Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Steroid Cowboys

This looks fantastic. Also, someone start saving up for the dialysis machines that the Rock and Marky Mark will need in about 5 years.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Eat It - Dave & Buster's, 3000 Oakwood Blvd, Hollywood , FL (954)923-5505

I don't go to Dave & Buster's very often, do you? I guess it's because when you live in Miami you usually go out to whatever cluster fudge is going on in town at the moment; most recently the douchefest that is Art Basel. When, on the rare occasion that there isn't some traffic nightmare inducing, politician pocket liner going on, you probably just meet up with friends for dinner and then head somewhere afterward for drinks. Maybe to a dive bar, like I prefer, or perhaps it's an overpriced nightclub in which conversing with one's friends is impossible because the music's so loud. There's a time and a place for both. I'd just say that if you want to foster meaningful relationships with the people you socialize with, you should probably be able to have a conversation with them when you're out. Otherwise, they're just some faces that you know and you haven't exactly forged a bond with a person on whom you can really depend. If you're some single 25 year-old, that might be what you're going for these days, but I'm old and engaged and my friends are all married and having kids, so that's where I'm coming from.

I wondered when I was invited to check out the newly remodeled Dave & Buster's and its ramped up sports bar concept, if the place would be lousy with kids, but I found the atmosphere to be quite comfortable. It's a lot better than Boomers, I'll tell you that much. It's not at all chaotic and the decor was always better than a Boomers, but the areas they've remodeled are pretty upscale. Check out the sports bar area in which my friends and I dined and watched the Heat trounce the Wizards. Pretty snazzy -

So the sports bar section is pretty adult, and even the areas where there are a lot of kids hanging out are more festive than anything else. There were several birthday parties going on for adults and kids alike, but it wasn't overwhelming or particularly noisy.

The food was good. Nothing fancy, but perfectly adequate. We shared an appetizer called 5:15. It comes with 5 pieces of a bunch of different stuff like quesadillas, chicken wings, fried shrimp. I ate the mini buffalo chicken sandwiches and others had seafood and chicken. We had a few cocktails among us, shared a delicious piece of chocolate cake for dessert and had a coffee. All in it was less than 35 bucks each. Can't do much better than that for a sit-down meal that includes drinks. 

God forbid you should really have to go to the bathroom when you're in the sports bar, though, because the place is so freaking huge that it takes a few minutes to walk all the way to the bathrooms, located in the middle of the gigantic space. I can only imagine what kind of overhead there is at a business as massive as a Dave & Buster's. According to the extremely conscientious senior manager, Michael, there are about 200 people who work at the location alone. Gotta be great systems in place to get that many people working cheerily in tandem. And the employees really do have good attitudes there.

The massive gaming area is your typical amusement area with tons and tons of video games of all sorts. There are a few pieces that are getting a little worn out (and they should replace or remove, like the Big Game Hunter whose rifles don't work!), but you'll find plenty to do, whether you want to shoot at or race something. It's funny, even with all of the newer games that have been invented, my friends and I had the most fun playing old fashioned classics like Skee-ball, mini hoops, and that game where you put coins in the slot and try to shoot them at the ever-growing, teetering piles of coins, in the hopes of amassing more and more tickets so you can buy some junk you don't need at a price much higher than it would have been to just buy in the first place. But it's so much more fun that way for some reason.

There were some new ones we liked a lot, though, including the trivia game in which you try to be the fastest competitor to answer a series of 5 trivia questions (168 tickets if you're the fastest and get all five right!) and the giant Connect Four game seen here -

You can't beat the convenience and value of this place. You drive up, park easily, eat and hang out all night for $60 per person? Please tell me somewhere else that I can get that kind of a deal. I can't think of a comparable night out. You go to a Heat game and you spend that on parking and a snack, plus the additional cost of the tickets. You can go to a few places in town where you might spend only $60 on your meal, but there's no way you're getting the 5 hours of entertainment that we got out of our Saturday night at Dave & Buster's. I highly recommend it as an affordable family activity or night out with friends. Got kids? Take 'em. No kids? The ones who are there won't bother you.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Eat It – Pride and Joy BBQ, 2800 N Miami Ave, Miami, FL

by Chef BoyarAndy

[Editors Note: Please click on the link and visit the website so you can jam to Stevie Ray Vaughn's magnum opus and the namesake of the restaurant. Woo, I'm bobbing my head to it right now.]

It appears that I have a very particular set of skills. Skills I have acquired over a very long career of eating BBQ. Skills that can make me a nightmare or a savior for restaurants like you.

Consider this:

After my review of Hogzilla’s over-charging my group, they shut down.

After my review of Yardbird their business picked up so much they are opening a new location in NYC. I’m hoping taking credit for their well deserved success will earn me a lifetime supply of fried chicken and bourbon…a man can dream, right?

I was pleasantly surprised to see that Myron Mixon is the man behind Pride and Joy. If you are a fan of random cooking shows late at night you have probably seen him on BBQ Pitmasters that comes on Destination America.

We share similar ideals on good ‘cue…he’s a whole hog man that later worked to include brisket, ribs, chicken etc.  Most North Carolinians like me will tell you that BBQ (always a noun, never a verb) starts and ends with whole hog.  There are few things in life that are better than eating ‘que that just smoked for 14 hours with perfectly crisp pieces of pork skin.

Having only been once so far with our fearless leader Colin, the soon-to-be Mrs. Colin, and our buddy Greg that gave up on big city Miami life to move back to Oklahoma to marry his fiancée that is too pretty and too smart for him I don’t have a feeling for the full menu yet but what we had was quite tasty.

The fried pickles (which I’m told are pickled in-house) were excellent.  The burnt ends (brisket tips that are removed after smoking and simmered in a sauce for another couple of hours) weren’t traditional Kansas City style which would have had them in a thick smoky barbeque sauce but were still quite good in their thinner, stock-like sauce.  The pulled pork was as expected…perfectly cooked, slightly smoky and in ample portion.

There are a few menu items that seem pretty gimmicky to me that my fellow diners tried and weren’t impressed with…the pulled pork eggrolls and baby back mac being the two main offenders.  Overall we were all very pleased with the food though…the beer selection was excellent as well.

I think we were all a little surprised at how big the place is…they have a huge outdoor patio with a covered and uncovered section.  With our perfect weather this time of year I’d encourage you to sit outside…you are eating ‘cue by the way so it is fitting.

If you are inside take note of a couple of pretty cool accoutrements (I like saying that word in a thick French accent):  The truck that was turned into a bar, the giant bulls head that has shotguns for horns, and the wall made of beer cans.  This really is my kind of joint.

Give this place a shot…the servers are friendly, the food was tasty and the prices are fair.  Miami needs more places like Pride and Joy.

Pride & Joy BBQ on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Miami Restaurant Graveyard

In doing some cleaning up around the house I went through my match collection to find these relics of old Miami food-dom -  

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Editorializing the South Florida Daily Blog

I was pretty annoyed to see Rick at SFDB refer to my recent blog entry on Johnny Rockets thusly - 

IEat It, Miami suggests you check out the grill man with the "black sounding" name at Johnny Rockets next time you're at Aventura.
Dude is so fast and good at the burger preparation that you are mesmerized by him. I've always gotten a kick out of when people have such good training, practice, and muscle memory, that their craft is as second nature as walking and breathing, and this guy is in that category.

Reading the entire passage shows the context in which I made the comment; a funny one in my opinion. I try to keep it light around here. Rick's implication, I assume, is that I'm a racist because I said "black sounding," and he certainly intends his readers to gather something from the phrase since it's highlighted with quotation marks and plucked from my text. Please read the review and let me know what you think, by all means.

Rick holds himself out as a blog aggregator and reviewer, but he clearly has an axe to grind, one of the many being that he despises South Florida and its residents, mentioning daily the vapidity of our culture, the stupidity of our populace, the incompetence of our police, and the corruption of our civic leaders. You'll have to look pretty hard to find anything positive other than a silly picture once in a while. I wish he'd move because he's clearly not happy and brings a dark cloud over our community. He belongs in Seattle or Boston.

This is how Rick boiled down a very intelligently written essay on the Daily Beast today, while including a photo of its author, you know, just in case you see her in public sometime, I assume, in case you want to say something nasty like Rick would probably do - 
             I'd also like us to encourage people to gang rush shooters, rather than following their instincts to hide; if we drilled it into young people that the correct thing to do is for everyone to instantly run at the guy with the gun, these sorts of mass shootings would be less deadly, because even a guy with a very powerful weapon can be brought down by 8-12 unarmed bodies piling on him at once. Would it work? Would people do it? I have no idea; all I can say is that both these things would be more effective than banning rifles with pistol grips.

-Megan McArdle [above], The Daily Beast

         I can just see the teacher instructing her students: "Kids, when the madman with the assault

        rife comes through the door, I want the class to run toward him. Susie and Billy, you lead."


        Most conservatives apparently would rather sacrifice America's children than ever consider
       doing anything about the availability of guns in this country.
       Truly amazing.

Right, that's what conservatives want, Rick. They want kids to die at the hands of mad gunmen. 

Here is the comment I left after reading that and then clicking through to read the article in its entirety, since I have learned that Rick's intense political leanings highly influence the tone of his site.

Rick, I think it's pretty irresponsible of you to boil down a 4500 word essay into one paragraph taken out of context in an attempt to demonize someone you want to characterize as a "conservative," since you clearly despise people who identify themselves as such. Did you read the entire article? It's pretty long and I know you skim a lot of stuff, but when you post something like this, it has an effect on that person's reputation, since people implicitly trust you to share the news that you've ostensibly reviewed. You're trying to pigeon hole this woman when her response was an extremely well thought out and nuanced argument leading to her conclusion. It'd be more informative if you'd included at least the paragraph before and after, or at the minimum, the paragraph in its entirety. Kind of like how you took "black sounding" out of context from my recent post about Johnny Rockets, I assume to make me sound like a racist. I'm beginning to think you're a real dick.

"It would certainly be more comfortable for me to endorse doing something symbolic--bring back the 'assault weapons ban'--in order to signal that I care.  But I would rather do nothing than do something stupid because it makes us feel better.  We shouldn't have laws on the books unless we think there's a good chance they'll work: they add regulatory complexity and sap law-enforcement resources from more needed tasks.  This is not because I don't care about dead children; my heart, like yours, broke about a thousand times this weekend.  But they will not breathe again because we pass a law.  A law would make us feel better, because it would make us feel as if we'd "done something", as if we'd made it less likely that more children would die.  But I think that would be false security. And false security is more dangerous than none.  

My guess is that we're going to get a law anyway, and my hope is that it will consist of small measures that might have some tiny actual effect, like restrictions on magazine capacity.  I'd also like us to encourage people to gang rush shooters, rather than following their instincts to hide; if we drilled it into young people that the correct thing to do is for everyone to instantly run at the guy with the gun, these sorts of mass shootings would be less deadly, because even a guy with a very powerful weapon can be brought down by 8-12 unarmed bodies piling on him at once.  Would it work?  Would people do it?  I have no idea; all I can say is that both these things would be more effective than banning rifles with pistol grips.  

But I doubt we're going to tell people to gang rush mass shooters, because that would involve admitting that there is no mental health service or "reasonable gun control" which is going to prevent all of these attacks.  Which is to say, admitting that we have no box big enough to completely contain evil."   

I encourage you, if you have some time, to read Megan McArdle's Daily Beast article here, and to draw your own conclusions. Rick thinks the woman wants children to get shot by lunatics and wants you to think that that's how "most conservatives" feel. Maybe there's a different side to it than that, you think? My only issue is that there are about 20 typos in the thing. I mean, do people have editors anymore? They just post the stuff? Kind of unprofessional, methinks.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Eat It - Johnny Rockets, Aventura Mall, Aventura, FL

I don't know if the guy is well known or anything, but the grill man at the Johnny Rockets at Aventura Mall is a site to behold. His name is Roland maybe? Something that starts with an "R" and kind of black sounding like that. Reginald? Someone help me out here.

Dude is so fast and good at the burger preparation that you are mesmerized by him. I've always gotten a kick out of when people have such good training, practice, and muscle memory, that their craft is as second nature as walking and breathing, and this guy is in that category.

I did some Christmas shopping on Sunday and grabbed an afternoon snack at the counter: Original with cheddar cheese and a chocolate shake. Anyone who could see him was transfixed by a man who was quite obviously in the zone. It reminds me of a segment in a movie I watched recently on Netflix called "Happy." In it, they interview people from all walks of life, including an Indian peasant who pulls a rickshaw and lives in a shack but it as happy as can be. Probably a lot happier than your average corporate lawyer in Manhattan, I'd wager. They also show a grill man in the U.S. who loves his job. This guy struck me as that kind. He doesn't think his life sucks just because he can't buy the Maserati that's parked in the middle of the mall. He's getting satisfaction from a job well done, and I respect that tremendously. That goes for most of the staff at Johnny Rockets, come to think of it.

If you find yourself at Aventura with a hamburger hankering, pull up a stool at the counter of Johnny Rockets on the third floor and catch the show. Plus, it's a great value. 16 bucks all in for burger, shake and generous tip.

The old blog sure has taken a philosophical turn as of late, but hey, it's good for you to think once in a while. Now you can go back to the random stuff that has nothing to do with anything but distracting you from real life.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Eat It - The Alibi, 218 Española Way, Miami Beach, FL (305)674-3448

There's a dilemma one experiences while reviewing so-called "hidden gems" and "best kept secrets." The problem is that one wants these places to thrive but not get too popular and thus become inaccessible, but that's not really up to us to decide as consumers. We don't want this place to be so well kept a secret that it doesn't last, and I am surprised at how rarely others have heard of the Alibi when discussing casual dining places in Miami. So here goes...

I was first introduced to the Alibi by my friend, Ben, a great guy who passed away just over a month ago at the terribly young age of 34 from complications due to his diabetes. It's hard to believe and it hasn't really sunk in, but it prompted a group of close friends that day to head over to the Abbey for a few beers, and then to the Alibi, one of his favorite spots in Miami, to commiserate and grab a bite the day we found out about his untimely demise.

Located within Lost Weekend, one of the few remaining dive bars on South Beach for those of us who bemoan the bottle service and velvet rope culture that's permeated our town, the Alibi is simply a dining counter that doesn't even take orders. You place yours with the bartender on duty and he or she will pass along the instructions to whoever's slaving away on the grill.

Take a look at the menu and you'll find among the many offerings my favorites: the Chicken 'n Cheese, with optional just-like-they-make-'em-in-Philly Cheese Whiz for 9 bucks, the Writer's Block, which you could consider something like a Deluxe Chicken/Steak 'n Cheese with all the fixins for 11 bucks, piping hot, crispy, savory Truffled French Fries for 6 bucks, and the best Margherita Pizza in town for 10. Check out the fresh basil and balsamic drizzle. This is gourmet bar food on the cheap. mmmmmmmmmm -

I don't know anyone who doesn't love this place. I know plenty of people who think that Lost Weekend is kind of lame. It never has much energy, which is ironic since I've seen so many people openly doing coke in its bathroom. You know, unlike most bars in Miami. I do like that the jukebox has a wide selection and is rarely monopolized. There's also a foosball table on which I've kicked many an ass. There are several pool tables, a punching machine, etc. You'd think the place that has it all would be a ton of fun but it just isn't. I think the crowd it attracts is an unusual one. Maybe the owners like it that way for whatever reason.

But the Alibi! Oh, the Alibi. I love it so. If you haven't been, check it out. You won't be disappointed.

Back to the man who introduced me to the Alibi, my pal, Ben.

Ben was a lover of life. He didn't half-ass anything. As we mourned him and recounted stories of our respective relationships with him, I told a few friends and relatives about the fact that you didn't just go to lunch with Ben. It was an adventure. If he wanted you to accompany him to lunch, he'd call you up and say something like "Alright dude, this is what we're gonna do. You're gonna swing by my house, get on the boat, and we'll cruise up to Duffy's." On the way we'd look at some waterfront mansions. Like A-Rod's, near Mr. Sinai Hospital -

Man that place is sweet.

We'd take four, five hours for a lunch mission. If he had a barbecue, there would be several courses, starting around 2pm and the production wouldn't cease until at least 9 or 10.

I suffer from fairly serious headaches, including migraines, from time to time. Once when I was at Ben's house years ago, I mentioned that I wasn't feeling so great and he offered to make me a coffee, since caffeine is a great remedy for headaches. He concocted for me a professional espresso with foamed milk and sweetened with agave nectar, which is low on the glycemic index and good for him since he suffered from severe Type 1 Diabetes since age 14. When he'd made me that elaborate, delicious coffee, I remember like it was yesterday saying to him, "Ben, you really get a lot out of life, don't you?" He replied "you only go around once, my friend." I knew he meant it like he savored every moment he had in this world. If you had the pleasure of spending any significant amount of time with him, you know that that is how he approached pretty much everything in life. Kind of how the Alibi makes simple things like Margherita Pizza and Steak 'n Cheese into gourmet fare. If you're gonna make a sandwich, make it the best goddamned sandwich you ever had, because you just don't know, it may be your last.

At his memorial service just days after he passed, his sister Katie put it this way, to the crowd of hundreds in attendance: "Ben always chose the path of most excitement." Couldn't have said it better.

I'm going to close by posting a photo that encapsulates Ben to a tee. He was easygoing, friendly to everyone he met, a lover of the good things in life like nice clothes, very fine scotch and tobacco. He loved California. He loved good times and great people and he surrounded himself with all of those things. There is an enormous void that is left in his absence. I will think of him often for the rest of my life. Here Ben stood during a wedding reception, in a custom-made suit, on the California coast, scotch in one hand, Nat Sherman cigarette in the other, bringing a little sunshine from the eponymous state to a group of his best friends.