Last Sunday I had the opportunity to attend the first annual Aventura Wine & Food Festival held at Gulfstream Park. As a new foodie blogger, I jumped at the opportunity to discover some of the restaurant offerings up in North Dade County, outside the friendly confines of Coral Gables, Midtown and South Beach. With more than 50 restaurants and wines promised for exposition, I have to say I was genuinely excited for my Sunday Funday outing. Unfortunately, I have to report that the experience did not match the excitement.
Timo’s at the Villa Mayfair has it all. From contemporary stylings to delicious food, this Coconut Grove restaurant features hip décor inside and out, a sleek bar with an extensive selection of wine, beer and cocktails, and a comprehensive and eclectic modern American menu. It’s kitschy, yet fashionable. It’s trendy, yet tasteful. I can only imagine that if it were located on South Beach and not in it’s semi-hidden spot behind the Mayfair Hotel it would be overflowing with throngs of foodie hipsters. Thankfully it’s not, and, at its heart, Timo’s is still a neighborhood joint; a new Grove favorite just for those in the know.
Amidst the holiday buzz, we decided to check out Batch GastroPub, the latest restaurant to pop up in Brickell (two blocks south of Mary Brickell Village.)
I feel pretty confident in saying that this place is going through a tad bit of an identity crisis. I realize that a GastroPub is a fusion of high-end cocktails (mostly beer) and food, but there’s a consistency in that concept that I just didn’t feel at Batch. I’m not sure if its aim is to be a pub with its big screen TVs, a restaurant with its sit-down service and excess of tables, or a lounge with its DJ and loud music off to the side. I’m all for celebrating and embracing hybrid concepts and ideas, specifically a damn good GastroPub in Miami, but Batch feels like it’s trying to be a lot and ends up being nothing.
To dine or to brunch, that is the question… OK, so maybe it’s not the question (a la Hamlet), however often times when a new restaurant opens it can be hard to decide when to first go: for dinner or for brunch.
I recently experienced this very serious dilemma when Tongue & Cheek arrived on the South Beach scene earlier this year. So, of course, I did what any logical (?) person would do and visited on back-to-back days – Friday night for dinner and Saturday morning for brunch – thanks to two great Gilt City tasting menu deals.
Below are my thoughts as to which experience is more worth your while:
The masters behind the creative force 50 Eggs Inc., (credited with the culinary genius of Yardbird and Swine) are the power house behind Khong River House, a restaurant offering authentic food from Northern Thailand to sunny South Florida.
There’s a new kid on the block in Midtown. Blackbrick, the latest endeavor from Chef Richard Hales, focuses down his modern take on pan-Asian cooking (see Sakaya Kitchen & Dim Ssam a Go-Go) to cover one of America’s most beloved cuisines – Chinese food.
If you were thinking that modern Chinese means trendy décor and trendy ingredients, you’d be wrong. The only modern thing that those restaurants offer is a more expensive version of the normal food you can get from any takeout joint. On the flip side, Blackbrick’s modern offerings are more along the lines of providing its diners with a quality, chef-driven menu that highlights local and organic ingredients.
Decorative. Festive. Damn good sushi. That’s the synopsis of Sushi Samba Coral Gables. Ominously located across the street from the long-time favorite, Sushi Maki, this new dig is ready to reign as the cool, new kid in town. I seldom visit the Lincoln Road location (Sushi Samba Miami Beach), mostly because of the tourist infestation. The food experiences on several occasions have been highly unmemorable, so this lunch at Sushi Samba Coral Gables was all an overall pleasant surprise.