|Enough Already with the Sliders!|
|Written by Pamela Robin Brandt - BT Contributor|
Food news we know you can use
January is the month that restaurant goers get curious about what they might be eating the rest of the year, and food industry folks always compile endless lists telling them. Don’t bother wading through ’em all. I’ve done it for you.
A major 2013 predicted trend that has made multiple lists is the expansion of the farm-to-table food concept to farm-to-bar: drinks using seasonal local fruits, veggies, herbs, and even cured meats (chorizo-infused tequila; bacon-infused bourbon). More drinks with tropical/Latin accents, too, making Miami the natural trendsetter (think housemade chipotle-pineapple syrup).
Other predictions include tasting menus tanking even further, small-plates menus continuing to climb; more charcuterie boards; more emphasis on vegetables, particularly leafy greens (kale could be this year’s Brussels sprouts); fast-food chains adding gourmet items; more Middle Eastern flavors, particularly tart/fruity sumac, plus more Asian condiments/spices (you know sriracha, and by 2014 you’ll know gochujang); weirder desserts, using veggies or savory spices; more mini food items: pizza “sliders,” cinnamon bun “sliders.”
A trend I’d personally love: less ignorant terminology on menus. Not every mini-size food item is a slider, chefs/restaurateurs! (Historically, a grease component -- enabling the alternatively named “gut bomb” to slip right down one’s throat and, shortly thereafter, exit elsewhere -- is vital.) And don’t even get me started on every thin-sliced food item being called a carpaccio.
This month’s new restaurants feature many of these trends -- minus mine.
Momi Ramen (5 SW 11th St., 786-391-2392). Having recently gone rather ramen-noodle nuts on a trip to NYC, I can say that Momi’s soup noodle bowls rival some of that city’s best. Noodles are made fresh several times daily (as are the skins of the gyozas garnishing half the bowls, along with veggie toppings; pork is the main topping in the other half). What most makes the bowls superior, though, are their three types of unusually full-flavored and hearty broths, cooked down for almost a full day: tonkotsu, based on pork bones; miso, tonkotsu with fermented seasoning paste added; or chicken-based shoyu.
Olé (100 Chopin Plaza, 305-577-1000). Adjacent to chef/restaurateur Richard Sandoval’s lunch/dinner restolounge Toro Toro, in the main lobby of downtown’s renovated InterContinental Hotel, this breakfast-only eatery also serves mostly pan-Latin-inspired food. Together the restaurants replace Indigo, whose food was mostly uninspired. An expansive early-morning buffet did make Indigo a power breakfast destination, and an all-you-can-eat option remains, along with à la carte choices. The food is just hipper and more modern Miamian.
Casablanca on the Bay (1717 N. Bayshore Dr., 305-371-4930). This snazzy indoor/outdoor seafood spot on the Doubletree’s second floor is a sister to the Miami River’s original Casablanca market/restaurant -- which has its own fleet, so you know the fish is fresh. The menu is basically the same, but with small plates (including a charcuterie board) and a massive wine menu added to match the upscale-lounge ambiance and million-dollar view of Biscayne Bay.
PastaBox (60 SW 10th St., 305-371-3114). This fast-food Italian eatery features recipes from a former fine-dining chef (Frederic Joulin, ex-Villa Mayfair), and a concept popular in Europe: Create your own quick custom pastas by combining your choice of carb, then choosing from varied housemade sauces (and possibly à la carte protein toppings), then picking portion size. And yes, it comes in a super-cute box, so it’s stylish as well as swift.
Feverish Ice Cream and Gourmet Pops (3252 NE 1st Ave. #120, 305-482-1832). The Feverish folks have been selling their popsicles from a food truck (actually a little food Toyota) for several years. This is their first brick-and-mortar shop. Go, grown-ups. The weekly changing 25 varieties are far from the fake sugar-water flavors of your childhood. Fresh fruits and herbs, plus occasionally booze, are used to create frozen-pop concoctions like orange cilantro, strawberry balsamic, jerk chocolate or vanilla, and Star Stripe (starfruit and Red Stripe beer).
Safi Restaurant and Gourmet Market (20 Biscayne Blvd., 305-375-0055). In the space originally occupied by Mia, this restolounge (with a small deli/market component) has mostly Mediterranean-inspired food with international fusion pop-ups. Dishes are basically familiar. It’s the menu’s mix that’s different: lots of popular pastas, plus French onion soup, teriyaki-sauced tuna, an old-fashioned American resort-type crab cocktail, chicken quesadillas, and (she said with a sigh) “sliders.”
Also new: a second Democratic Republic of Beer (501 NE 1st Ave., 305-372-4161) and a third Salsa Fiesta (18167 Biscayne Blvd., 305-931-7401).
Volume 14, Issue 2, April 2016
Downtown Miami’s Cultural Center keeps its eye on the arts