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Archive for the ‘Recent Additions’ Category

BOCCE BAR

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

3250 Northeast 1st Ave #107
(786) 245-6211
bocce-bar.com

Bocce Bar occupies the location vacated by Sustain, and just a few steps down from Sugarcane on NE 1st Avenue in Midtown.  This is convenient for Executive Chef, Timon Balloo who has been at the helm of the kitchen at Sugarcane Raw Bar and Grill for four years.  Balloo also now presides over this newest Italian addition to the Sushi Samba empire. As the name implies, diners are indeed invited to play out front on Miami’s first bocce court while enjoying dinner al fresco.

Inside, a hostess graciously welcomes those preferring to dine in the main dining room, and leads the way into a large space adjacent to a high energy bar and directly in front of an open kitchen equipped with a brick oven.

A rustic atmosphere prevails, where rickety vintage wooden chairs, tables and worn tiles underfoot, complement mismatched mirrors on the walls.  The staff is very friendly and sometimes, a bit too helpful. The current epidemic of small plates continues here.  Semolina dusted crispy artichokes with mustard seed aoli is a palate pleaser; as was a rich polenta further enhanced by a poached egg and served aside brocolini to balance the richness.

The fromaggi section of the menu offers three cheeses for $22 and includes a ricotta di bufala with English peas, mint and truffles, taleggio accompanied by walnuts, and parmigiano Reggiano with honey and grapes. While Salumi  arrives with a radicchio marmalade and giardiniera, a relish of pickled vegetables. In the pasta category, two homemade pastas appear, pappardelle with mushroom ragu and spaghetti with Key West shrimp, shaved baby artichokes and bottarga.  Handcrafted pasta makes all the difference, but orecchiette with duck and butternut squash, likewise is a good option.

Moving on to the main dishes, the Brasato de Manzo, or slow braised short ribs lacked the intense complex flavors and the melting texture one expects.  Try instead, the lamb shank honey roasted, potato and citrus grilled leeks, or the Murray farm chicken, brick oven roasted with olives, cherry tomatoes and a pan jus you could devour with a giant spoon  This is the real star of the Secondi, bursting with deep flavor and a truly complex character.

One dessert is a must here.  Honey crisp cannelloni served with warm stewed strawberries and 25 year-old balsamic and gelato is a champion recipe not to be missed.  Bocce makes it’s own Limoncello and Amaretto in house, and has a large selection of specialty drinks, many take off from the classic Negroni with Campari as the point of departure.

Monday – Thursday: 11:30 am – 11:00 pm
Friday – Saturday: 11:30 am – 12:00 am
Sunday: 11:30 am – 11:00 pm

MERCATO

Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

4141 NE 2nd Avenue
786-332-3772
Mckitchenmiami.com

Dena Marino of Mc Kitchen has launched a charming, casual breakfast and lunch petite cafe on Second Avenue, adjacent to her fine-dining establishment. This fills a void in the Design District which had few options for high quality, quick takeout or very casual eat in restaurants.  The neighborhood business people are overjoyed. The menus is limited to sandwiches served on croissants or mulitgrain baguettes.  Fillers include roasted turkey, Swiss cheese with fruited mustard a and local arugula($10) or rosemary Cotta ham, provolone, local arugula and mustard seed aioli.($9)

“Pressatas,” (pressed sandwiches) such as the Cubano, with shaved porchetta, Cotto ham, melted Swiss and Brooklyn pickles for the carnivore, or marinated and grilled garden vegetables, raise the bar on grilled sandwiches.  Three salads are on the menu at $9-$11 and ask for the  soup of the day, if you call for takeout.  Cream of cauliflower, sampled recently, was an elegant rendition. All the salads are as fresh as spring after a light rain. Free Wi-Fi are available.

Luscious looking pastries and a Lazzaro coffee should fit the bill for the afternoon tea time.

Monday -Friday: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Saturday: 9:00 am – 3:00 pm

Mmmm

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

2519 Northwest 2nd Avenue
(786) 703-3409

An informal cafe called Mmmm, has sprouted just across the street from Joey’s Cafe and the Wynwood Kitchen and Bar.  It’s a Parisian interpretation of the small plates craze. Mmmm presents exceptional salads and sandwiches that are nuanced and urbane adaptations of American and French classics.

This venture is the creation of Parisian-born art collector Cathy Vedovi, whose family has been coming to Miami since the 20′s, when her French-Canadian grandparents would head South to escape the harsh winters. Vedovi was inspired by a similar Parisian tartine shop next door to the Poilene Bakery on the left bank.

This is where hot pink neon (the outdoor signage) and tropical banana leaves on the exterior set the stage for Miami’s introduction to the tastiest lunch to be had in the area. The focus is on “tartines”, defined and refined by the French as a “slice of bread.”  As in Paris, a perfectly toasted slice of poilene bread,  a country sour dough bread, is topped with choices that include filet mignon, salmon or pulled pork among others; and held together with amazing swaths of homemade mayonnaise customized for each protein.

Chef Alan McLennan, is a native of South Africa who knows how to balance the distinctive flavors, and his creative touches invariably work.  Chunks of mushrooms and artichoke hearts are paired with a lusty tapenade, thin slices of grilled chicken over lemony mayonnaise are finished with a sun dried tomato and micro greens.  Smoked salmon, on a tartine of course, marries well with grainy mustard mayonnaise, fennel and a touch of dill. Why not celebrate the contrasts of flavors and textures with a decadent glass of Billecart-Salmon Rosé champagne?

Four salads and one soup are presently offered and the three salads sampled measured up admirably to the mouthwatering tartines.  Shanghai chicken salad with ginger hoisin dressing on Nappa cabbage, Nicoise salad and Cobb salad were all extremely fresh and beautifully presented.

Salads and tartines range from $10-$15. A $10 lunchtime special is available, serving the soup of the day and a half portion of the tartine of your choice. Desserts include a flourless chocolate cake accented with a smear of fresh raspberry sauce and a coconut cake.  A big draw at the entrance is a cooler stocked with Azucar ice-cream made right here in Miami’s Little Havanna. Lavazza coffee makes a nice finish to an inventive lunch in a charming new dining spot. Outdoor dining is also available in the courtyard.

Closed Sunday
Monday – Saturday: 11:00 am – 8:00 pm

THE CYPRESS ROOM

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

3620 Northeast 2nd Ave
(305) 520-5197
thecypressroom.com

This compact, recent opening from Michael Schwartz hits every comforting note on your palate by extolling the virtues of local, focusing on fresh, simple ingredients.  Located on a less populated area of Second Avenue in the Design District, the room sports a clubby atmosphere; at once cozy and congenial, while a bit retro.  Matching deer heads line one wall facing a bar on the other.  Toile de jouy wall covering festooned with animals is further embellished with old Florida photos and mismatched china of grandma’s era sits atop starched napery. The decor is offbeat in every sense of the word.   The hostess is warm and accommodating and the service on several occasions was perfect.

Starters are all excellent but don’t miss the delicate slivers of royal red Cape Canaveral shrimp, commingling with coconut milk, lime and puffed rice added for a bit of crackle and a touch of humor. The heirloom beet assortment, smoked, raw and roasted, makes a stunning presentation when sharing the plate with ribiola and pistachios. Marrow bones, frogs legs and classic onion soup round out the retro feel and were equally well prepared.

The Pre-Theatre menu ($49 until 7 pm) is an excellent way to sample Chef de Cuisine, Roel Alcudia’s risotto with lump crab and stinging nettle pesto which was offered on one occasion. The full tasting menu offers five courses at $95 with selected wine pourings at $155. On the a la carte, rack of lamb perfectly crisped at the edges was mouthwatering and every bit a taste sensation. Bean ragout and eggplant caviar served as perfect accompaniments.
A vegetarian dish of wild mushrooms, asparagus and a napoleon of chevre are also included on the menu.

The wine list is extensive with a well balanced list of wines by the glass.  Not to be outdone in the resurgence of house made specialty cocktails, the “Nicknack” with Death’s Door gin, Ardbeg scotch, damson plum, and herbs, or a “Calle Ocho”, a mix of Rum, JM Agricole, hibiscus, lime, tonic ,egg white and coconut water are standouts. The neighborhood is changing for the best thanks to the rapid expansion of the District, but, prices are high here even though the customers don’t seem to mind.

Closed Sunday
Monday – Friday:  12:00 pm – 2:30 pm
Monday – Thursday: 5:30 pm – 11:00 pm
Saturday: 5;30 pm – 12:00 am

THE DISTRICT

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

190 Northeast 46th Street
(305) 573-4199
thedistrictmiami.com

The District, located several blocks from the ultra chic Design District has been an instant hit with the locals.  The Buena Vista neighborhood lies just north of the Design District and is likewise in the midst of a revitalization of sorts.

A casual mood prevails and this contemporary Pan American restaurant looks like it has always been here. Just off 2nd Avenue, the owners have taken advantage of this leafy quieter local to construct a wrap around outdoor dining patio experience.  But that is only the half of it.  The restaurant is a restored historic home. Contemporary art is installed in a room that is a blend of the old and the new; industrial metal with warm, stripped down brick and wood.  The artist, Juan Rojas has created a dramatic painting in black, white and greys for the ceiling.  Other works enliven the room but it is the menu here that creates the spark.  We started with the tacos, prominently listed on the menu and well worth their placement. Tuna tartar and lobster tacos are a good introduction.  Corvino, cobia and octopus ceviches are fresh and generous in size.

Chef Horace Rivadero worked with Douglas Rodriguez, known as the father of “Nuevo Latino” in America. And Rivadero has assimilated much.  He was voted Food and Wine’s 2012 Best New Chef for the Gulf region.

Monday – Thursday: 12:00 pm – 11:00 pm
Friday: 12:00 pm – 12:00 am

Saturday – Sunday: 10:00 am – 12:00 am