If anyone doubted we were in “the season”, doubts would be dispelled with the number of high profile new restaurant openings. Here’s the scoop on that, as well as recent closings, a spirits infused ice cream store in the Design District, the best Spanish tortilla in town, hot spot Ghee Indian restaurant now serving lunch in the Design District, and more in Eating News for January.
High profile restaurant closings and reinventions in the past few months have included Mignonette Uptown and Talde (now closed). Meantime, star chef Tom Colicchio closed Beachcraft at the 1 Hotel South Beach. It’s now Habitat run by the Pubbelly group. Another high profile reincarnation is Daniel Boulud’s DB Bistro Moderne which is now Boulud Sud.
Ice Cream and Spirits
Do you say “cheers” when you have chocolate hazelnut martini ice cream made with Hendrick’s gin? Or how about sante when you have the tangerine mimosa made with Moet & Chandon Imperial Brut? Very cool best describes AUBI & RAMSA, a store selling ice cream made with alcoholic beverages and spirits. As they so well put it, “we’re in the business of expanding the enjoyment of wine and spirits beyond their liquid state”. In the Design District, 172 NE 41st Street (T.305-946-9072), the place even looks like a bar, though the ice cream is carefully under wraps in the freezer. Among the 18 flavors are dirty mojito made with Zacapa 23 and highland truffle flavored with 12 year aged Macallan whiskey . The ice cream comes in a round tin, a single serving of 3.7 ounces costing $6 – $9. A pint ranges from $20-$26.
Restaurants for Your “Watch List”
Put on your “watch list” Palat and Sushi Azasu. I recently went to friends and family evenings at both and enjoyed the food, planning to go back when I can experience the service and food once both settle in. Palat is a new addition to Buena Vista, another Med/Italian (they call it Northern Mediterranean) spot with an emphasis on light bites. The menu is very appealing. We tried the plump red piquillo peppers stuffed with crab and Manchego cheese, tuna tartar bites, and the star, grilled branzino – – a moist filet with crisp crackling skin garnished with zucchini soffrito. Another standout was the not the usual dessert entry, olive oil cake – a moist pound cake with a jelly like raspberry glaze . The decor is minimalist, casual, with an open kitchen. It was fun and buzzy the night we went, though not for a quiet conversation. Prices range from $8 to the high teens for salads, pastas and small plates. A limited selection of large plates is $36 and up. Palat, 4702 N.E. 2nd Avenue, T.786-953-7577.
Seven time Michelin award winner Sushi Azabu New York just opened Azabu Miami Beach in the Marriott Stanton South Beach in the sizzling hot South of Fifth neighborhood. Led by Chef Masatsugu Kubo (Chef Masa), it houses various concepts under one roof including a full-service dining room, hidden sushi counter with Tokyo-trained chefs called The Den, and Bar Azabu, a classic-style cocktail bar showcasing sakes and over 40 imported whiskies.
A large, open-format kitchen where guests can observe chefs preparing dishes using the customary Japanese cooking method of Robata is another centerpiece of the restaurant, a charcoal grilling technique using special Binchotan charcoal. The overall experience within the space is an Izakaya dining style, where guests can order a variety of sharable dishes like Robata-grilled Yakitori, Japanese fried rice served tableside on a sizzling Tobanyaki grill, and other traditional fare such as Udon. Azabu’s Japanese Raindrop Cake, a jelly made with Pearl Agar and 90-percent water, served with ‘Kinako’ dried soybeans and Japanese brown sugar syrup, will be a staple on the dessert menu. The evening we went everything was buffet which is seldom a very good test. That being said, the quality of the ingredients in everything we sampled (wagyu beef skewers, sushi, tartar, lobster tempura and raw seafood bar) was outstanding, and the outdoor terrace promises to be a big hit.
Best Spanish Tortilla in Town
The best Spanish tortilla – the combo of eggs, potatoes and onions, has to be from Spanish restaurant Xixon at 2101 SW 22nd Street Coral Way (T.305-854-9350). I’m pretty picky in that department and my younger son, who studied in Madrid, even more. It’s tough to get it right but they did – a little runny inside but firm on the outside, and just the right combo of ingredients. If you’re having company for dinner, it makes a perfect hors d’oeuvre. Serve it whole and let guests cut off a slice. A half is $10.
Ghee Opens for Lunch
New Indian dinner hot spot Ghee, offering Gujarat inspired cuisine, is now open for lunch in the Design District. The menu is limited now – a choice of one menu with a choice of entree (vegetarian or other), three dishes in all, and a specialty bread. It is served in a typical Indian Tiffin steel lunch pail with four sections that come apart and serve as serving “plates”. We had sauteed cauliflower with cumin and mustard seed, curried chicken, and brown rice and quinoa with puri bread. Portions were on the small side, but everything was tasty. Lunch is $16 with a non vegetarian entree and $18 for vegetarian. Wine, beer and soft drinks are available. Ghee, 3620 N.E. 2nd Avenue, T. 786-636-6122 is closed Sunday and Monday. No reservations, but the day we went it was easy to find a table. In the evenings you need to make reservations a week in advance. The original Ghee is in Dadeland Downtown.
Welcome Eating Addition to Coconut Grove
Brussels import Le Pain Quotidien, 3433 Main Highway (T786-854-4743). opened late last year in the Grove, offering another casual spot for all day dining. It’s a two-floor space with an open kitchen and bilevel dining rooms with seating for 100 people and outdoor sidewalk tables as well. With multiple locations in the US and Europe, it’s known for its sourdough bread baked on site, and the large selection of pastries looked pretty darn good as well. Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the restaurant offers a good sized selection of pastries, smoothie bowls and tartines, as well as open-faced sandwiches on their 100-percent organic sourdough bread.