Monday, August 29, 2011

Eat It - El Vato Tequila and Taco Bar, 1010 S Miami Ave Miami, FL 33130 (305) 523-2393

(This raght hea is a Chef BoyarAndy guest post. He's old school. He actually typed this up and then sent it as a telegram, which was translated to Morse Code which was carved into a clay tablet by stylus which then got turned into 1's and 0's by your humble and extremely handsome editor.)

www.elvatobar.com

It’s 8pm on Friday. You’re in Brickell. You’ve braved the crowds at Fado or Brickell
Irish Pub and you’re in the mood for Mexican food. You want homemade guac with
fresh chips. You want tasty tacos. You want real carnitas. You want fresh salsa.
You want a cool atmosphere with the option to sit outside.

Do you want to pay $15 or $50?

Since this is Miami, I’m sure there are plenty of people who want to pay $50. Those
people are too busy ironing their Ed Hardy shirts to read kick-ass blogs like this. [Editor's note: I hope you clicked the link. It's pretty awesome.]

You can get all those things you wanted at either Rosa Mexicana or El Vato, but only
one of them is the best bang for your buck in Brickell right now. [Editor's note: Not to be confused with the best boobs for your buck in Brickell, which would be Blue Martini.]

I do actually enjoy Rosa…there are some specialty items on the menu that you aren’t
going to find at El Vato. I just don’t see the value in a lot of the menu. The guac is
good…but it isn’t $14 good. You can easily spend like 80 bucks for a few margaritas and 2 orders of guac at Rosa before you've even sat down to eat. We only did that when Nevin Shapiro would take us out for dinner.

El Vato considers itself a tequila bar and, given that there are 50 or so options
to choose from, I’d say they are correct. They don’t have Pepe Lopez, though, which , ahem, anyone
who happened to be in Raleigh NC in the fall of 1998 will tell you turns the most sophisticated of bloggers into the hottest of falling down messes. They do have an excellent selection of premium tequilas though, if you’re the sipping type, like this guy, instead of the shooting type, like a guy whose name rhymes with Shmeff Shmoden.

Stop in, have a Modelo, some guac and a couple of tacos. Make sure you wash your
hands…both for proper hygiene, you dirty, dirty blog readers and to admire the
coolest sink in Miami (assuming you’re going in the men’s room…let’s face it, even if
you’re female nobody is going to stop you from going in the men’s room). Walk out
happy that you outsmarted the crowd waiting for a table at Rosa and that you saved
enough money to buy one cocktail at the Viceroy. [Editor's note: way to check out the potties, CBA. Important component of the dining experience. We pick on the Viceroy now? Um, okay!]

Bonus Math Question and Answer:

$20 ÷ $5 Weekday Happy Hour Margaritas

= Excellent Way to Totally Kill Your Productivity the Next Day

Thursday, August 25, 2011

skip it!


Eat It - Oliver's Bistro, 959 West Ave, Miami Beach, FL (305)535-3050

www.oliversmiamibeach.com

(305)535-3050! How great is that number? I'm so jealous. I'm stuck with a crappy, crappy 786 number because I'm a T-Mobile subscriber, and I must assume that powerful Jewish telecom businesspeople are getting retribution against the German company that provides my mobile phone "coverage" for the ills caused them during WWII. I'm using quotation marks because, if you're familiar with...what the? Why am I wasting my time writing about how crappy T-Mobile's coverage is? Everyone knows that already. If I'm standing under a palm tree, odds are I don't have a signal.

But their customer service is gang busters.

So, last week my girlfriend and I were at a launch party at the swank Mondrian Hotel for a new app called Shooger. It's pretty much going to make Groupon look like MySpace. For my younger readers, MySpace is where people used to hang out before Facebook. But after Friendster. Friendster was first. Ahhhh, Friendster, where did you go wrong?

Though it's totally pretentious and annoying and overpriced, I like that Mondrian. I took this pretty awesome photo with my Blackberry from the pool deck.


So after the sweet Shooger launch party, Renee and I decided we should get some grub. We've always wanted to try Oliver's, so in my fatalistic tone that women just love, I said "what if we get hit by a car on the way home or die in our sleep? Then we'll never have eaten at Oliver's and we've always wanted to."

Upon arriving on the block of West Ave. on which Oliver's is located, I noticed an ex-girlfriend dining with a young man and, finding the situation awkward, hustled by without saying hi. I don't know if she saw me. Kathryn, I'm sorry I didn't say hi. Amazing that we haven't run into each other in like 5 years when I usually can't go 3 hours without running into someone I know in Miami. I'm going to blame it on my debilitating immaturity.

After entering Oliver's, we were immediately greeted and shown to a table. It's a good sign when you're not standing around waiting for someone to help you, even at a little place like Oliver's.

To start, I ordered the Escargots in Sizzling Roquefort Garlic Butter (a reasonable $9.95) and Renee got a Caesar salad (the menu item is a dinner salad for $9.95 but you may order a starter portion for $6.95). She remarked that I couldn't eat escargot since I'm allergic to seafood, but I said "snails aren't seafood." But I'm wondering if they have some similar qualities as mollusks that live in the sea. I'm now realizing that I did have a mild reaction. Stupid seafood allergy affects me even when I'm not eating seafood! This is starting to become severely limiting for someone who likes to eat interesting stuff and then write about it. I will say that it makes ordering off the menu a lot easier. In many Florida restaurants I can ignore about half of the listed items. I can't eat anything at Bond St, so you guys are gonna have to hope that one of my junior guest writers wants to try it out.

Well, my Oliver's escargot might be the last time I eat those slimy little guys, so I'm disappointed I didn't enjoy them more. They were good, but not great. They arrived naked, which I found odd, especially since they gave me one of those tiny forks to scoop the snail meat out of the shell. But there was no shell. Just a plate of garlicky, oily snail bodies. They're accompanied by some rather greasy grilled herb bread. I think there's enough oil and stuff on the escargots that plain bread would be a nicer compliment.

Where do the snails even come from in an escargot dish? Do they just find those out on the sidewalk after it's rained? Kidding. As Richard Grieco said in A Night at the Roxbury, "I just don't want to be sued."

http://sfy.ru/?script=night_at_the_roxbury

I was planning to write "See? He did say that." Like Dr. Evil after a flashback. See? He did say "See? I did say that". Woh, I just got a little dizzy reading that. Alas, I could not find video evidence of the A Night at the Roxbury scene, other than on my DVD, of course. So I found a transcript and posted that instead. Internet, you've done it again!

For main courses, Renee had Potato Gnocchi, which must have been a special since it's not on the online menu. I unfortunately don't remember all of the ingredients but it was a playful little dish. Highly recommended. I was unable to refrain from sneaking bites throughout our meal. It was a sort of Primavera dish with light cream sauce and lots of fresh vegetables. At $14.95, it was also quite affordable. I ordered the Chili Lime Cilantro Chicken Breast. I was tempted to order schnitzel, but I wanted mashed potatoes, and the schnitzel's side was potato salad. I suppose I could have asked for them to substitute but I felt like eating healthy and avoided the fried schnitzel and opted for the grilled chicken breast. Great dish. Flavorful and juicy chicken with great mashed potatoes with sauteed corn and some very light cole slaw (so light, in fact, that Oliver's just calls it "cabbage"). My dish was $16.95.

The service? Fantastic. We had a wonderful, friendly, attentive waiter. Oliver's provided some of the best service I have experienced in South Florida. This place might just become a staple and I won't hesitate to recommend it to others, particularly my young adult contemporaries who don't want to pay through the nose every time they want to have a decent meal that isn't a hamburger. Seriously, enough with the new hamburger joints.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Don't Eat It - BF (Best Friends), 4770 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL (786)439-3999

www.bf1880.com

I hate to kick a place while it's down, but it just isn't worth eating at Best Friends. The menu says "Since 1880," but there's no back story or "About" section of the website, which I find dubious. Even if you've been around since 1880 in New England, where stuff still stands that was built in the 1600s, though not a huuuge deal, it still merits an explanation.

For someone to put 1880 on a menu in Miami, when people were duking it out with Tequesta Indians (I assume), chopping down mangroves with machetes, and clearing land to build our precious, precious golf courses, and not to explain the history seems "wicked bizzah." That's a little New England speak. Maybe I'm on a kick since Keegan Bradley just won the PGA Championship and he's an outspoken New Englander.

Best Friends occupies the former Luna Cafe space on Biscayne, just outside the Design District. It's one of those cursed spaces, I think. Luna was never very busy, and I suspect that the rent is too damn high. The surrounding neighborhood is pretty crappy. Have you been to the nearby Publix? It's my least favorite in all of Miami. I fear somewhat for my safety when I go there. That can't be good for business. Not for Publix and not for whatever restaurateur has the cojones to open up in that stretch of Biscayne.

The food is just plain old wood oven pizza and decent Italian salads. It's got no gimmick whatsoever, and I think that's the name of the game in today's restaurant landscape. Even if your gimmick is that you're old fashioned and timeless. This place is blah. The menus look like they were printed at Kinko's and the decor is nice I assume only because the Luna Cafe, Carpaccio, Bella Luna guys made it so. I'd be interested to see what the original Best Friends in South Miami is like. I don't plan to make a trip to see in person, though.

This post made me sad.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Hubba Grubba

GrubHub is a brand new service that makes ordering food easy. It's been operating for a while in other markets like San Francisco and Seattle where people all ride bicycles and look like this.

Well, now that it's been perfected on those ugly people in the rest of the country, it's finally ready for the sexiest market in the U.S. It just launched, so the numbers will grow and grow until it's like the Facebook of food ordering website thingies.

GrubHub is offering users $10 off their first online order by visiting http://www.grubhub.com/MiamiSneakPeek. 

Happy Grubbing!

Who Wants Mustard?

I hope this post cuts the mustard. That's an odd expression, isn't it? Well, thanks to "the Internet," we don't have to wonder about it. From Wiktionary, whatever the hell that is -

Etymology

  • Probably from likening the pungency of the spice mustard as a superlative or as something that adds zest to a situation.
  • Possibly derived from the idiom 'to pass muster', an expression for assembling military troops for inspection.

[edit] Verb

to cut the mustard (third-person singular simple present cuts the mustard, present participle cutting the mustard, simple past and past participle cut the mustard)
  1. (idiomatic) To suffice; to be good or effective enough.
    Give me the bigger hammer. This little one just doesn't cut the mustard.

Point is, it's National Mustard Day on Saturday! Yaaaay! Oh joy of joys. Good thing you checked out Eat It, Miami or you might have missed out on all of the great Mustard Day festivities going on, well, everywhere!

People are gonna be putting mustard on crazy things like mint chocolate chip ice cream and filet mignon. They're gonna put it inside their shoes, just to squish around in it.

Anyone you see wearing yellow on Saturday - total Mustardaholic! You'd better go up to them and give them the National Mustard Day salute! You hold your hand up like you'd salute in the military, only you stick out your tongue and go PPPPPFFFFFFFFFFSSSSSSSSSSSSLLLLLTTTTTTTT, like the sound it makes when you pour mustard out of a plastic squeeze bottle. It's most festive when you do the mustard salute right up close to the other person's face.

In case you forgot what your favorite brand of mustard is, it's National Deli Mustard. If you've never heard of it, you're just not as cool as I thought you were. You should probably move to cheesy Broward County and eat French's while you pump your fist in your Affliction t-shirt.

Wanna be reminded what a snazzy National Deli Mustard display will look like at your local grocery store?
 "NO COLIN, I WANT TO SEE AN EXTREME CLOSE-UP OF THIS MUSTARD!"
OK, you asked for it -
So, Broward County-dwelling, Affliction t-shirt wearer, I think I've convinced you to put National Deli Mustard on your mint chocolate chip ice cream on National Mustard Day, but if you're a wittle bit scared, why don't you go with something a little more conventional. Like this enormous hot dog with all of the fixin's.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Buy It, Miami



www.thejills.com

Why don't you want to buy my parents' old condo in Surfside? I ask very little of you, my dear readers, except for the occasional poetry contest entry or poll question. As you can see, "fancy ketchup" is barely edging out "regular ketchup." I definitely did not predict that. Especially not in Miami. You'd think people who drive $300,000 cars and get bottle service every night would prefer fancy ketchup to regular ketchup. Maybe the numbers are just skewed by my vast, international readership. I bet a lot people in like Southeast Asia and Subsaharan Africa just want some ketchup. They don't care if it's fancy or whatever. And maybe a hot shower. That'd be nice.

So, when you get a chance, please put in an offer on the above oceanfront penthouse. You gotta live somewhere, right?