Tuesday, April 7, 2009

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

www.joeallenrestaurant.com

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

www.boccamiami.com

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.