New Menu at The Setai Grill
Inspired by chef Mathias Gervais' childhood in southern France.
April 01, 2013
When Mathias Gervais was appointed to be executive chef of The Setai Miami Beach last year, it was the perfect opportunity to revamp the hotel’s restaurant to compete at the top of the city’s culinary boom. French-born Gervais—who at age 34 has already worked with some of the world’s top culinary talents, including chefs Joël Robuchon and Christophe Cussac—sought to offer a steakhouse menu closer to the fare he grew up with in Taradeau, a small town in Provence. This led him and chef de cuisine Thomas Griese to focus their new menu on top-quality meats, a broader incorporation of organically sourced ingredients, and the creation of more in-house sauces to enrich the dishes.
Gervais sources meats from some of the finest butchers in the country, including Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors; the restaurant is the only establishment in Miami to carry exclusive cuts from this famed New York supplier. For the ultimate dining experience, try the 60-day dry-aged 32-ounce bone-in tomahawk steak, accompanied by the Perigueux sauce made with fresh black Périgord truffles and a port wine reduction. Sides include steamed Hudson River asparagus and organic potatoes Diamant with Bretagne butter and fresh parsley.
Chef sommelier Daniel Toral, also a recent arrival at The Setai Grill, does his part to raise the bar, with an expanded global wine selection of more than 700 varieties and over 4,000 bottles. He’s also acquired an improbable rarity: a Heidsieck & Co. Monopole Gout Americaine 1907 recovered from the shipwreck of the Jönköping, a Swedish freighter that sank in the Baltic Sea in 1916, preserving the Champagne in near-perfect condition. That’s what’s known as stepping up. 2001 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, 305-520-6400
photography by gary james
Sake Reaches New Heights at Zuma
A more nuanced take on sake is emerging in Miami.
March 07, 2013
The ultra-rare Kakurei Hidehiro Shinbo Daiginjo sake ($1,900).
If the only question you’ve ever asked about sake is “hot or cold,” then Sayoko Ieto would like to have a word with you. At Zuma, the hit contemporary Japanese restaurant at the Epic Hotel, she meticulously curates an ever-evolving menu of nearly 100 sakes. The dizzying selection reflects the fact that more and more Americans are being swept away by the allure of the Japanese libation, a fermented brew every bit as intricate and exhaustive in its craftsmanship and gastronomic possibilities as any wine.
“It used to be that people only cared about sake bombs,” Ieto says. “Now customers want to learn everything about it.” Indeed, Japan has seen exports of the spirit double in the last decade, with America becoming the third-largest importer worldwide. According to Ieto, what’s most impressive is our rapidly growing appreciation for tokutei meishoshu—premium sake brewed from rice that’s been polished down to less than 70 percent of its original size. It offers a purer taste than the utilitarian futsushu table sake and presents several sub-designations such as junmai (which tends to be more vigorous), honjozo (often smoother), and ginjo (which is more delicate).
And there’s some real upper-echelon stuff starting to hit our shores. There are only 300 bottles of ultra-rare Kakurei Hidehiro Shinbo Daiginjo in existence, 18 of which are in the US. Zuma is currently home to six. “I have been lucky to taste it, and I can only describe it as deeply complex yet exceptionally pure,” Ieto says. “Elegant.”
The new sake horizon can be daunting, but it’s also enticing. Ieto recommends sake flights, a tasting platter of different varieties—an experience that has become all the rage at Japanese izakaya restaurants like Zuma all over the country, and even in Japan, where younger drinkers are themselves just as new to the mysterious intricacies of sake as we are. Have fun exploring.
Small Batch Miami Club Rum
Miami Club Rum, our town’s first local liquor, hits the shelves.
January 14, 2013
Produced locally, Miami
Club Rum offers distinct
You’d think with all the drinking that goes on in Miami, we would have had a distillery here long ago. Stepping up is Miami Club Rum, a relatively small-batch operation housed in Wynwood, which started production this year and is now providing 305-based white rum to establishments such as nearby Sugarcane, The Electric Pickle Company, and Wood Tavern, as well as Zuma and Abbracci. Founder and master distiller Matt Malone was inspired by his wife’s family, fifth-generation rum producers based in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico. Malone’s rum is made with molasses produced with Florida sugarcane, and he adds a Miami touch: Each batch contains French oak curls and is showered with loud salsa music for 90 days—he claims the vibration releases flavor from the curls, enhancing the natural chemistry of the aging process. Tours and tastings by appointment, 2320 N. Miami Ave., Miami, 305-438-9994
Sushi Mikasa Flies South
Kim Kardashian’s guy pal Jonathan Cheban brings New York’s famed Sushi Mikasa south this winter.
January 07, 2013
Fluke with poached quail egg topped with truffle oil.
A family friend of the Kardashians and owner of Command PR, Jonathan Cheban adds restaurateur to his résumé with the opening of Sushi Mikasa’s Miami outpost at the Shelborne South Beach. Designed to reflect South Beach’s Art Deco past, the eatery is decked with dark teak tables and peacock-blue velvet walls. With Cheban’s glitterati connections, the restaurant is expected to lure celebs, but the true draw is sushi chef Kevin Chun, founder of Brooklyn’s original Sushi Mikasa. Chun has created a menu with both exotic flourishes and novel takes on raw fish, with specialties such as monkfish liver sautéed with butter and soy sauce; torched toro with ginger garlic sauce; and Chun’s signature Tuna Pizza (wafer topped with tuna slices and truffle sauce); as well as a bevy of raw fish, much of it flown in daily from Japan. The eatery also touts omakase-style dining, where diners sit back and let Chun orchestrate an unexpected narrative of food. Sushi Mikasa, with its New York reputation, and cast of characters, may well turn into an epicenter of Miami VIPs. And you know what they say: It’s easier to keep up than catch up. 1801 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, 305-535-3500.
Broken Shaker Returns
Bar Lab's Broken Shaker returns to the beach to stay.
December 17, 2012
Roy Alpert of Freehand Miami with Bar Lab’s Elad Zvi and Gabriel Orta
It was with great sadness that Miamians watched the Broken Shaker, the beloved pop-up bar from Bar Lab’s Gabriel Orta and Elad Zvi, close last June. Now it’s back, and for good this time, with a permanent space in the recently renovated Freehand Miami (previously Indian Creek Hotel). Opening just in time for Art Basel, Broken Shaker has kept its artisanal bar concept, with Orta and Zvi sourcing herbs from the venue’s onsite vegetable garden, created with the help of Farmer Jay Pure Organics. Beyond drinks, Broken Shaker will also offer a full-service restaurant helmed by GastroPod and Pickle People’s Jeremiah Bullfrog, slated to open in early 2013. The menu will feature modern small dishes purposely paired with handcrafted, seasonal cocktails. Other drink highlights include a variety of homemade fresh tonics, vermouth, and ginger craft beers. With these rich boozy offerings, you can celebrate a resurrection that has nothing to do with church. Freehand Miami, 2727 Indian Creek Dr., Miami Beach, 305-531-2727
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ADRIAN GAUT
Miami's Best Milkshakes
Miami’s most alluring milkshakes.
December 17, 2012
The bar at Burger & Beer Joint
Burger & Beer Joint
Part hedonistic burger house, part chic sports lounge, B&B offers an “Adult Shakes” menu frothing with liquor and decadent ice cream. Top choices include the One Minute Man with Godiva white liqueur, Kahlua, and cookies ’n’ cream ice cream; and the Spank the Monkey with rocky road ice cream, UV Cake vodka, fresh banana, and crème de banana. 1766 Bay Road, Miami Beach, 305-672-3287
The Diner at Allen’s Drugstore
Wander past the full-fledged pharmacy and watch-repair counter to a hidden 1950s diner that has maintained its old-school roots. The servers whip up rich, creamy shakes, offered in all the traditional flavors and fittingly served with whipped cream and a red Maraschino cherry on top. 4000 S. Red Road, Miami, 305-668-6556; mypharmacy.com
Glaser Organic Farms Hosting the Coconut Grove
Farmer’s Market every Saturday, Glaser Organic Farms provides guilt-free “milk” shakes for the calorie-conscious by using local coconut water and coconut meat as a dairy substitute. The vegan shakes are available in chocolate or vanilla with a choice of cashew, almond, or Brazil nuts mixed in. 3300 Grand Ave., Miami, 305-238-7747
Los Pinareños Frutería
Made of sweetened condensed milk and ice instead of ice cream, the batido is the American milkshake’s Latin cousin. This Cuban open food market on Calle Ocho offers tropical flavors such as mamey, mango, papaya, avocado, banana, and wheat. Guayaberas and free-range chickens deliver a Caribbean ambiance. 1334 Eighth St., Miami, 305-285-1135
Norman Brothers Produce
A produce market with plenty of locally grown ammo for fantastic shakes, Norman’s offers versions made with ice cream or frozen yogurt, plus a fat-free, no-sugar option. Staple menu items include strawberry, banana, and a Key lime pie milkshake twist on the old Florida classic; seasonal choices feature mango, mamey, peach, and pumpkin for those cooler days. 7621 SW 87th Ave., Miami, 305-274-9363; normanbrothers.com
Robert Is Here
What began as a roadside cucumber stand opened by the 6-year-old Robert in 1960 has grown into a farm market with a riotous array of tropical fruits used in its renowned shakes. Try the passion or dragon fruit milkshakes, while petting the emus and goats out back. Ask the now 59-year-old Robert about the story behind that audaciously printed sign on the roof. 19200 SW 344th St., Homestead, 305-246-1592; robertishere.com
Romanicos uses only the richest ingredients, such as chocolate that’s imported directly from Venezuela. While truffles and confections are its most popular menu items, this chocolatier also offers a decadent, creamy chocolate milkshake, made by mixing pure chocolate and cream with chocolate ice cream for a glass full of cocoa perfection. 1801 Coral Way, Miami, 305-854-9936
A throwback to simpler times, Wayside Market’s weathered wooden sign boasts that it’s “home of the famous strawberry shake since 1948.” This Pinecrest staple hand-spins shakes in flavors such as mango, Key lime, and coconut banana. Clerks even note regulars’ preferences on handwritten index cards in a Rolodex near the cashier. 10070 SW 57th Ave., Miami, 305-661-6717
Whip n’ Dip
Around since 1985, this old-fashioned ice cream parlor is known for its unusual hand-made small-batch ice cream flavors that change daily. Any flavor can be whipped into a shake, with recent highlights including pumpkin pie, Midnight Mint Oreo, Mocha Mudpie, and Fluffernutter with peanut butter. 1407 Sunset Dr., Coral Gables, 305-665-2565; whipndipicecream.com
Comfort Classics at New Oak Tavern
The Design District's new Oak Tavern eatery cooks up modern home-style fare.
December 10, 2012
Baked mussels with toasted fregola and salsa verde
Chef and restaurateur David Bracha of River Seafood & Oyster Bar fame has planted his roots in the Design District. Oak Tavern is one of the latest eateries to crop up in the oh-so-hot neighborhood, and, true to its name, it has an approximately 28-foot-tall oak tree shading the outdoor courtyard, as well as reclaimed-wood tables inside. Chef Bracha prioritizes sourcing seasonal ingredients from such South Florida growers as Borek Farms and Paradise Farms, and says of the cuisine, “The food is simple. I like to let the ingredients speak for themselves.” In addition to house-curing charcuterie such as coppa di testa and spicy soppressata, Oak has an outdoor spit for roasting pigs, and a wood-burning oven and grill for plating hearty dishes such as “grown-up mac and cheese” (gnocchi with rabbit sausage, truffles, and buttery Taleggio cheese). Bracha hopes guests view Oak as “a home away from home.” Any place that serves grown-up mac and cheese is home in our book. 35 NE 40th St., Miami, 786-391-1818
PHOTOGRAPHY BY OAK TAVERN
Tosca Elevates Fine Dining
Recently opened Tosca plays a bit of one-upmanship with quality ingredients.
December 03, 2012
Tosca, owned by Stephan Fortier, the man behind the now-defunct, swoon-inducing Maison d’Azur in the Angler’s Hotel, is a restaurant that one can’t help but think has something to prove. Before opening recently in the former Eden locale on 23rd Street, Tosca management didn’t merely remodel; instead they gutted the space (to the astonishment of the landlord), exchanging the entire seating area for an open kitchen buttressed by a lavish seafood display, a case full of Parma and pata negra ham hocks, and quite rare 100-year-old balsamic vinegar. Seating is now in the rear; stroll along a brick walkway under leafy bowers to a garden with a film nook, wishing fountain, and an enclosable indoor/outdoor dining room heavy on leather. The mostly European staff is proud of the fact that there are only 20 tables—and apparently no rush to turn them over. But really, it’s the menu that gets showy. Smaller plates include a toro just barely flamed, then treated gingerly with Mediterranean herbs, oil, and sea salt; A5 grade Kobe beef with level 12 marbling used for both tartare with caviar and for a rib-eye entrée; and a salumeria boasting acorn-fed pata negra de bellota aged 36 months. If it’s panache you want, order the fettuccine; servers torch the inside of a Parmesan wheel, toss the pasta within, then plate it at the table with shaved white Alba truffles—its flavor is a thing of fleeting beauty best devoured quickly, which means you won’t have a chance to one-up anyone on Instagram. But maybe it’s better that way. 210 23rd St., Miami Beach, 786-216-7230
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JARMO POHJANIEMI/SHOOT THE CENTERFOLD INC.
Truffle Season at Toscana Divino
The truffle menu at Mary Brickell Village’s Toscana Divino is the pinnacle of gourmet.
November 13, 2012
An ode to the region of Tuscany, Toscana Divino is an epicurean gem in the heart of Brickell. Patrons dine at tables adorned with fresh wildflowers while admiring designer handbags, glassware, artwork, and other items on built-in shelves lining the walls, as part of a partnership the restaurant has with businesses in Florence. Executive chef Julian Baker, who has previously worked in Milan, Trentino-Alto Adige, and Tuscany, deftly alternates between tradition (such as a hearty Fiorentina porterhouse steak for two) and modern interpretations (Chianti-braised veal cheeks with a tomato-ginger mostarda). Beginning November 1, Baker is offering a four-course menu that flaunts both the black burgundy and the much more coveted, Alba-imported white truffles to celebrate the fall/winter truffle season. The prix-fixe dinner ($150) includes a truffle-infused tofu and crispy potato salad; a black and white truffle risotto with truffle marshmallows; and a squab cooked two ways: roasted and as a confit with truffle caviar, squab consommé, and a truffle poached egg. Each plate comes with two grams of truffle shavings to satiate cravings for these rare edibles. And make sure to leave room for dessert—an elegant gianduja (chocolate with hazelnut paste) made with truffle-infused milk. 900 S. Miami Ave., Miami, 305-371-2767
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ALESSANDRA FIORINI
New Organic Fine Dining in North Miami
The new Green House Organic Restaurant gives Miami a fresh look at blending purism and gourmet.
November 06, 2012
Green House Organic Restaurant
At North Miami’s recently opened Green House Organic Restaurant, nature comes together with French and Continental cuisine through the establishment’s dedication to using only organic, sustainable ingredients from around the globe. Produce is handpicked in the morning from The Chef’s Garden farm in Ohio, shipped at noon, and served by dinnertime, and octopus straight from Portugal is cooked sous vide for approximately four hours. Award-winning chef (and former instructor at Le Cordon Bleu in Miami) Marcelo J. Marino follows a purist philosophy of extracting “the most natural flavors possible from the ingredients while cooking with the least amount of fat,” he says, offering diners “discoveries in each dish.” This can include homemade breads and cheeses, old-world-style coated halibut with lobster sauce and Russian kale, and even ostrich carpaccio paired with brandy rosemary-infused cantaloupe and honeydew melon. This month, seasonal dishes include merguez sausages, crab salad, and cod en papillote. 3207 NE 163rd St., North Miami Beach, 305-949-6787