Top Five Picks From Miami Spice

Usually summers in Miami are called “the slow season” and that is why Miami Spice helps Restaurants focus on locals and target those of us who live here year-round, but this has been a season for the books. A large number of hotels were unexpectedly booked through August without any vacancy. The social scene was filled with a torrent of celeb sightings and Haute events that kept us out all night and we fortunately escaped all the significant hurricanes of the season.

In an unexpected turn we have noticed the addition of several new restaurants that opened up and enrolled in Miami Spice, so we can catch a glimpse of what they are previewing at a very reasonable price. We only have til the end of the month to take advantage of the Spice menu’s and indulge or try out the participating restaurants. You never know, you just might be able to discover your new favorite restaurant.

We made our selections based on their $35.00 Spice menu options, cuisine, ambiance, variety and taste. With so many restaurants vying for a share of the local crowed it can be difficult to identify who the front runners are. Here are our top 5 Haute picks for you to enjoy as much as we have.

1. The Forge:

Surprisingly they spared no expense and you are served the same quality and the same portions as the regular menu. The menu changes every week so I will definitely be repeating my visit. The endless enomatic wine selection garners a following all on its own and boasts an impressive list of over 75 bottles you can choose from by the glass. My biggest temptation and the first time I have found an establishment to offer Opus One by the glass.The stain glass ceilings are still a jaw-dropper and the recent change in décor brings in A-listers and turns them in to regulars. Our spice diner started off with Smoked Salmon Croquets with a delicious guava sauce that had a surprising kick and Chicken Liver Crostini’s with onion jam, chopped egg and smoked onions that seemed to have disappeared way too quickly. We followed it with a Grilled Salmon cooked to perfection where it was still moist inside and crispy on the outside on a bed of hearts of palm and green salad with a two orange reduction sauce that combined a blend of sweet citrus and tart that had you wanting more. It was accompanied by Basil Mashed potatoes to balance everything out. We also had the grilled Angus Filet Mignon that could only be made better with their Forge Four Mustard Sauce. If that wasn’t enough we toped it off with a Peach Crisp accompanied by a Tahitian vanilla ice cream  and a Flourless Chocolate Torte with candied Kumquats.

2. Fontana

Was an amazing culinary experience where we were treated to an amazing  barrage of flavors for our pallet. Situated in the historic Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables it abounds in history and luxury and La Fontana brings it to a pinnacle in the options available in their Spice menu.  We started with a refreshingly light Insalate Di Gamberi e Spinaci which included baby spiniach and shrimp tossed with mango, fennel and mint mayonnaise sprinkled with green mango dust and the Insalatta di Prosciutto e Pera consisting of baby frisée, prosciutto, poached pear, basil vinaigrette and walnuts. For our second course we were happily surprised the wood oven roasted quail stuffed with wild mushrooms over black risotto and grilled pepper sauce that inspired an old world country dinner. We also had the pan seared trout filet with grapes, basil, almonds and chardonnay sauce that fused savory and sweet flavors for a gastronomic delight rarely seen in Miami, let alone on a Spice Manu. We concluded with a deconstructed lemon cheese cake topped with fresh raspberry preserve, hazel nut cookies and cassis sorbet as well as Tahitian vanilla bean custard and berries.

3. Smith & Wolensky

A true staple of South Beach with inspiring sunsets and an unmatched setting for outside dinning along the jetty. Smith &Wollensky offers more than just a treat for your pallet. Miami Spice’s only influence to their menus and portions was the price. This is a true example of what spice was created for, where you get to try the best they have to offer for a fraction of the price. We started with a Watermelon salad with clamata olives and French feta cheese that gives your taste buds a nuance between sweet and salty, we also went with Wollensky’s Famous Split Pea Soup. For our entrée’s we had to take advantage and get their quintessential Charbroiled Filet Mingnon with Béarnaise Sauce grilled to a perfect Medium Rare and had it melt in our mouths. We also had the Miso Marinated Atlantic Salmon that was continued with the sweet and salty flavors but was surprisingly moist. For dessert we had the New York Cheese cake and an amazing twist to the traditional: Chocolate Crème Brulee.

4. Vic & Angelo’s

Most of us know of Vic and Angelo’s from Palm Beach but they have caused a big stir since their recent opening on Ocean Drive. They have been able to bring a snapshot of their Palm Beach menu to Miami Spice and create a traditional Italian vibe with a vibrant Deco Ocean Drive décor. The happing bar scene is a flutter with an eclectic mix of people clamoring for the gourmet coal oven pizza and drinks before hitting the night life. The only risk is you might run is not wanting to leave. We started with their famous 11oz. Old School Meatball with san marzano, whipped ricotta, peppers and basil and the Shrimp Scampi Toast made with white wine, lemon, peas and toasted garlic. For our entrée we had to endulge in the Grand Street Pizza with meatballs, ricotta, fresh basil and Italian tomato. We also had the Snake River Trout with artichoke, giant beans, rapini, and lemon; you could savor how fresh the fish was and lightly infused by all the flavors. For dessert we enjoyed the creamy tiramisu so much we had to order a second, and delighted in the sense that it was made the same day.

5. Egg & Dart

Recently opened in the Design District on the corner of Miami Ave and 41ST, Egg & Dart ushers in a new era of Greek cuisine and comfort food. This little known eatery made our list because it is a delicious departure from your normal array of steak houses and Italian standards. Call me a glutton but it was a beautiful sight not being able to see the wood from the table because it was covered with so many plates full of delectable Mediterranean treats. Some of the highlights we enjoyed from their endless Spice menu were the multitude of Hummus, Tzatziki and Yogurt sauces to dip perfectly fried Zucchini Croquettes and a traditional Greek Salad with a Feta Cheese, that I need to know where I can buy it after we leave. We also had the Jumbo Shrimp Saganaki but, it was the Tomato Ouzo Feta Sauce it was marinated in, that made it so memorable. We also had the Lamb with a number of sauces to mix and try, though it was braised to a beautiful almost pink hue. For dessert we had their traditional Baklava as a perfect end to a varied feast. This is not your average restaurant where you have separate courses but enjoy a barrage of different dishes, sauces and dips, it lends itself to experiment with your own senses and will surprise you at how much you can enjoy the variety.

Photo Credit Michael Pisarri

Run (don’t walk), to any of these picks and try them for yourself before Miami Spice ends.

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