Miami Spice Returns to the Gables
By Lizzie Wilcox
We hope you’re hungry, because Miami Spice is back with 30 participating restaurants in the Gables alone. The two month-long event allows food lovers to eat a three-course meal at some of the best spots in the city for just $23 for lunch and brunch and $39 for dinner. For the sake of our waistlines, we went to just seven of the restaurants (bolded).
Ad Lib, Amore Restaurant & Bar, Aromas Del Peru, Bellmónt Spanish Restaurant, Brasserie Central, Bulla Gastrobar, Caffe Vialetto, Christy’s, Cibo Wine Bar, Doc B’s, Fiola, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse, Fontana, Graziano’s, Kao Sushi & Grill, Mariposa Restaurant at Neiman Marcus, MesaMar Seafood Table, Morton’s the Steakhouse, Ortanique on the Mile, Palme d’Or, Pascal’s on Ponce, Ruth’s Chris Steak House, Sawa Restaurant & Lounge, Seasons 52, Seek & Find, Shula’s 347 Grill, Talavera Cocina Mexicana, Tap 42, The Seven Dials, Zucca
Starter: For an extra $4 you can upgrade to a lobster bisque, and for $10 you can upgrade to a handsome piece of octopus with saffron aioli. But if you are a steakhouse purist, you’ll go with the Caesar. Theirs is a “modern Caesar,” which has all the crunchy salty bite of a traditional Caesar, but with fried capers and crispy prosciutto to give it an extra punch.
Entrée: Again, you can go with the barbecue salmon, or even the lamb, but this is a steakhouse after all. And this tender, flavorful half pound filet mignon is simply unbeatable. And for $15 more you can upgrade with a lobster tail topper, but really not necessary.
Dessert: Cheesecake. This is no ordinary cheesecake. Laced with caramel or strawberry sauce, it’s fantastically rich and savory. Life has so many regrets; eating this will reduce the list by one.
Starter: Croquetas de Jamon. We order the croquetas every time we go to Bulla, so we were excited to see them on the Spice menu. Made with Serrano ham, these bite-sized croquetas are perfectly paired with a fig jelly for dipping. Entrée: Curry Chicken. You know it’s going to be good just from the smell of the spices that hit you as soon as the waiter sets the bowl in front of you. The chicken was good, but what really stole the show was the bread to soak up the leftover sauce at the end.
Dessert: Churros con Chocolate. These melt-in-your-mouth sticks of fried dough come with a side of dulce de leche and a warm dark chocolate sauce. The serving size is six churros, so there are plenty for sharing when your friends who didn’t order them have dessert envy.
Starter: Cauliflower Soup. Honestly, we were unsure about this one, but it surprised us. The toasted pinenuts and watercress salsa verde are served in a bowl and then the broth is poured at the table. Even in the summertime, we would recommend this soup.
Entrée: Glazed Berkshire Pork Belly. This flavorful strip of meat is so tender that it falls apart at the touch of the fork. Served atop a salad with a refreshing raspberry vinaigrette. Dessert: Summer Berry Tarte. A perfect lunchtime dessert because of how light and fresh it was. From the raspberry in the tarte to the strawberry crème fraiche sherbet, all the berries are ripe and sweet. On the side are pickled peaches. We didn’t know you could pickle a peach, but hey, it was delicious.
Dinner (Lunch/brunch not available)
Starter: Poached Octopus. The octopus is cooked to perfection – crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside. Dip it in the creamy aioli and eat it with the corn salad all in one bite for a forkful of flavors.
Entrée: Seared Duck Breast. Instead of an entire breast, the dish is cut up into smaller cubes, making for a really beautiful presentation (would you expect anything less at Palme d’Or)? Heed the wait staff ’s advice and order it medium rare for the juiciest duck you’ll ever eat. Dessert: Cheese Plate. Though it’s overwhelmingly difficult to pass up on French pastries, the cheese selection was calling our name. Ordering this dish is an experience. The wait staff rolls their cheese cart up to the table and you’re left to choose between over a dozen different types, from soft to hard, mild to stinky. The cheeses you choose are then supplemented with bread and a variety of jellies.
Cibo Wine Bar
Starter: Pomodori. How could we pass up on Caprese salad at an Italian restaurant? Impossibile! The cheese was incredibly fresh and the tomatoes were perfectly ripe.
Entrée: Gigli (pronounced jig-lee, which we now know vis-à-vis our mini Italian lesson from the waiter). The pasta is topped with cherry tomatoes, zucchini, black olives and tossed in extra virgin olive oil. It’s everything an Italian dish should be. Dessert: Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta. To put it in Miami terms, it’s like an Italian flan. In lieu of caramel, the predominant flavor is vanilla bean. It’s paired with fresh fruit and a prosecco fizz, because all of the best desserts have some alcohol component. In September, Cibo is switching up the Spice menu, so you can go back without having to eat the same thing.
Talavera Cocina Mexicana
Starter: Pork Carnitas Tostada. A traditional Mexican snack, the softness of the caramelized pork carnitas nicely complements the crispy tortilla. Bursting with flavor from the guacamole, cilantro, onion and salsa. Entrée: Shrimp Al Ajillo. When they say “giant shrimp” they’re not kidding. Four shrimp are sautéed with garlic and served on a bed of parsley and white rice. Not that the dish is lacking in flavor, but it also comes with half a lemon on the side for the zest fans out there. Dessert: Flan. This was one of the richest flans we’ve ever had, which says a lot for someone who lives in Miami. It was so thick and creamy it put all other Latin desserts to shame.
Kao Sushi & Grill
Starter: BBQ Ribs. So, how does a sushi place put ribs on the menu? Without apology, since these little babies are tender and delicious with an Asian spin to them – a sweet mango/bbq sauce that make them the star of the menu. Entrée: Chicken & Vegetable Rice Wok. Kao fuses Peruvian flavors with its sushi, which is one reason people eat here. The combination creates layers of flavor. In keeping with this Lima-leaning, the wok dish is Peruvian-style fried rice, with veggies, egg, red onions, cilantro and chicken. A really hearty dish that you just can’t stop eating.
Dessert: Chocolate Tasting. You’ve only got one shot here (literally, in a shot glass) and it is the essence of chocolate. P.S. If you want sushi, it’s only on the dinner menu.