|Stay Home and Take Out|
|Written by Pamela Robin Brandt - BT Contributor|
Food news we know you can use
Not that it isn’t a relief during winter’s high-tourism season to see Miami’s restaurants automatically packed. But as a resident rather than visitor, I can’t help anticipating the return of summer, when even the best restaurants must work their brains to a nub trying to figure out ingenious treats to lure us locals out of our air-conditioned abodes.
One such temptation, at Wynwood Kitchen & Bar (2550 NW 2nd Ave., 305-772-8959): taste of the Americas, featuring ultimate signature dishes from a different Latin American country, every Thursday of each month. June highlights Peru, home to, arguably, Latin America’s most sophisticated cuisine. But July’s menu from Venezuela (chef Miguel Aguilar’s native nation) sounds mighty irresistible: a mini-arepa trio; tenqueños (traditional cheese sticks) with garlic crema; and Venezuela’s unofficial national dish pabellon criollo (beef ropa, maduros, queso, beans, rice, and egg).
Meanwhile, many recently opened restaurants also await.
Soï Chinese Kitchen (645 NW 20th St., 305-482-0238), just across Wynwood’s western border, this mostly take-out/delivery spot (with a few indoor counter seats and some cute patio tables outside) is what the midtown area, despite its exploding restaurant scene, needs many more of: an excellent contemporary Chinese -- not old-school, cornstarch-laden Chinese-American -- restaurant. Admittedly, there are some Southeast Asian flavors, too, but that’s just modernist chef Izzy Almonte (formerly of NeMeSis), traditionally oriented Erick Luo, from Kendall’s Mekong), and menu consultant Brett Rayon (ex-Azul) playin’ witcha. No General Tso here. Try crispy wings with locally made Cuban sriracha, palm sugar-glazed char sui ribs with corn pancakes, tangerine-dressed honey-soy roast duck salad with maple-butter almonds.
Wolfgang’s Steakhouse (315 S. Biscayne Blvd., 305-487-7130) hearkens back to days when “steakhouse” meant steak -- dry-aged, for bold beefy flavor, not wet-aged for economic reasons. In fact, here the beef is actually dry-aged on premises. Back to the days when “appetizers” meant extra-thick bacon or maybe shrimp cocktail; “sides” meant old-fashioned potatoes (like cottage fries); “vegetables” meant creamed spinach or sliced beefsteak tomatoes; and “chef-driven preparations” meant nothing. For noncarnivores, there are lobsters sizable enough to saddle up and ride off into the sunset.
Cipriani (465 Brickell Ave. CU1, 786-329-4090). Located on the Miami River in Icon, this sophisticated spot, derived, like the other 19 Cipriani family eateries worldwide, from legendary Harry’s Bar in Venice, has been open only three weeks and is already stirring up local controversy owing to prices (large) and portions (smallish). But here’s one controversy Cip is clearing up: carpaccio, which is how most menus describe anything sliced super-thin. When patriarch Giuseppe Cipriani invented the dish at Harry’s, he named his creation -- raw beef drizzled with streaks of creamy white vinaigrette -- for its resemblance to paintings of Venetian-school artist Vittore Carpaccio, known for his use of brilliant reds and contrasting whites. So please note, chefs/restaurateurs: thin-sliced eggplant isn’t carpaccio, nor is beef dressed with colorless extra virgin olive oil. (Sorry… It’s a pet peeve.)
Paprika (1624 79th St., 305-397-8777). Remember Ben Neji’s Wine 69 in the Upper Eastside, an ahead-of-its-time wine bar/shop that featured creative global tapas and multimedia art/food/drink events before both became fashionable? Ben is now pushing the envelope in North Bay Village, as GM and part owner (with majority owner Stephane Aloui) of this new Middle Eastern restaurant/hookah lounge. Food menus were conceived by Fabrizio Carro of Lincoln Road’s famed Quattro Gastronomia Italiana; the hookah menu features virtually everything smokeable that’s legal.
World of Beer (3252 NE 1st Ave. #112, 786-431-0347). With 50 rotating drafts and 500+ bottles on hand, WOB makes the important point that beer is food. And the only necessary accompaniment is live music (three nights a week). But if you feel differently, more than half-a-dozen neighboring Shops at Midtown Miami restaurant partners, including Lime Fresh Mexican Grill and Machiya will deliver anything from tacos to tuna tartare to your bar stool.
Namaste is gone. Darn! Perhaps prices at this unpretentious Indian eatery were so blessedly low (it was easy to eat for under $10) that finances just didn’t work out. Or perhaps the hidden spot was too easy to whiz by without noticing -- on a traffic-heavy but ungentrified stretch of the MiMo District. (Hint: Biscayne Boulevard’s higher-visibility but still relatively ungentrified Edgewater stretch could sure use a place whose menu, like Raja’s downtown, included hard-to-find South Indian vegetable specialties like dosai and idli. If only some compassionate landlord would cut these folks a break.
Volume 13, Issue 12, February 2016
Her private collection captures the esteemed critic’s love of local art
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