Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Eat It - Le Cafe Pop, 3425 Main Highway, Coconut Grove, FL (786)362-5901

Pop Goes the Weasel

Get Your French On At A Cool New Cafe In The Heart Of Coconut Grove, It's The One You've Been Waiting For

You are so cool.

We mean it. Plus, you'll probably come back and read us again because we make you feel like the macho, urban, successful dude that you are. We'll keep it short, unlike the python in your pants, because we all have ADD now.

Frog Legs.

That's what they used to call you in Navy SEALS training.

Now that you've moved to the Magic City and become a real estate agent/luxury t-shirt designer/model, you, your iPhone and your two girlfriends want to go have a menage-a-trois right in the center of Coconut Grove.

We mean at a French restaurant.

With food.

Remember how we called you "Frog Legs" before? Yeah, well, they have those at Le Cafe Pop. But these ones didn't parachute out of a fighter jet onto the beaches of Bahrain to take out Saddam's sons. Iraq. Whatever.

Do yourself a favor and order a crispy Croque Madame sandwich. It comes served with a side of salad and fries. Get your Pulp Fiction on and dunk those pommes frites in some freshly made mayonnaise. Drown 'em in that stuff. A Croque Madame is a grilled ham and cheese sandwich with a fried egg on top.

We shudder to think what they put on a Croque Monsieur.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Eat It - Dolores, But You Can Call Me Lolita, 1000 S. Miami Ave., Miami, FL (305)403-3103

We're gonna call it "Dolores Lolita," just like they do in the website URL, because, to call the place by its full name would probably be bad for the environment for some reason. Did you know that, if Google made it's homepage black instead of white, then malaria would be eradicated in sub-Saharan Africa? True story.

I'll cut short the digressions this time. To the restaurant review!

Dolores Lolita seems to have found some sort or restaurant pricing sweet spot, located above Chili's and below, say, uh, P.F. Chang's? I'm using chains because I'm hoping the references will make sense to all of my "Eat It, Miamians." With such vast readership, it is important that I be sensitive to cultural and geographical differences. Plus, "Chili's" and "Chang's" provide nice symmetry, what with the alliteration and the fact that both are possessive nouns. But I can't tell what P.F.'s prices are because the website doesn't show them. I think it's kind of moderately expensive. Maybe the Chinese government is blocking that information. 

Incidentally, Chili's new 3 for $20 deal is outrageous. You simply MUST try it. You get an appetizer, 2 main courses (Only a selection of them is available. Don't get the Quesadilla Explosion Salad. It sounds amazing, but it sucks. Mr. Chili, if you're reading this, please, please, don't use the word "explosion" in your dish unless it's really damn good.), and a dessert. You and your date will not be hungry after eating all of that.

If you're too good for Chili's, I'm not going to go so far as to say that you're "one of those Barton G people," but you probably call Taco Bell by the cruel and grossly inaccurate nickname "Taco Hell." It is for this reason that I have taken to calling it "Taco Heaven." Kind of balances out the universe.

What would a Barton G Tex-Mex dish be called, you're asking? Wow, you guys really hate that place, huh. Well, now that you mention it, I bet those epicurean elitists would whip up something called " know, these usually just come to me. Pop right into my head, but I'm struggling with this one. Hmm, how about "Spicy Bandido Burritos?" They bring out a big bean burrito, but while you're eating it, you have to wear two huge ammo belts. You know, like El Guapo -

Or Rambo -

I don't know if you'd call what Rambo's doing "wearing them" but I thought it would be cool to put Rambo in here. He's awesome, that Rambo. Might be easier to eat your burrito if you wear your ammo belt like that. Do they call those bandoleros? I think they might, in which case the dish would be called "Big Bandido Bandolero Burrito." Now it's big instead of spicy. Well, it's still spicy, but it's not in the name anymore.

No good? How about "South of the Border Taco Salad Sombrero" and they serve you a bunch of lettuce and ground beef and cheese in a big straw hat? They also smear dirt on your face so you look like a real, live illegal immigrant who just got dropped off by a "coyote." I think that's what they call the dudes who smuggle people over the border. That's a big, fat fail, too? Ah, forget it. You win this round, Barton G.
So, you might be wondering what happened to getting to the restaurant review. I get easily distracted. That's why I wrote about Rambo in a review of a downtown Miami restaurant. Sly Stallone did live here for a while, so it's not totally out of left field. By the way, have you ever seen that movie "The Specialist?" It's one of those movies that's so bad that you can't turn away. It has Eric Roberts as the villain and Stallone's character makes a lot of calls from pay phones. It's probably Jeff Boden's favorite movie of all time. How on earth did this review get so long? I wish I were paid by the word like Charles Dickens. It wouldn't kill you to click on my banner ads, though, would it? Might give you cancer actually.

So, let's get to the restaurant, shall we? It's about time.

Because of the aforementioned perfect price point situation (I normally hate the term "price point" but I think it works here.), Dolores Lolita seems to always be packed. We went there on a Friday night and waited for like an hour and a half to be seated. This was after we were told the wait would be around 45 minutes. Wait, that's not totally accurate. At first we were told "sorry, we have nothing available." I was like "uh, so we have to go somewhere else?" The hostess then thought for a second and gave me the 45 minutes answer.

So, we went up to the rooftop and had a couple of drinks at the bar. It's lovely up there. Great views of all of the new buildings around Mary Brickell Village and there's usually a nice breeze. The bartender was delightful and the drinks were nicely mixed. So, as enjoyable as it was, our tummies were grumbling for some yum yums. What? That's what I say when I'm hungry! My girlfriend says it's adorable, so there.

Anyway, after waiting so long I was thinking it should really be called "Dolores But You Can Call Me Lo-late-a!" Zing! Just around then, we were seated. And for some reason, we got the best table in the place.

So, if you're unfamiliar with the menu at Dolores Lolita, it's always like Miami Spice. You get a generous appetizer and entree for either $18.75, if you choose from one list of entrees, or $23.75 if you choose one from the other. Desserts are $2.50. That's awesome.

Some dishes of note are the Caesar salad. It's huge and delicious. The main dishes are all good, I think. This last time I went, I had the pork shanks. Two fellow diners ordered the lobster ravioli and turned out to have gotten sick to their stomachs, unfortunately. I don't eat seafood anymore because of an adult-onset allergy, but that's the kind of thing I would probably have ordered in the past. Not sure if it was the creaminess of the sauce or if the lobster was bad, but both who ate it didn't digest it. Hey, better that than on the hips, right? O-oh!

One neat gimmick they have is that they include their gazpacho recipe if you order it, which is nice. I've been meaning to type it up, since they print it out like a receipt, and of course, over time, the ink degrades. This has already happened, like that photo of the McFlys (McFlies?) in Back to the Future. So, in case you want to make Dolores Lolita gazpacho, without disrupting the space-time continuum, here it is (I think. Some of it's blurry, like I said.) -

3-4 Lbs of tomatoes
1 Cucumber
2 Tablespoons of vinegar
2 Green or red peppers (This is strange to me because green and red peppers taste pretty different from one another.)
1 Clove of garlic
1 Cup of water
1 Cup of olive oil
3 Slices of bread
1 Pinch of ground cumin
Salt to taste

Blend all of the ingredients together and chill for at least 4 hours. Serve cold. (Serves 6)

You're welcome.

I almost always order Malbec because I like to make my girlfriend happy and that's the only thing she drinks. At Dolores Lolita they range from 26 to 42/bottle. That's quite reasonable.

For dessert, they totally redeemed themselves by bringing us free tiramisu. It's some of the best I've ever had, but I think I say that every time I have tiramisu.

That's it. That's the review.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Don't Eat It - Dick's Last Resort, Anywhere, Wherever

If Dick's Last Resort comes to Florida, I hope it ends up in Orlando or at least Broward County. No offense, Broward.

If it does, this is my preemptive review -

Me: "May I have a Coke, please?"
Waiter: "NO!"

AHAHAHAHAHA! How irreverent!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Still E.A.T.

A reader comment this morning has inspired me to write a little jingle -

Eat It is the name, we ahead of our game
Still, writing it sassy, but stayin' classy
Still not loving Waxy's (Uh huh)
Still getting in our sardonic licks
Still got love for the streets, repping 786
Still got hunger pangs, still doing our thang
We ain't left, ain't too much changed, still

Representing for them customers across the world
Still eating them pizzas next to Lolo's store

Medium rare is the only way to cook your meat
And we still got love for the beach, it's the E-A-T [Repeat 2x]

Here's the comment -

Anonymous said...

waxy o'connors towed my car also while i was having lunch at the was before 6.00 pm and it clearly says everywhere "waxy's parking 8am -6 pm." bartender said 10 cars from costumers are been [sic] towed PER WEEK.i guess that's how they make their money since the bar is empty all the time.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Eat It - Jaxson's Ice Cream Parlor, 128 S Federal Hwy, Dania, FL (954) 923-4445‎

This is a text I sent just after leaving Jaxson's -

"I almost finished the root beer float and I think I'm going to die. I'm leaving you my copy of American Psycho."

I was obviously delusional because I plan on being cremated with my copy of American Psycho.

Anyway, Jaxson's is famous, I guess. I hadn't heard of it, but when you arrive, there's a line to get in the door and there are cheesy signs all over about how the restaurant has been featured on the Food Network and in Zagat's, blah blah blah. That suggested to me that it would be a tourist trap, but it's really worth checking out.

The smallest portion of ice cream that one can order is 2 scoops. These are no ordinary scoops of ice cream. Oh no. They are slightly less than a pint each and the ice cream, made at the restaurant daily, is extremely rich and creamy.

So, as you read earlier, I had a root beer float. Jaxson's is served in one of those mini pitchers and it has probably a pint of ice cream in it, topped with about 2 cups of whipped cream. It's placed in a large metal bowl because it's virtually impossible not to spill some of it.

If you're ever in the mood for a root beer float, I suggest going to Jaxson's before you've eaten anything. I made the mistake of going there for dessert, after brunch. I eat a lot. I'm skinny, but I eat at least twice as much as most normal people. I felt like I was going to pop after consuming about half of my float. By the time I got down near the bottom, I was pausing between bites, hoping against hope that I would finish. I decided I did not want to throw up in the restaurant, though I'm fairly certain that's happened before.

I'm imagining what a Barton G root beer float might look like. I guess it would probably be called the "Root Beer Float Your Boat" and it would be exactly like any other root beer float you've ever seen in your life except that it has a tiny sailboat in it and it costs $85. Plus, when you notice the cute little toy boat and remark to your fellow diners "Oh hey, a tiny sailboat! How clever!," the waiter runs over to your table and informs you that it would be more accurately described as a "schooner" since it has two masts, and also that you shouldn't have worn white since it's after Labor Day. God I hate that place.

But Jaxson's is cool. Go there. Oh, I almost forgot. It's not cheap. The sundaes cost like 15 bucks but they're huuuuuuuge. The float costs $9.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Eat It - Mr. Yum, 1945 SW 8th St., Miami, FL (786)360-2371

Mr. Yum Asian Cuisine. Sounds pretty standard, right? I've gotta tell you, I don't like that as a theme for a restaurant. I don't like it one bit. You know I'm about to tell you why. Here comes one of my rants that has practically nothing to do with reviewing the restaurant!

You wouldn't have a North American themed restaurant, would you? You wouldn't have a restaurant that touted Caucasian Cuisine, am I right? See, this is what's wrong with America, but also highlights how Asians are using our ignorance against us in their evil plot to take over the world. Now I'm displaying a similar ignorance in lumping them all together, but hey, give me a break. I'm a gringo, too!

Please use a generic Asian accent as you read this. "Hey whitey, you like Chinese foo', you like sushi, you like fried rice, you like Pad Thai? We give all to you in one rest-a-rant."

I can't blame them. For years, anyone who was, uh, Jesus, I don't even know what to call them. Goddammit. I get in arguments with Indian friends of mine who say that they are ethnically Asian when I say that they are Caucasian. I sure am argumentative. Point is that people have, for generations, called everyone who's like that "Chinese." It's like calling everyone who's Hispanic "Mexican." For white people, this does not happen, for some reason. Maybe it does and we don't know about it.

So, what about all of the other "Asians" who don't get the designation that was once known as "Oriental?" Russia is in Asia. Pakistan. Afghanistan. Turkey. India. Yemen. These are all countries located in Asia. Man, this is making me even more upset now that I'm typing it out.

Anyway, you might be disappointed to learn, after all of that, that Mr. Yum has no Yemeni food anywhere on the menu. At least, not that I know of. I didn't look at the menu even once while I was there, since my friends ordered for the entire table. I also don't know what anything costs, because one of my fellow diners (a totally sweet dude) picked up the tab. I am not complaining about either of those things. Frankly, I'd be elated to live a fantasy life where tabs were picked up and I didn't know the price of the things I consumed. Actually, my life was like that until fairly recently, come to think of it.

To the Internet for pricing information! Chicken Pad Thai is 14 bucks. Red curry is the same. Appetizers range from 4 to 20 dollars, but you could easily be satisfied by sharing a few between two diners. The prices are fair and the quality of the food is very, very good. Beer ranges in price from $4 to $6.50. That makes me happy.

Ha ha, I just checked for desserts and they're listed under "desert." I have to keep reminding people that "dessert" is spelled with two esses because you want more of it. We had the very Atkins-unfriendly Twinkies Tempura. I don't think frying Twinkies is necessary. But one could say that I shouldn't crush Oreos up in my ice cream or order ten items when I go to Taco Bell.

Service at Mr. Yum is excellent, though the friends with whom I dined know the owner and he waited on us personally. It's possible that I had a slightly better experience than the average diner, but the place was packed on a Thursday night and people continued to arrive and fill the tables throughout the evening. We spent like 3 hours there, so we saw a fair amount of table turnover. Atmosphere and decor are hip and exciting. Bathrooms are spotless and for some reason I really liked the way the paper towels were rolled up -

As I finish this post, I am remembering that when I lived in Singapore, my host father once offered to bring me home some "western food" for dinner. It took me a little while to understand what he meant, because it came out as "westan foo." Even after I figured out what he saying, I had no idea what that could possibly mean, and it turned out that it was fried chicken, baked beans and cucumber all thrown together in a box that he got at a hawker center, which is basically a Singaporean food court. I suppose that's exactly the same thing as what I complained about throughout this post, but there's no way I'm starting over from scratch. Uh, withdrawn?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Eat It - George's, 3145 Commodore Plz., Miami, FL (305)444-7878

Let me know when this website works, because I'd like to get another look at the prices. For now, it's just some post-modern, black screen. Deep. Probably meant as some sort of metaphor. Life is meaningless. Food will not fill the gaping hole in our souls. You know, that old chestnut. I guess the alternative would be a photo of a cake with a big penis between two breasts. That will make sense later.

A good buddy of mine recently celebrated his birthday at George's in the Grove. It's one of his usual dinner spots, so I was happy to try it out after hearing him talk about it for so long. It's kind of a tourist trap for locals, if that makes any sense, but it's worth checking out. George's is certainly waaaay less annoying than Barton G. It's been voted "Best Restaurant for Celebrating a Birthday" by the New Times, and there were at least 6 other tables who celebrated on the same night that we did. They do make it fun with loud music and dimmed lights accompanying the cake presentation. It's a lot better than the usual restaurant birthday song that makes one embarrassed to be a member of the human race.

From what I've read on line, you can make a reservation, which they'll take over the phone, only to pretend it never existed once you've arrived. That kind of sucks. I strolled in with the first couple of attendees that night and we waited for at least 20 minutes before being seated. That wouldn't have been so bad had there been someone to serve us a drink at the bar. I guess people sit at the bar and eat sometimes, but the restaurant is so packed with tables that you can't even stand at the bar without being completely in the way of the waitstaff. While you're eating, with your legs pinned beside the table's (legs), you are regularly bumped by waiters on the way to the kitchen and diners on the way to and from the potty. I hope they're washing their hands.

The lack of pre-dinner drink was quickly excused when we were presented with glasses of complimentary champagne, one of the restaurant's signatures. It's a nice touch and makes any meal at George's feel celebratory, I am sure.

The food at George's is good. It's not great. It's not surprisingly good. Nor is it disappointing. It's just adequate, I think. The disappointment for me came when, after having pointed directly at the Duck Confit Pizza on the menu to avoid confusion, I was served the regular Duck Confit dish (which is located far away on the menu, by the way). Life is so hard sometimes...

I have a policy of not returning food unless I plan on not eating anything, so I told the waiter that I would prefer not to be charged for the dish I was served, but rather the (cheaper) dish I had ordered, and that I did not want to make a big deal of it. He took the plate away immediately, at which point the diner across the table offered to split his pizza with me (We were a large group and we had only just met. It was, indeed, a gracious offer.). I agreed and canceled the Duck Confit Pizza. I am basically paranoid about sending food back to the kitchen and waiting to ingest a mystery ingredient (bodily fluid) that has been surreptitiously added to my dish. Think "Road Trip" French Toast -

God, I love the internet.

Other diners ordered fish dishes that were pretty average. Mostly, the ambiance and company made for a delightful evening, and the atmosphere at George's is so relaxed that you're comfortable hooting and hollering and having a great time. It really is perfect for birthdays in that regard.

When dessert came, it was clear that we were celebrating with a special birthday boy. The song they blasted seemed much louder and cooler than the typical YMCA and Dancing Queen that had been played for others, and the cake was bigger and more elaborate than ones we had seen presented at other tables.

Here is a photo of both the cake and the birthday boy. His face has been obscured for his protection. Let's give him a pseudonym like, oh, say, Jeff Boden.

Aside from the delicious dessert, when the bill came, of course, we got a cluster fudge. That's what always happens when you have a big group. Everyone feels cheated and, even though the birthday boy was the biggest earner at a table that had among its members grad students and the underemployed, we all paid for him. So, I was a little annoyed that I spent $80 for my share and ate only half a pizza. It's a good thing I drank a LOT of the wine. I had to point out that we had still been charged for the Duck Confit, but that wasn't surprising. That's why you must always check the bill at the end of your meal. The dessert was tasty, but I think they charged us $7/person. That's a little too much.

I know it sounds like I didn't like it that much, but I really enjoyed George's. You should just know what to expect before you go there.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Eat It - Gotham Steak, Fontainebleau Resort, 4441 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, FL (305)674-4692

I think they call it Gotham Steak because you have to be Bruce Wayne to be able to afford eating there. I guess it's not the most expensive place in the world, but it's too expensive for me.

Appetizers cost about $20 and a steak will cost you around 40 or 50. Throw in a side for 12, their cheapest bottle of wine for 60 (I have read that restaurants often rip you off on the second cheapest bottle of wine, since they figure most people don't want to look cheap and order the least expensive, which is usually a pretty good deal), and maybe split a dessert for, I don't know, probably 15 bucks (not listed on the website). Add tax and gratuity and you're easily spending over $130/person at Gotham Steak.

I think this menu was designed for hedge fund managers circa 2006 who would be willing to drop $400/night at the then under-renovation Fontainebleau. While I'm at it, can we please not call it "Fountain Blue?" It's named after a chateau in France named "Fontainebleau," whose name comes from "Fontaine Belle Eau." For all you gringos, it's pronounced "Fawn Ten Blow." That's what the name is.

I'm kind of fed up with people who have just decided that things aren't what they are. I can't go around saying that red lights are green and start driving through them, can I? I guess I can, but it won't be pretty. Those two things have nothing to do with one another, but I'm trying to make a point about something important to me that is, once again, practically completely insignificant. Or maybe it's not...maybe I'm the only sane one in a crazy, crazy world. Sigh, the people who work there don't even pronounce it correctly...

Back to the restaurant. Lucky for the rest of us jokers, Miami Spice allows the common man to still spend more than he normally would on a meal, but get a little taste of the good life. If you're lucky, you'll get a waiter who doesn't roll his or her eyes when you ask for the Miami Spice menu. Ours said "oh, it's a great deal." That was nice of him. He was a real pro. Attentive as could be without being annoying.

The highlight of the meal, other than the wonderful company of my beautiful girlfriend, of course, was the bread. Oh my, the bread was so, so good. It's like a little present. The rolls are baked in a small ceramic dish, assembled into sort of a large, muffin-looking super roll. Like a Voltron of rolls, if you will. For my younger readers, this is Voltron -

See, all those cats are robots controlled by the different members of the team and they can come together to become Voltron and defend the universe. Pretty awesome, I know. The rolls? Right, the rolls. I ate, if I remember correctly, 7 or 8 of them. Beat that Voltron! That is how I keep all 155 lbs. of hugeness on these bones, baby.

For starters, I had the heirloom tomato salad with feta and watermelon. Delicious and refreshing. My girlfriend had the tuna tartare that came in a baseball-sized portion. For Miami Spice items, they were very generous. When I remarked to the waiter that it was a rather large portion for a tuna tartare, he replied "you should see the regular one, it's even bigger." Wow. That's a lot of raw fish to eat before you eat a big steak. God bless America.

For my main course, I had the braised veal cheeks. Sounds cute for some reason. They were incredible. Our waiter said they were cooked for 6 hours or something like that. Maybe it was more than that. I think it was more. It was more. Renee had skirt steak, and that was delicious, too. The accompaniments were wonderful so that a combined forkful was packed with big flavors. Hers had bacon and spinach and mine had polenta and roasted tomatoes. I even got to eat like half of hers, so by dessert time I was already stuffed.

So what did I do? I ordered doughnuts, of course. I like that they spell them that way on the menu rather than "donuts." Probably comes from a similar psychological place as my disdain for mispronunciation (boarding school). They were awesome, but I was unable to finish them. That's a good sign for a Miami Spice dinner. I was totally stuffed. I can't really stress enough how stuffed I was. Stuffed. I don't think I even had any of Renee's dessert. Hmm, I don't seem to remember. This is why I have to write the review the night of or the next day, lest I forget things like that.

A couple of things to point out. The bathrooms are outside the restaurant and down the hall. I suppose that's not unusual in a hotel, but I still don't like it. I'm fussy! The decor is not very fancy considering the prices. I will say again that we had a great waiter. We were both stuffed after our meals. Not sure if I mentioned that. And there is free valet parking (I think only during Miami Spice)! I really appreciated that. Over all a great deal. What would have cost well over $200 was about $155. That's not exactly a cheap night out, but it's pretty darn good considering the experience.

You'd better hurry if you want to try it 'cause Miami Spice ends on 9/30! Here's Gotham Steak's Miami Spice menu.

Monday, August 31, 2009

eat it - cheesme, 1200 washington ave (side entrance), miami beach, fl (786)276-6146

here i was, planning to do this whole review in lower case letters as an homage to cheesme's name, and lo and behold, upon retrieving the business card from my wallet, i see that the sign is written in ALL CAPS! I CAN'T STAND THE THOUGHT OF WRITING THE REVIEW LIKE THIS. so, why was i under the impression that the name was written in lower case letters? maybe because that is how they wrote it on the facebook fan page. come to think of it, "facebook" is written that way, too. the words look friendlier like that, for some reason. eat it, miami. EAT IT, MIAMI. see, it makes a difference. it looks like i'm yelling at you in the latter version.

Enough of that silliness. So, some friends of some friends opened "cheesme grilled cheese and fry bar," which to me is enough distance that I felt I could check the place out and give it a fair review. I'm not a real journalist, but I think there's a certain amount of objectivity that is expected from people when they read a stupid blog like this.

I must admit that I was skeptical of the concept for the restaurant. Fancy grilled cheese? Uh, people will pay a lot for that? That's the kind of meal you make when you're broke and all you have in the fridge is some slices of yellow American cheese. It's somewhat similar to The Cereal Bowl, in that respect: paying a premium for a normally budget food product.

Ah, but I was forgetting the X Factor, or S-E-X Factor, if you will. Chicks universally love the idea of a grilled cheese restaurant! Therefore, men will want to go, too. That's the idea behind ladies nights at bars. Same thing. Except, instead of booze that makes women fat, it's fried meat and cheese sandwiches.

I am told the dessert menu will include doughnuts. Great. At least women work out here, rather than covering the extra stuff up with sweaters and corduroy like they do in Boston. They don't even shave their legs during the winter up there. Gross. My posts seem to have taken sort of a misogynistic turn lately...

As usual, it's taken me forever to get around to actually reviewing this restaurant. South Florida Daily Blog will no doubt take exception to this. I contend that my humorous anecdotes and hilarious digressions are what keep my readers coming back by the tens! My readership is vast. I had a visit from Malta recently. That's, like, totally far and stuff.

So, around 930 on Saturday, a few friends and I found the entrance around the back of some crappy club on the corner of 12th and Washington on South Beach. I don't know what the club is called, but it has like an A and a V or something stylized like that on the glass. Never been inside and I don't know anyone who's gone there or talked about it, but I'm 30, so I probably don't know what's cool anymore anyway.

The entrance is a set of concrete stairs to a side door that appears to be the old emergency exit from the kitchen of the attached club (which was probably a mediocre Italian restaurant at some point). I have to tell you that, in August, it feels like you're hanging out in a kitchen when you get there. I'd advise you to dress in linen pants and tank tops, maybe. Ladies, the skimpier the outfit, the better. For your own good, don't do anything stupid like wearing leggings. Those have to be out of style by now, don't they? And I hear it gets really, really warm when club and restaurant people get off work in the wee hours and fill the place up.

A funny story that my spies told me is that on a recent evening, when cheesme was packed with that industry crowd, a rather homely, single man (the type who should make you nervous at your place of work or yoga studio) wandered in, blabbing about how he was the son of one of the founders of Five Guys. He proceeded to claim that cheesme's creators had ripped off the concept and menu from Five Guys, then left and returned with two grocery bags full of burgers to serve cheesme's customers some "real food." I think this is a case where violence might actually be the answer. The man clearly has a small, you know, penis and serious self-confidence issues. I hope he doesn't read this.

I'm not really sure what cheesme and Five Guys have in common, other than the fact that they are both places where people go and pay to eat food that restaurant employees have prepared for them. I don't know how long Five Guys has been around, but maybe they invented that concept. And what menu items do they have other than burgers and fries? Don't get me wrong. I like Five Guys. A lot. I ate at the one in Jupiter on Saturday afternoon. It was the very thing I ate prior to my meal at cheesme. How ironic [note: I only use "ironic" incorrectly, since that's what everyone else does].

At cheesme, they have every kind of cheese you could imagine putting in a grilled cheese sandwich (and some you wouldn't, like you know, fancy French ones). They also have lots of different types of bread. I ordered the "Shorty," which is braised short ribs with blue cheese and roasted red peppers on pumpernickel bread. Mmm! You can either choose a menu sandwich or select a meat, a cheese and a bread. A typical sandwich costs between 12 and 14 bucks.

My buddy Larry made his own creation which was a kobe burger with honey mustard and I-forget-what-cheese on a croissant. We had to take him for angioplasty immediately afterward, but he enjoyed eating it.

The sandwiches have so much flavor, that it's funny to watch people take the first bite and see (and hear) their reactions. I think that, for people who really love eating and preparing food, one of the main reasons they do it is to see others' enjoyment.

Upon entering the space, I had turned to my friend Dre and said "sweet, this is like hanging out in the kitchen of a restaurant," to which he replied "that's exactly what it is. We're in a restaurant kitchen." Oh, right. Got it.

Randy and Rush, the guys in that kitchen and whose names suggest they might be twins, are more like bartenders than cooks that are hidden in the nether regions of a long, skinny chunk of South Florida real estate. It turns out that Randy likes to call them "foodtenders." The whole thing is really quite clever. Even the name "cheesme" is a play on words. "Chisme" is a Spanish word that can mean "gimmick" or "gossip."

I wish them luck because I think this could really be something.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Eat It - Burger & Beer Joint, 1766 Bay Rd., Miami Beach, FL (305)672-3287

So, I have a few things to nitpick before I go into reviewing the dining experience at this new restaurant near the Jetsons Publix (in the former, short-lived Uzo's building) and Purdy Lounge.

First of all, the matchbooks, though I love the fact that they have them, erroneously indicate the restaurant's address as 1766 Bay Rd., South Beach, FL. This (A) is where South Beach, FL is -

That's about as close to Miami Beach as Havana. They, of course, mean the neighborhood of South Beach in Miami Beach, but you shouldn't write your address like that unless you want your mail sent to Vero Beach. We all know you're trying to be all cool so the tourists know you're on South Beach. I think most people who live here have had friends say "oh, cool, you live in Miami Beach. Is that anywhere near South Beach?"

The other insignificant thing about which I choose to make a big deal is that the phone number is written "305.672.EATS." All that does is make it harder to dial the number. It won't help people remember it. Everyone can remember every one of their friends' home numbers from 1st grade but they don' t know their girlfriends' phone numbers today. And all the people with Blackberries are cursing you since they have to say in their heads "ok, ABC is 2, DEF is 3, 3!..."

The last complaint, and it's more significant, is that if you order a regular burger, the waiters default to the more expensive "kobe" burgers. That is tacky and unethical. It happened to me and to a friend of mine who was sitting at another table and who was served by another waiter. This suggests it comes from the top. That leaves a sour taste in my mouth, even though other than that, the service was excellent and the food, delicious. But hey, that's why you read whiny online restaurant reviews.

Let's stay on this automatic beef upgrade for one more paragraph. If there is a regular burger as the first option and a more expensive "kobe" burger (which of course is not actual kobe beef from Japan but rather high quality, fatty beef), and you order a burger, then which would you expect to receive? I can't see a scenario where I would expect the kobe burger. I was surprised when it arrived, since that's not what I had ordered. I did like the flair of the Japanese stamped into the bun, but I was still annoyed. Tacky.

The prices are reasonable, even when you are charged for the more expensive burger than the one you intended to order. You can have a pretty good meal and some beers for about 20 or 25 bucks. Really, the burger was delicious. I was forced to embarrass myself during my first bite and say "that is a tasty burger!" à la Jules from Pulp Fiction. I couldn't help it.

A nice surprise came after checking out the bathrooms. That sounds a little funny. Hold on. The men's room is very nice and clean, but the mirror is awkwardly placed over the urinals instead of the sinks, so if you want to check your teeth and hair after washing your hands, you have to walk over to where dudes might very well be peeing. Could have been better designed. The nice part is that, upon exiting the bathroom, I heard music coming from down the hall, where an attached bar is located. Pretty sweet. You don't even have to go outside to hit the next stop of the evening where you can wash down that kobe beef burger with another beer. Did that wrap things up ok? I know you're sort of supposed to do that when you're writing.

*Wait, wait! I almost missed an opportunity to criticize the restaurant that everyone (worth a damn) loves to hate! Barton G, of course. I could see Barton G doing something similar to the "kobe switcheroo." They would probably look at you in disgust after you ordered the plain old burger and say "you mean the kobe burger, right?" But they'd be called "Kobe Samurai Sliders" and they would arrive skewered on a real samurai sword. Then when you asked the waiter how to eat the burgers without cutting off your fingers, he would say "you've obviously never trained with Hattori Hanzo in Japan," and then spit in your cocktail and say "that's for free." Then he'd add an 18% gratuity for bothering him while he's trying to, uh, serve food to people at a restaurant. He's got clubbing to do, people!

Man, that felt good. I think this post is a lot better now that I added the part about Barton G. Which I hate.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Eat It - Primanti Brothers, 901 N. Ft. Lauderdale Beach Blvd, Ft. Lauderale, FL (954)565-0605

Open 24 hours, 7 days a week. That's why we're still the greatest country in the world.

Primanti makes a sandwich that was originally made for truckers in Pittsburgh (a.k.a. Sixburgh. They call it that 'cause they've won six Super Bowls. How clever! I'm just bitter because my favorite team's name stands for "Boy I Love Losing Super[b]owls!"). It's got cole slaw and french fries in it; you choose the meat and the cheese. It's not, like, the most amazing thing in the world, but it's unique and you don't need any condiments to eat it. It's got enough flavor and sauce from the meat and slaw. I think it's like the burger at Le Tub in that you just have to try it if you really love food. Have I written up Le Tub? Maybe I haven't. I think I went there before I started this blog and it doesn't always occur to me to review a restaurant if I'm not visiting for the first time.

Anyway, I've heard about the Primanti sandwich for years, and since the only TV I watch is on from 11pm to 1am, and I really love food, I watch a lot of Food Network. I don't advise this for everyone, though, since it makes you hungry all the time. I am blessed with a ridiculous metabolism so I can eat a large pizza with tons of toppings in one sitting and still look like I'm a gay guy who's fasting. That might be offensive. I'm not sure. Sorry if it is.

Food Network has been showing a special on sandwiches around the country and upon watching the segment on Primanti Brothers, I learned that they had 2 locations in Florida. Well, to my delight, they're both in Ft. Lauderdale. There's a newer one in Wilton Manors, but I wanted to go to the one that looks out at the ocean. I don't think you can get tired of looking at the ocean. I don't. You probably should live somewhere else if you don't like the ocean. I must admit that every time I go to Ft. Lauderdale's beach, I'm reminded how much I prefer that city's policy of not allowing buildings on the beach side of the street. The view is basically the same for the condo dwellers when they're on the opposite side of the street while everyone else gets an unencumbered view and access to the beach. It's better. Is unencumbered the right word there? Hmm, not sure but I don't feel like changing it.

So, Primanti only accepts cash and travelers' checks. Excuse me, cheques. Make sure you have cash so you don't have to pay one of those ATM fees. Those are like a mini version of getting towed. You just feel like someone is screwing you and there's nothing you can do about it. Prices are very good, so you don't have to have much.

Sandwiches cost like 6 bucks. When we arrived, the pizza smelled so good that I decided to have a slice of cheese to start. Solid. I spent about 13 bucks for the sandwich, pizza and a bottle of Coca Cola Classic. That was also quite good.

Dammit, now I'm really hungry and want to go back and have another.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Eat It - Gold Street Caffe, 218 Gold Ave SW, Albuquerque, NM (505) 765-1633

So, I know this is supposed to be a Miami food blog, but I think most of the people who read this are pretty mobile, certainly upwardly so, yuck yuck. You might not get that if you're one of those people who considers yuppie to mean "young urban professional." I prefer "young upwardly-mobile professional."

I'll defend my point. Yuppies don't need to live in urban areas. They can live anywhere, as long as they like American Apparel t-shirts, platinum credit cards, foreign cars, weird sports like squash and ultimate, cough, frisbie (real yuppies know that Frisbie is a brand that makes really crappy flying disks and that the name of the game is simply "ultimate"). The internet makes one's location practically irrelevant. This is sounding too much like "Stuff White People Like."

Anyway, if you go to Albuquerque, make sure that your girlfriend is a golf pro so that you can stay at the Hyatt downtown and get a sweet discount. Then, when you ask the bell hop for a good place to eat lunch, he'll tell you to go to the Gold Street Caffe on, uh, Gold Ave. Hmm, whatever.

Order the Albuquerque Turkey (cough cough, predictably named) sandwich. It's delicious. Ingredients -

House Roasted Turkey Breast Sliced Thin with Fresh Avocado, Green Chile, Provolone and
Roasted Red Pepper Aioli ($9.95)

The other thing we got was the New World Quesadilla, also very tasty, and an interesting take on a classic -

Grilled Chicken Breast, Green Apple, Red Chile Pecans, Cheddar Jack Cheese and Gorgonzola
Tucked in a Giant Flour Tortilla. Served with Black Beans and Salsa Fresca ($11.45)

Albuquerque seems to be populated by a few different groups. Mexicans who just got here, Natives who have been in the Southwest part of this country since before Columbus got here, Spanish descendants who don't speak Spanish, really fat people who gamble a lot at Sandia Casino, cheeseballs who drive Inifitini G coupes (sorry to my friends who drive or have driven them, but they are a little cheesy, but great value!), and guys who studied computer science and wear dark rimmed glasses and have a couple of tattoos and definitely voted for Obama. Basically they look like members of Fall Out Boy.

The last group is the kind you'll find at Gold Street. The chicks they take with them do not wear makeup. They also don't like being called chicks, I bet. Anyway, the food is great. The service is kind of, meh, but the atmosphere is lovely. Kind of like a Cambridge, MA lunch spot. People in Albuquerque are, in general, some of the nicest I have encountered.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Why I’m Boycotting Waxy O’Connor’s and Hope You Will, Too

Karma, karma, karma. A friend of mine was recently hanging out at Waxy's and had a pool cue thrown at him for standing near the pool table. The bouncer did nothing. The air conditioning was out on Saturday. My buddy Jose mentioned how he was recently driving by and saw several tow trucks removing cars from the lot behind Waxy's while an employee looked on from the rear entrance. This reminded me to post what I wrote over a month ago about an unpleasant experience I had at that very bar. If you have some time, please do read -

"Why I'm Boycotting Waxy O'Connor's and Hope You Will, Too"

June 4, 2009

Miami Beach, FL - Last night after work I drove down to my second favorite Miami Beach watering hole (Ted's Hideaway is #1), Waxy O’Connor’s (commonly known as Waxy’s), to meet my pal Jose and celebrate his 26th birthday. I arrived to find the parking lot unusually empty, but figured maybe it was a bit early to be there since it was just about 6:30pm when I did.

I parked next to Jose’s shiny new black Nissan Altima in the section with “Waxy’s” printed on the concrete wheel stops. I noticed there was no parking attendant and, as I approached the rear entrance, saw that there was a sign that said “ATTENTION WAXY’S CUSTOMERS – NO PARKING IS ALLOWED AFTER 6:30 WITHOUT PARKING TICKET…” blah blah blah, something about towing, etc. I hustled in to find Jose and find out what the deal was with parking, of course. I’m not a moron. I went to Tufts. You might not have heard of it if you’re stupid and from South Florida, in which case you will need a dictionary to read this article.

I don’t mean to imply that stupidity and South Florida nativity go hand-in-hand, necessarily. There are just more stupid people here than in other places I’ve lived. It’s a fact [note: this may or may not be a fact but it’s certainly supported by vast anecdotal evidence]. I worry that I may be becoming one of those stupid people and therefore should not be held responsible for the actions I am about to describe.

Upon finding Jose, he ushered me to the bar where an employee of Waxy’s grabbed a piece of paper that said “Waxy O’Connors PARKING PERMIT…” and had several official looking, color stamps with the day’s date. It said some other stuff about not parking after 6:30 but I didn’t think it mattered since said employee told me to put it in my car and that I would be fine. “Oh great,” I thought to myself. I’ll just head out and put that in my dashboard and be all set. Jose said he had asked specifically about the “6:30” thing and this same guy told him it was all set and he just needed that paper and he’d be fine. As I mentioned, Jose has a new car about which he is concerned, so he made sure it was fine to park there.

Was this unreasonable? Were we being really stupid to believe that an employee of the bar was giving us sound parking advice for the parking lot at the establishment where he worked? It was already 6:30 by this time and still there was no parking lot attendant.

We returned to the bar and had a lovely evening of moderate drinking (I had 3 Guinnesses over 3 hours) and spirited conversation with a bunch of friends, with a nice background of country tunes picked by my buddy Andy . I think he must have put $20 in the jukebox or something because every song I heard last night was picked by him. We also played lots of games of darts. That’s always fun. I had some of Waxy’s delicious shepard’s pie for dinner, a dish that, for some reason, women almost unanimously find disgusting. So disgusting, in fact, that they feel compelled to tell you right to your face how disgusting they think it is, whether you are about to eat it, are in the process of doing so, or have just wiped your mouth after having finished. Women. I mean, am I right? Women? Ha!

Around 9:40 I decided to wrap things up and get my check, so I paid my tab, left a generous tip, and made my goodbyes. I walked out to find our cars gone. I ran inside to get Jose and deliver the news I was certain would ruin his birthday. There was now a parking lot attendant who told us “there was nothing he could do” and that the tow truck guys come by and just tow any cars that don’t have a stub from him. He was quite apologetic.

Rather upset at the prospect of paying who-knows-what to get our cars back from Beach Towing, we went inside to ask why we were towed. Paula, the cute brunette waitress on whom everyone I know has a crush (not I of course, since I have a wonderful, beautiful girlfriend), said that if she had known we were parked there she would have told us not to do so. She had a sad look on her face. She’s a sweetie.

My brother drove Jose and me (not “Jose and I,” you people who try to sound smart and fail miserably) over to the tow lot only to find a line of people more aggrieved than we were. The woman in front of us said she was towed from a handicapped spot she was authorized to be in (that story is a little fishy, I agree). The man behind us once had his car towed and then auctioned off because Beach Towing had “accidentally” written down the wrong license plate number and said they didn’t have his car. The gentleman behind him had been towed from the lot at his own office (happened to my brother once). Sounds about right if you’ve lived here and dealt with either the class acts from Beach or Tremont (owned by the same people, I believe).

The guy behind the necessary bullet-proof glass was actually rather polite. He said that the attendant in the lot called them and told them to tow us and that we must have been parked in the wrong spots. He even suggested taking pictures and contesting the tow charges. Didn’t mean we didn’t have to pay $185 each to get our cars back. Some birthday present for Jose.

We both decided to return to Waxy’s to ask for the manager and explain our plight. I was elated to find an opportunity to quote one of my favorite movie lines, yelling to my brother to prepare people that I was coming and that I was “bringing Hell with me." That’s from Tombstone, in case you’re wondering.

The manager, Alex, a nice fellow, told us “there was nothing he could do” (are we seeing a trend?) and how terrible he felt but that we should return to talk to the owner. He gave us the card of Richard Carmichael and said he’d be around after 9am the next day.

So, today I drove down there to see Mr. Carmichael and explained to him very politely (though he probably thinks I’m a total dick) how I had been towed and that I was a faithful customer who saw all the big boxing matches there and had spent the last two St. Patrick’s Days there (they’ve only been open in Miami for that many). I said that we had come with a group of 11 for a friend’s birthday party. I told him that I thought it was fair to say that it was confusing to be given a piece of paper with stamps on it and told at 6:30pm that it was fine to park in the rear lot and then be towed.

Carmichael read the message on the paper and told me “here, it says here very clearly…”. As I said before, I’m not a moron. I know what it says. I can read English. I said to him “you’re speaking to me like I’m a moron. I know what it says.” I’m frankly tired of writing about it. He simply did not care and said, all together now, “there was nothing he could do” and that the owner of the property had put this in place and it was not his fault.

I was getting sick of hearing that and reminded of another favorite movie, “Man on Fire”, the main character of which I was beginning to feel a lot of kinship towards. He gets tired of hearing everyone tell him “it was just business." Of course there was something he could do. He could pay us back $185 each.

The conversation went on for some time as I pleaded with him for some rectification of my situation. He did not budge and was becoming annoyed with me. I decided to leave, turned and said I would never be back. When I say that, I mean it.

I called Jose and told him what to expect. He went in to see Mr. Carmichael as well, who told him the exact same thing he had told me. Jose demanded he be paid back for the tow charge, but Carmichael refused. The bartender who had screwed us with the parking passes and bad advice was also there. Jose asked him why he had told us it was ok to park and the guy became defensive and said “I’m not a scumbag." Hmm, was there a kickback from the tow company perhaps?

Carmichael then told Jose that if he could produce a receipt he would reimburse him for what he had spent at the bar. Jose had paid in cash and gotten no receipt so he was out of luck. But he called me to see if I had one. Which I did…

We made a little hand-off at 41st Street where I gave him my $51.55 receipt. I said it might not work since I had told the guy I was never coming back and that it was unlikely an Irishman would forget my name. That's pretty funny, I think. When Jose returned to the bar, the owner was gone. The same bartender who had screwed us by giving us the parking passes was there and gave Jose a gift certificate for $50 (“*only good after 7pm” was written on it by hand, which seems spiteful but I don’t know why), with Jose’s name on it, not mine. When Jose asked about me, the bartender said “nope, just you."

Jose doesn’t want to go back there ever again either, so he doesn’t want the gift certificate. He also wanted me to be reimbursed since he felt bad that celebrating his birthday had cost me so much money. The problem is that I don’t want it either. Maybe I’ll sell it.

So, long story long, I guess customer loyalty doesn’t mean anything at Waxy’s, so I say “f*** ‘em." Please support your pal Colin by stopping in as you pass by Waxy’s and tell them why you won’t be patronizing that bar any longer. Unless you think I’m an idiot who’s in the wrong, in which case, feel free to remind me that “there was nothing they could do."

Eat It - David's Cafe II, 1654 Meridian Ave., Miami Beach, FL (305)672-8707

I've eaten at David's many times, but haven't yet given it a full review. I eat at the little walk-up window pretty regularly (every time I go to Buck 15). It's just off Lincoln Rd. I don't think I've ever been inside the one on Collins.

You really can't beat a couple of empanadas, a croqueta or three, and a medianoche at 4am. It's a good way to avoid a hangover, maybe. And even though they had a drive-by shooting there last year, it's usually pretty safe because of all the cops who go there. I wonder if they eat for free. That reminds me of how the Rhode Island state troopers often ate dinner at my boarding school's cafeteria. It was a good policy for the monks who didn't really obey traffic laws so well.

Anyway, some of my Mexican cousins are in town and we met them last night at the main sit-down restaurant (there's a little diner-looking portion on the northerly side of the building). We started with some mojitos. They make good ones there, though the mint was a little brown, which detracted from their enticement.

I ordered churrasco (skirt steak) and it came with the most delicious chimichurri sauce I've ever had. It was really citrusy. I ended up putting some on my rice and beans, it tasted so good. The portion of steak was underwhelming, especially considering the prices, which have gone up and are not accurate on the website, for your information. The website lists the churrasco at $17.95 and it's now around $21. I'm noticing, just as I did at Joe Allen, that menus have weird denominations now. Or did they always? The online menu shows an item that's $14.25. Do they think that diners don't just round up the numbers? I don't know, I guess I round down 14.25 to 14, but I definitely round 17.95 up to 18.

Over all, the menu seemed a little bit more expensive than it should have been, but they probably have to pay Craig Robins exhorbitant rent because of the proximity to Lincoln Rd. Cuban food is simple, and it shouldn't be expensive. The churrasco I was served could probably be bought, wholesale, for 4 or 5 bucks, so to couple that with some rice and beans and charge $21 seems like a rip-off. My aunt and uncle picked up the check, though, so maybe that's why it didn't affect my enjoyment of the meal.

The sides were all good, though David's is a greasy toston purveyor, as are many Cuban restaurants. The bread was unusually good. It was buttery and garlicy egg bread, the same kind used for making medianoches.

When I woke up this morning, I had a hangover of sorts. I realized that all that garlic was still with me and I was incredibly thirsty. I guess that's the price one pays to enjoy Cuban food.

Anyway, I like David's, but when I'm paying I prefer the window.

This post isn't very interesting or funny. I feel terrible about that. I think I'm going to post my Waxy O'Connor boycott now. That's a good read.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Don't Eat It - Anokha, 3324 Virginia St., Coconut Grove, FL 786-552-1030

Oh man, I feel bad saying this, but Anokha is just not very good. I guess if I'm going to be a food critic then I have to be tough on people sometimes, but my heart breaks when I see a business failing and it's hard for me to attack when I haven't been personally insulted.

That is why I love to hate Barton G, a restaurant about which I cannot publicly state my true feelings lest I be slapped with a libel suit (it's "libel" when it's written and "slander" when spoken). As casual as a blog is, you should really be careful about what you write. Anyway, in case you forgot, I hate that place, and the reason is that the staff there went out of its way to make my friends' and my experience there unbearable.

Moving along. Anokha used to be located in a smaller space (though I never ate there) and they've moved off the beaten path in the Grove to a side street. Even though there were probably 6 or 7 tables of people at the restaurant, it seemed empty. It was probably only 1/3 full, I would estimate. There was no hostess and only one waitress who informed us that the wait for main courses would be about 45 minutes. She was harried, understandably, but this made the dining experience less pleasant. One should not feel stressed by the waitstaff when paying for a meal.

They were out of a bunch of stuff, but it wasn't a big deal. We ordered samosas (Indian crab rangoon type appetizers) and some duck egg roll things that didn't taste Indian at all and came with a dipping sauce that did not match the food at all. It was like cocktail sauce with extra ketchup, I think. Wery, wery bad.

Main courses were the unadventurous (though I cannot help but to order them) chicken tikka masala and lamb vindaloo. The chicken was not tikka masala. It was thin chunks (sounds oxymoronic, I know) of chicken with some red sauce. Not creamy and savory like masala. It was dark red. It just wasn't right. The lamb was overly seasoned, in my opinion. The saving grace was the naan. It comes in a bunch of varieties. Raisin and others and it was quite good. The waitress gave us one free, which was a nice gesture considering the wait and lack of certain menu items.

The total, with one glass of wine each, for three was about 120 bucks. That's not bad. The food and atmosphere were just not good and the place seems to be managed poorly, I hate to say it. I wouldn't go back.

I guess I never wrote up a review for Guru on South Beach. Maybe I ate there before I started Eat It, Miami. Anyway, I remember having a wonderful time there and enjoying the food thoroughly. I think I'll go there next time I'm craving Indian and review it then.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Eat It - Joe Allen - 1787 Purdy Ave, Miami Beach, FL 305-531-7007

I was unaware until grabbing the restaurant's business card that there are several locations. Turns out that Joe Allen opened in New York in 1965. I had no idea. There are now Joe Allens in New York, London, Paris and Miami Beach. That's a pretty good excuse for the owner to "have" to visit 4 of the greatest cities in the world. You'll never guess where I found out all this information: the Internet.

I don't know if the guy's still alive. If he started the restaurant in 1965 and was like 30 or 40 then, he's 70 or 80 by now. I hope he's still around. He's probably a nice guy. "Hey Joe! How's the restaurant biz?" I could see myself saying that to him as he rode his bike by me. That Joe. Always a smile on his face. Gotta love him. I now have a mental picture of a skinny grey-haired man with a mustache, wearing a Panama hat and a kerchief around his neck, riding an old fashioned bicycle. Not the one with the really big front wheel and the tiny rear one. I mean like the one that Albert Einstein (Walter Matthau) rides in I.Q. Boy, he sure did look like Einstein in that movie.

The food, you ask? Hold your horses. I'm getting to that.

My girlfriend and I arrived about 45 minutes late for our group's reservation since the other two were operating on Miami time while I was, shockingly, ready when I was supposed to be but waited and waited to be picked up. The host politely told us that they thought we weren't coming and had scratched our name off the list but that we should have a drink at the bar while he prepared a table.

We ordered drinks and decided on the bartender-recommended thin crust Margherita pizza as a little appetizer. Mmmm! It was delish. I want one right now. When our table was ready soon after, they told us to proceed to it and that they would grab our drinks and pizza for us. No need to pay the bill-so-far. I thought that was a nice touch. It's annoying to have to settle up. It disrupts the experience of dining out. Don't you think? Well I do, and it's my blog. You may feel free to write your own or leave a comment below. Moving along...

When our friends arrived, we chatted and were unprepared to order the first couple times our waiter came by so it was understandable that we went unattended for a while when we were finally ready to order. It was too long to wait, really, as I looked around the restaurant for help, but it's forgivable.

I ordered meatloaf with broccoli and mashed potatoes. The sides were great but the meatloaf was awful. It didn't taste like meatloaf and had an almost tuna steak consistency. Weird. My girlfriend got skirt steak and that was good, but I mean, I can do that myself at home.

I think a lot of the good stuff on the menu is seafood, so I can't enjoy that anymore. Oh well. I think if you stick to basics, you'll do ok. The prices are reasonable. The pizza was $11.50. The crappy meatloaf was $18.50. That's weird to add 50 cents. I wonder if that's normal. I'm going to pay attention to that now.

The ambiance is nice. Very relaxing. The waiters are friendly. The food comes out very quickly. I also like being on Purdy Ave. It's quiet in a way you can't find easily on Miami Beach. I'll give it another shot and probably order simple stuff. Maybe the bacon cheeseburger. The desserts sound stupendous. You can check out the menu on the website, but I'll give you a couple of them here -

New Orleans Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce
Peanut Brittle with Vanilla Ice Cream
Rice Krispies Treat with Butterscotch Sauce and Vanilla Ice Cream
Cherry Cobbler with Whipped Cream

Maybe "stupendous" isn't an appropriate word, but my friend Larry and I are committed to using it more often after reading that Silvio Berlusconi (prime minister of Italy) said he had "stupendous boats".

Oh, I just noticed that the menu says "NO SUBSTITUTIONS PLEASE". Yeah, in ALL CAPS. It's like being yelled at on paper. That's obnoxious, but they did make a substitution of broccoli for french fries with the skirt steak, so at least they don't follow the rule. Typical Miami...

Friday, April 3, 2009

Eat It? - Bocca, 1699 NE 123rd Street, North Miami, FL 305-891-4899

My friend Kim just opened up a new Italian restaurant and I'm going to certainly check it out. In the interest of full disclosure, I have recused myself from reviewing the restaurant.

I feel bad enough that I hate Barton G so much with a couple of friends having worked there. It's silly, but I hate Barton G so much that I don't like driving by it. I'm sorry I even brought it up. Oh look, it's a steak served on a surfboard! We call it surf steak. Oh how clever! Never mind that the surfboard takes up half the restaurant and the waiter just told you that your tie doesn't match your shirt and your date needs to go on a diet! God I hate that place.

So, go to Bocca. It's certainly not as annoying as Barton G, which I hate.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Eat It - The Cereal Bowl, 1560 South Dixie Hwy, Miami, FL 305-662-2695

4 bucks for a bowl of cereal? 4 bucks for a peanut butter and jelly? It's good, but the prices just don't make sense. I don't know how you'd pay rent without charging that much for your product, but maybe that means the business idea is flawed. I went once. I guess maybe if I were a spoiled, bratty Miami teenager I would go there a lot, but I probably will only have experienced the Cereal Bowl once. I think it's worth trying, and that's why it gets my "Eat It" designation.