Thursday, August 23, 2007

Eat It - Emeril's - 1601 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, FL 305-695-4550

Have you heard of Miami Spice? Well, for once, the fact that things take longer in Miami is a good thing. Our restaurant week lasts two months. I know, I know, how can it be 23 days in and this is my first Spice review? Anyhoo, like most cities, I presume, the Miami Spice menu is a prix fixe of $22 for lunch and $35 for dinner.

The Miami Spice website is great, by the way. There is a map of all participating restaurants and their locations. Some restaurants only offer the Spice menu during certain days, or only for lunch on the weekends. Emeril's is one of the ones that has dinner on Fridays and Saturdays, so that gets them a lot of credit. They also make you feel like a welcome customer, unlike, say, at Delano's Blue Door, one of the places I checked out last summer (before Eat It, Miami was born), where they had the unsurprising attitude of resentment that we would be there to "get a deal".

We were greeted by a welcoming host who put absolutely no pressure on us to take our seats since we were waiting for one of our fellow diners. When we were all there, we took our seats and were immediately given cocktail and wine menus. The waiter brought the Spice menu just after we placed our drink orders and gave us helpful suggestions as we scanned the choices for our 3-course meal. He didn't even roll his eyes when we ordered the house wine, Emeril's Red Red, which only costs $35 a bottle. Compare that with some of the possibilities from the extensive wine list, such as the Chateau Petrus for $4k. It would sort of defeat the purpose of Miami Spice to order that. Otherwise, c'mon, why the hell not? You can't take it with you.

There was pulled pork on the appetizer menu, so the other choices became blurry and illegible to me. I followed that with the sirloin with goat cheese mashed potatoes. Oh my goodness. Goat cheese mashed potatoes. Why didn't I think of that? For dessert I went with bread pudding, but I got to sneak a bite of my brother's banana cream pie. I was really stuffed by then, largely due to the delicious and varied rolls that keep coming by the table. There's focaccia, corn bread, sweet potato rolls, crispy dinner rolls...and it just...keeps...coming.

As I have said before, we don't expect good service in Miami, but that doesn't mean we don't greatly appreciate it when we get it. The staff was abundant and professional and the dining experience was a positive one for everyone at the table.

Incidentally, I like the "bam" of Miami Herald's own Dan Le Batard better than Emeril's -

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