Michael Mina was one of the first major national culinary influencers in Miami, I would say, he was here before the major ‘chef’ trend began. His restaurant Bourbon Steak has in Aventura for years, at the Fairmont Turnberry Resort. Most recently, Mina took a major step in the right direction, opening Mina 74 at the Fontainebleau Hotel on Miami Beach.
Occupying the space of the late Arcadia Nightclub below LIV in the main lobby of the hotel, it is very distinguished among the other restaurants on the property. With a powerful staircase that brings you down this path of no return (yes, it is one of the restaurants in Miami, that once you start going to, I foresee it becoming a caloric habit), you will have a tremendous dose of gratitude if you in fact did read about Mina 74 here.
I went to experience Mina just a week ago. It was eleven days after it officially had its opening. I walk in and am greeted by Rod. If you are a Miami local, you know Rod. This dapper gentleman ran Rumi in the 90’s, and ended up at Hakkasan, and Rod is now running the show at 74. That is a great start to a perfectly running establishment, hence the amazing service all evening. As you know, service can make or break the dining experience, and from the ‘who’s who’ that were dining among us, including Haute supporters Ruth and Alan Zelcer, Deco Drive’s Louis Aguirre, Director Michael Bay and the Chaplin family, everyone had smiles on their faces while delving into Mina’s cuisine. When I asked Mina what he brings to Miami that we don’t already have here, he tells me “if you look at your surroundings, we bring elegant and chic with attention to detail. We also serve food late night, until 3 a.m. but we start at 6 p.m.”
We [Kristina Brumer, my mother Dale and I] started with the raw bar, that the friendly staff wheels out tableside. Literally from the sea to the table, we chose oyster’s. Although the Nigerian Prawns seemed interesting, we played it safe. They were incredibly sweet with a cucumber and cantaloupe natural flavor, I have never experienced an oyster like this in Miami. Then we were sent over many items to sample, that included Tuna Tartar, with a quail egg, minced garlic, diced jalapeno and toasted pine nuts. This Tartar was also prepared by the server, tableside and was garnished with Minate Ancho Chile powder and Sesame oil with Jabanero. This appetizer was the favorite of my mother, Dale. Then we sampled the Crispy Rice with Yellowtail. This was Mina’s modern take on every other chef’s typical Tuna Crunchy Rice, and it was much more unusual and better. After the appetizers, because everything was served more family style, we sampled the Japanese Kobe with mushroom herbs sprouts, Bok Choy that was simmering in a Dashi broth and Mushrooms. It is the unusual kind of dish that is comparable to a designer version of the Koran Barbecue. You cook your meat in the broth using chopsticks. It is sort of chic in its own way. Then as if that was not enough, we tried the entrée’s: Potato crusted pompano w cauliflower puree, the Black Cod Udon Noodles with Mustard Foam, the Wagu Moroccan Short Ribs that are cooked in a Moroccan Barbecue with Carrot Curry puree accompanied by Pomegranate Couscous and a Filet Mignon basted in red wine butter served in a pot with hay. Yes, it is quite creative, torched and smoked with hay; with a celery puree, pearl onions and baby turnips. One bite was better than the next, and word on the streets from Dr. Fahed Fayad, a food connoisseur, is that they have the “best burger in town, baby.”
Then it was desert time. I must say, my favorite desert happened to be the most healthy option: the Coconut Merengue Pavlova, named after the Russian dancer Anna Pavlova. I suppose it is how she kept her figure when she wanted satisfying sweets. It is a MUST to clean the pallet. It is served with a Pineapple Sorbet.
During my dining experience, I further asked Chef Mina a few questions.
Any very special drinks here?
We created ‘the Kramer.’ It is our play on the Cosmo. We self carbonate and pre-bottle service here! Go figure it is $74 (Mina 74) for 750 ml. It is made of Grey Goose Vodka, St. Germain Elder Flower Aperol and fresh Lime Juice.
If you could choose one dish that would be your favorite, what would it be?
The food based on high flavor and balance but one dish? The quail.
What is your favorite local restaurant, besides your own?
Michael Schwartz’ place: Michael’s Genuine.