As we all know by now, Miami Spice is a magical time in the Magic City when restaurants offer up special three-course menus at discounted prices. While some participating restaurants use the program to take risks and try out new dishes, many simply highlight what’s generally considered the best of their menu. Regardless, almost all stick to offering three courses – an appetizer, an entree, and a dessert.
So, when perusing the Miami Spice website the other night, the Downtown Bistro menu immediately caught my eye when I read the words: “Enjoy Our 4-course Miami Spice Menu.” 4 courses, you say? For $39 and no upcharges? Yes, please!
Then, as if the deal couldn’t get any better, when I called to make a reservation I was told, “come on in, we have happy hour until 8:30pm.” Is this real life? I was basically in my car before I even hung up the phone. Thank god I already had pants on!
Anyway, let’s get to the meal… I last visited Downtown Bistro during a media dinner about a year ago, and I’m happy to report that the overall decadence is still alive and well. Actually, a lot of the Miami Spice menu items I had already tried before, but was pleasantly surprised to find that the quality hadn’t fallen off and that the flavors were just as good on a regular night than they were on a night when the restaurant was presumably trying extra hard to impress media.
So, what did I eat? Well, after starting off with some 2×1 Rosé by the glass, I essentially just decided to go ahead and try one of everything off the Miami Spice dinner menu…
For the appetizer course, I tried the Bacon Wrapped Scallops, Escargots in Garlic Butter, and French Onion Soup.
The scallop, while yummy, only brings one. I know it’s a starter, but I think there should at least be two. Especially if you’re trying to take advantage and share with your dining partner.
The snails actually can either be ordered in the garlic butter sauce or in the restaurant’s signature butter cream sauce. I have previously tried the signature sauce and it is delicious, but since I had about 10 other dishes to eat, I opted for the slightly lighter garlic butter sauce this time. And, let’s be honest, you can never go wrong with garlic butter.
I’m usually not a French Onion Soup guy, but this one is exceptionally good. The cheese was cheesy and melty, the broth was thick and creamy, and the onions were perfectly caramelized and not too overwhelming. Do yourself a favor and order some extra bread to dip around in there as well. #fatboytips
(Note: there were actually five choices of appetizers, but I figured ordering all of them would just be overkill. Left out were the Fried Brie and the Fondant de Chevre.)
The next course was also appetizer-esque and consisted of three options: Octopus Carpaccio, Filet Mignon Tartare, and Fried Goat Cheese Medallion.
The octopus is light and briny. The sweetness of the cherry tomatoes and zestiness of the passionfruit vinaigrette also pair very nicely with the seafood flavors.
Not a dish for the faint of heart, but the classic-ness (is that a word?) of the hand cut steak mixed and quail egg combine is just so damn satisfying.
The fried goat cheese is awesomely crispy on the outside and nicely smooth and creamy on the inside. But, I have to say the star of this dish is the pumpkin puree. A true knockout.
For the entrees, Downtown Bistro also offers three choices: Short Rib Ravioli with 4 Cheese Sauce, New Zealand Rack of Lamb, and Steamed Mussels.
Downtown Bistro’s version of surf and turf. The past is perfectly cooked, the short rib is tender, the four cheese sauce is rich, and the shrimp add just the right amount of freshness.
I loved this lamb dish. So much so that if you were in the restaurant the other night, you most likely saw me gnawing on a bone or two. #sorrynotsorry
I’m a sucker for mussels and the combination of the blue cheese, spinach, and red wine did not disappoint. However, I was missing the crispiness that the accompanying French fries usually bring. For some reason they didn’t make it to the table for me, but thankfully I had some extra bread for broth dipping.
When it comes to dessert, get ready to eat three for the price of one. Yep, Downtown Bistro continues to fully embrace the Miami Spice concept all the way through dessert with their sampler of Chocolate Mousse, Creme Brulee, and a Fried Oreo.
The Spice price is right because: At it’s core, Miami Spice is all about offering diners the opportunity to explore the best of Miami cuisine at affordable and accessible prices. Downtown Bistro takes that initial deal and goes one step further by offering four dinner* courses instead of three, a three-for-one dessert, and a late happy hour until 8:30pm. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Standout dishes: If I had to choose just one dish from each course, my picks would be the Escargots, Fried Goat Cheese Medallion, Short Rib Ravioli, and dessert…of course.
*Downtown Bistro’s Miami Spice dinner menu is only available Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. Usually I wouldn’t be down with that, but in this case the restaurant is only open for dinner on those nights anyway, so I guess it’s OK. They also offer a Miami Spice lunch menu Monday through Friday.