By Mahogani Jones
The National Hotel is known for its legendary grace, Art Deco style, and Miami Beach’s longest infinity-edge pool. The only descriptor that must never be omitted from their identity is its extraordinary restaurant: Tamara’s Bistro. From colorful mosaic ceilings to exceptional service, the character and vivacity of Tamara’s Bistro radiates throughout the room from the moment you arrive. And that’s not even the best part of the venue. The degustation menu at Tamara’s Bistro is like none other. Just when you thought exploring new interpretations of contemporary international cuisines was enough to satisfy your stomach, Chef Matthew adds a “Miami twist” to each menu item that’s sure to have your taste buds singing high praises.
For those who see the word “degustation” and immediately get anxiety… Trust me, you have nothing to fear! Degustation is just a big way of saying you will be sampling an array of small dishes served one after the other. And what a culinary delight it was! The idea of a degustation menu originates from a French term to encompass the notion of savoring of food with all your senses, having an appreciation of ingredients and the chef’s technical skills, and enjoying food with good company. At Tamara’s Bistro, that definition couldn’t be more fitting.
Kick-off your Miami Spice experience with a Basil Champagne Mojito. Like I said, everything about Tamara’s Bistro has a twist; this, too, holds true for their cocktails. The ingredients: homemade lime-basil simple syrup topped with champagne (instead of the traditional mojito rum). It’s served with fresh basil and a sugar cane stick. Just thinking about it brings me to a happy place.
Then you get to the menu … And being disappointed is not even an option! The following is a brief recap of Tamara’s Bistro Miami Spice dinner menus ($39 pp):
Watermelon and Feta – with candied walnuts
The refreshing combination of juicy watermelon and fragrant cheese is only amplified when topped with candied walnuts. Perfect starter for the summer on the beaches.
Grilled Oysters – with confit garlic and creamed spinach
Oyster connoisseurs start licking your fingers. Grilled to perfection and doused with confit garlic and creamed spinach, this dish is (as my father would say), “so good, it makes you want to slap your momma!”
Endives – with roquefort, figs, arugula, shaved apple, and candied walnuts
So this one is technically on the Miami Spice lunch menu at Tamara’s Bistro, but that’s OK! Served on a bed of arugula, with roquefort, shaved apples and candied walnuts, the presentation of the dish was just as good as the flavor.
Poulet Roti – Joyce Farms pomegranate glazed chicken, maple blueberry jus, and a savory gaufre
Not your typical roti, but one to definitely write home about. From the bottom up, you have blueberries covered in maple blueberry jus (also known as a syrup), savory gaufre (which you would know as a waffle), and crowned with a delectable piece of Joyce Farms pomegranate glazed chicken.
Herb Rubbed Rack of Lamb – with red quinoa salad, apple raita, and port jus
An unspoiled complement to the red quinoa salad, apple raita and port jus.
Mousse Au Chocolat – with macaroon and crème de cassis
When you serve chocolate mousse in a martini glass, you know it’s good. But when you add crème de cassis, a blackberry, and a macaroon, it’s heaven in your mouth.
Banana Crème Brûlée
My mindset of not being fond of bananas was entirely altered when sampling this sensation. The taste. The texture. The total package was tremendous.
Key Lime Tart – with flamed meringue and fruit graffiti
Last stop on the menu, but certainly not least, was the key lime tart. With a flamed meringue swirled on top and a fruit graffiti dribbled underneath, the arrangement of tang was impeccable for any key lime aficionado.
Mahogani’s take: When only the best will do, visit Tamara’s Bistro for an unparalleled experience. This unforgettable restaurant caters to a chic (yet eclectic) palate. Kudos on the cocktails; the ambiance is unbelievable and the dishes are simply divine. Although people say, “third time’s a charm,” for Tamara’s Bistro, their lucky number is four. As the fourth time participating in Miami Spice, this degustation menu is the best I have had, bar none.
Standout dishes: If I had to select just one menu item from each grouping (for Miami Spice purposes), the Grilled Oysters, Poulet Roti, and Banana Crème Brûlée will have you saving $39 every week so you can take another trip back to Tamara’s Bistro for more!