accolade came from Forbes Travel Guide (formerly the Mobil Travel Guide), which awarded five stars -- the guide’s top rating, given this year to only 28 restaurants in the entire nation -- to two downtown/Brickell restaurants: the Mandarin Oriental’s top-end Azul, predictably, but also chef/owner/perfectionist Kevin Cory’s eight-seat indie Japanese jewel Naoe.
The award puts Cory, who serves $85 omakase (chef’s choice) dinners by reservation only, in the company of culinary legends like Thomas Keller (The French Laundry, Per Se) and Joel Robuchon. And last month OpenTable named Naoe #3 in the USA for best service -- which would be Wendy Maharlika, a one-woman show in the dining room.
Additionally, when 2013’s James Beard Awards finalists were announced on March 18, two Miami chefs made the list, one from our side of the pond: Hedy Goldsmith, finalist for Outstanding Pastry Chef. Winners will be announced May 7. Meanwhile, check out her playful desserts, like lemon creamsicle pots de crème, at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, or refined retro/modern creations (like tarragon-spiked Florida citrus chess pie) at Michael Schwartz’s new upscale Design District venture, the Cyprus Room (3620 NE 2nd Ave., 305-520-5197).
There are numerous other intriguing recent openings to investigate, too.
Biscayne Tavern (146 Biscayne Blvd., 305-307-8300). Though the menu at this downtown gastropub, a project from renowned restaurateur Jeffrey Chodorow (China Grill Management), won’t even be complete until mid-April, the place is open and an instant hit. Chef Will Biscoe’s food has been described as “Southern comfort meets urban fusion.” Most intriguing snacks so far: housemade potato chips with blue cheese fondue; eggplant fries with tomato jam; a poached duck egg on frisée with hog jowl lardoons, candied walnuts, mustard/shallot dressing.
Temaris (1250 S. Miami Ave., 305-836-2747). Brought from China to Japan around the Seventh Century, temaris are hand balls. Used for sport but also considered folk art, the decorated balls are made from silk kimono scraps. Here at 23-year-old Venezuelan native Alex Perroni’s new eatery, temaris are bite-size balls made from sushi rice plus artful Asian/Latin American fusion toppings as delicious as they are decorative. Favorite temaris: Tokyo (spicy tuna, almonds, tobiko, stripes of huancaina sauce); Machu Picchu (white fish ceviche, scallion, aji amarillo sauce). Appetizers and entrée specials, too.
Daily Melt (3401 N. Miami Ave. #123, 305-573-0101). April is National Grilled Cheese Month, the perfect time to try this self-billed “ultimate grilled cheese” eatery -- as long as you don’t expect too much from early publicity touting Allen Susser as the chef behind the place. The connection is purely through his restaurant and hospitality consulting firm, not in the kitchen. As for ultimates, don’t expect artisan cheeses, or the creatively complex reinventions of traditional foods that Susser brought to Chef Allen. The aim here is “a simple, tasty menu that can be duplicated and executed in multiple locations.” That is, to create consistent chain food. Do expect sandwiches that convey homemade grilled-cheese goodness without the flaws found at home -- improperly melted cheese, burnt bread, etc. And prices are a fraction of those at gourmet grilled-cheese food trucks.
Kouzina Greek Bistro (3535 NE 2nd Ave., 305-392-0506). In the space formerly occupied by Tapas & Tintos, this festive indoor/outdoor place has native Greek owners and a chef, Alexia Apostolidi, who’s also from Greece but will be familiar to Miamians for her fresh, top-quality dishes at North Beach’s defunct Ariston. Kouzina’s menu features mezes, both traditional (hummus, tzatsiki) and unusual (bacalao croquettes with garlic purée and roasted beet coulis).
Mercato (4141 NE 2nd Ave., 786-332-3772). Adjacent to Dena Marino’s hot new MC Kitchen, this just-opened artisanal market and breakfast/lunch café is for diners who want a quicker bite, or outstanding take-out. Pressed for time? How about a pressed sandwich like Marino’s Italian Cubano (with porchetta, prosciutto cotto, Swiss, pickles, and Dijon mustard dressing)? Also served, along with hot or cold sandwiches: a wide variety of elegant homemade breakfast pastries, breads, cookies, and fresh-baked quiches, plus salads and a daily changing soup. Market items include interesting jams, craft beers, and Marino’s private label EVOO.
No need to wait for farmers’ market days to score Freddy and Danielle Kaufmann’s made-in-Miami artisan sausages. Proper Sausages now has a proper home (9722 NE 2nd Ave., 305-401-0176). Also featured: Florida-raised beef, Florida-brewed beers, and on weekends, prepared foods.
Volume 12, Issue 2, April 2014
A month-long poetry festival once again covers the county
Sales, special events, and more from the people who make Biscayne Times possible