Part 2 in my coverage, here the Best of Miami Spice, favorite dining experiences, two for lunch and the other for dinner. In case you missed the earlier post with a list of all 200 participating restaurants with a click through to menus, and another Spice experience and menus at some of my restaurant favorites, click here.
Dinner menu is $45 (Monday – Sunday)
Appetizer (Choose 2) mezze from roasted red beets with labneh, pistachio, caraway, barbari bread; duck kibbeh dried fig, date molasses, tahini; lamb ribs dukkah, buttermilk sauce, carob molasses, red chili schug; hummus with pomegranate, roasted pine nuts, pita bread; creamed spinach pide feta cheese, toum, dukkah; and Turkish kale salad shaved brussels, fig, pear, toasted almonds, pomegranate, tulum cheese. For a supplemental charge choose hamachi ($10) or black truffle pide ($10).
Choose one entree from among Turkish manti dumplings eggplant, yogurt sauce, molasses; Middle Eastern fried chicken tahini, za’atar, hot sauce; roasted duck breast, pistachio crusted, carrot ginger puree, pomegranate jus; Atlantic salmon harissa, sumac, citrus yogurt; and 6 ounce petit filet smoked eggplant purée , concentrated tomato, zatar butter, veal jus. For a supplemental charge choose roasted lamb shoulder ($25) or grilled whole branzino $15).Choose one side from among rock shrimp rice, persian kale rice, roasted brussel sprouts and cauliflower. Dessert choice (one) includes strawberry cheesecake, stuffed baklava and sorbet.
Address: 1545 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach
My Experience at Dinner:
As always, Byblos Miami Spice scored high marks again this year with a wonderful selection of top dishes from their Eastern Mediterranean cuisine, and good sized portions as well, a great deal at the lower Miami Spice dinner price of $45. They believe it’s a chance to introduce new clients to the restaurant by putting their best foot forward and it shows. For dinner on Spice, each diner chooses two mezze, a main course, one side dish and a dessert. So if you’re two people, you get to have a mini banquet.
We started with the turkish kale salad that was laced with shaved brussels sprouts, dried fruit and nuts, pomegranate and tulum cheese. It was sweet and very flavorful, a favorite. We also really liked the kibbeh, a welcome variation on the traditional meat variety here made with duck and served on top of a sauce of date molasses, dried fig and tahini, light and delicious.
Pizza lovers will enjoy the Turkish answer to the Italian favorite, here made with creamed spinach, feta cheese, toum cheese and spices. If you like pasta, for a very different and exotic taste treat you must try the Turkish manti dumplings filled with eggplant in a sauce of yogurt and molasses.
My friend opted for the roasted duck breast, another favorite, that was crusted with pistachios and accompanied with carrot ginger puree and pomegranate jus giving it a slightly sweet taste. A best dish of the evening was surely the Persian kale rice. Crisply and crunchy lentils along with tiny black beans topped rice along with a dollop of yogurt like labneh.
The combination of textures and flavors really worked. For dessert don’t miss the stuffed baklava. It’s phyllo pastry dough that’s filled with pistachio ice cream with a dollop of dark chocolate.
It is served frozen and all I can say is I ate the whole thing which I seldom do! The spice menu can be paired with 3 courses of wine for $28 per person. Service is professional and friendly and the ambiance attractive. There’s a municipal parking lot a block away.
Miami Spice 2022 Offering: $28 Lunch (Monday-Friday); $60 Dinner (Monday-Thursday)
Lunch includes: Appetizers (choose 1) catch of tomorrow, ful medames (Egyptian fava bean spread with flat bread), gazpacho, roasted squid with dates and chorizo (add $9) or burrata with san marzano sorbet (add $9). Entree choices are bucatini baba ganoush, pork tenderloin, chicken za’atar, bluehouse salmon (add $15) or bucatini di mare with shrimp and octopus (add $15). Dessert choices are ice cream and sorbet or phyllo napoleon (add $7).
Dinner includes: Appetizers choice of catch of tomorrow, seasonal roots, burrata with San Marzano sorbet, roasted squid (add $7), manti Turkish dumplings (add $7). Choices of entrees are organic farro, pork tenderloin, bluehouse salmon, octopus (add $15), lamb chops (add $19). Dessert offerings are ice cream and sorbet, phyllo napoleon and kunafa (add $7).
Address: 259 Giralda Avenue in Coral Gables
My Experience at Lunch:
Executive Chef Christian Chirino always manages to come up with menus that are not only original, but the food is delicious and artfully presented. The menu descriptions don’t do the dishes justice precisely because they are so different. Take for example the “catch of tomorrow,” a plant based crudo with heirloom gazpacho okra and chive. Though I’m not personally into plant based foods, I ordered this, and it turned out to be a fave of my lunch. Though made of chickpea protein that’s colored with goji berry, it tasted like a mild tuna, its flavor deliciously enhanced by the yellow heirloom tomato sauce. It was topped with thin slices of okra and chives.
My friend opted for the oh so creamy burrata, one of the richer, and creamier ones I’ve had. It was filled with a delicate elixir gel made from over 70 herbs and spices and accompanied by a sweet tomato sorbet that really worked. For mains we tried the bucatini pasta laced with baba ganoush, a Middle Eastern vegetable dish with eggplant and dukkah a condiment of herbs, nuts and spices. Our favorite was the chicken Za’atar that had an unusually crispy skin and was very flavorful and juicy, beautifully presented with swirls of cucumber, cubes of feta cheese, black olives and tomatoes .
I loved the verine, a deconstructed lemon custard tart with blueberries, trendily served in a glass. A visual wow is the phyllo napoleon, phyllo layered with cardamom-allspice smoked chantilly cream, coffee, edible flowers and berries, a fitting end to the enjoyable meal.
Miami Spice offering: Lunch $28, Monday to Friday, 12 to 3:30 p.m.
Menu: Start with a detox shot made from vegetables. Then it’s on to a choice of three dishes from among a long list: crispy tofu, salad greens & chili; bang bang vegetable salad; prawn gyoza, soy & ginger dressing; burrata & kimchi; tomato & lemon, goma; salmon tataki & yuzu miso; parsnip & red chili tempura; grilled tiger prawns, chili & lime; crispy sweet potato maki, tarragon miso; spicy yellowtail maki; avocado & asparagus donburi; steamed sea bass, cilantro & chili; crispy chicken & creamy nuoc cham; grilled sweet potato & coconut wasabi; kimchi rice and pork; steamed rice. Available at supplemental charges are salmon teriyaki & pickled cucumbers; caramelized beef & yuzu kosho; oven roasted ½ lobster; Japanese wagyu 2 oz . Dessert is a choice of warm cinnamon donuts with chocolate sauce or seasonal fruit.
My Experience at Lunch: If you’ve been wanting to see Sexy Fish (and it’s a place you don’t want to miss), now is the time. Just being there is an experience, for the decor, uniforms, and glam people watching (click on my earlier review below). Their Miami Spice lunch menu has a large selection of their signature dishes and the price is right. If possible, go with friends (you’re allowed up to 6 people in a group for Spice) so you can try more dishes. With a choice of 3 from 15 dishes not including those with extra supplements, there’s lots to choose from. Note that they have a strict cancellation policy, so if you don’t give them the required advance notice, your credit card is charged.
I went with Eleanor Hoh, a.k.a. the Wok Star, who knows her Asian food. She gave top marks to the tiger prawns, two in an order (I have an allergy to shrimp so alas, none for me), saying they were tender, tasty and very fresh. We both liked the yellowtail maki and the crispy tofu, avocado and salad greens. I’m not one for tofu, but this was delicious.
Another fave was the steamed bass with cilantro and chili which was also uber fresh and delicate. I deferred to her on the kimchi rice and pork which she proclaimed very good. Topping off our picks were the cinnamon donuts with chocolate dipping sauce and curd. Bottom line, we both really enjoyed our lunch.
For more about Sexy Fish, click here for my earlier review.
Address: 1001 South Miami Avenue, Miami