|Good Luck, Long Life, New Year|
|Written by Pamela Robin Brandt - BT Contributor|
Food news we know you can use
Happy New Year! No, we’re not a month behind. Chinese New Year is this month, starting on February 9 (New Year’s Eve) and running through February 15 -- or longer. Some celebrate for an additional week with spectacular “lion dances” (to evict bad spirits), red angpow envelopes containing cash and, especially, all manner of ritual foods to ensure good luck in the coming Year of the Snake.
That means readers who neglected to eat the western world’s traditional New Year’s Eve/New Year’s Day lucky foods on January 1 get another chance with lucky Asian foods, many symbolizing wealth and abundance (dumplings resembling Chinese ingots, green lettuce wraps representing currency), plus longevity noodles, key to a long life. Just don’t cut them before eating.
For those who’d rather not make their own dishes, much less their own lion masks, Brickell Key’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel will be offering the traditional dancers plus multicourse dinners featuring longevity noodles and many foods granting abundance at both Azul ($135) and Café Sambal ($85). Reservations: 305-913-8358.
And now on to recent restaurant openings, which have also been abundant.
B Sweet (20 NE 41st St.; 305-918-4453). Tucked into a former apartment building near N. Miami Avenue, this cozy indoor/outdoor coffee shop, from the husband/wife team of Karina Gimenez and Tom Worhach, isn’t easy to find; it’s not yet on Dacra’s official Design District map. But it’s the source of pastries that are arguably the most elegant in Miami: tiny berry-studded crème brûlée tarts; almond-rich peach frangipane squares; a white-and-dark chocolate mousse cake worthy of Paris’s patisseries. Surprising for a neighborhood bakery; not surprising considering Worhach’s previous exec pastry chef posts, including the famed Mansion at Turtle Creek and Palm Beach’s Four Seasons.
Fish Fish (13488 Biscayne Blvd., 786-732-3123). Another venture from a married team, Rebecca Nachlas and Melvyn Franks, this sophisticated yet warm seafood restaurant/lounge also features a welcome surprise: a market, where home cooks can buy any of the delivered-daily fresh fish or shellfish offered on the changing menu, including stone crab claws from their own Florida Keys processing plant. And Oscar Quezada, longtime chef at Islamorada’s Lazy Days, has the kitchen impeccably together. Sample happy hour’s scrumptious new $6 bar bites and you’ll stay for larger treats like greaselessly fried whole red snapper with Thai and lemon aioli dipping sauces.
Primo Trattoria Italiana (2216 NE 123rd St., 305-891-3312). Another new family-owned eatery. Is Valentine’s Day this month? Anyway, Saverio “Primo” Macaluso and his wife had a long journey from their native Sicily, with stops to run trattorias in Rome and Tampa, to bring North Miami Italian favorites like mushroom ravioli with butter/sage sauce, stinco d’agnello (lamb shank and veggies braised in red wine), and for take-out customers only, pizzas.
The Embassy (4600 NE 2nd Ave., 305-571-8446). This gastropub has no sign except an upside-down one, reading “exit,” over the front entrance. But I guess you need no sign when the chef is Alan Hughes, whose pioneering Buena Vista restaurant One Ninety was attracting hordes back in 2002, before the Design District had any there there. The Embassy features live music and stays open late (midnight Tuesday-Thursday, 3:00 a.m. Friday and Saturday). Featured food: pintxos, artisanal tapas typical of San Sebastian, gourmet capital of Spain’s Basque country.
Alba (17315 Collins Ave., 786-932-9305). From bad-boy celeb chef Ralph Pagano (a contestant on Hell’s Kitchen and Iron Chef), this beachside Italian spot (in the Sole on the Ocean resort) serves seafood, pizzas, housemade pastas, and old-school Italian-American entrées. Entertainment highlight: The “Vinny D Split,” a game enabling tables to win their meals for free.
Bonding (638 S. Miami Ave., 786-409-4794). In the space formerly occupied by French bistro LouLou (whose recent closing I missed), this Thai/sushi spot is from Bond Trisransi, originally behind Mr. Yum, 2B Asian Bistro, and extinct Soi Asian Bistro (whose closing I also missed. Ouch!). Ambiance, including loud music, is aimed at the young; dishes like crispy duck salad with tamarind dressing appeal to all, as do affordable prices.
Georges Kitchen & The Loft (3404 N. Miami Ave., 305-438-9199). You’ve probably already heard of this stylish, sultry restolounge for the wrong reason: an alleged owner/customer brawl that hit local front pages. Focus instead on French-inspired small and big plates: an especially savory short rib tartare with capers, deviled egg, and caviar; addictive Idiazabal cheese churros with zesty romesco sauce. Upstairs is The Loft, a sleek lounge.
Volume 14, Issue 2, April 2016
Downtown Miami’s Cultural Center keeps its eye on the arts