Tuesday, May 29, 2012

J + G Grill, Bal Harbour

Miami gets another celeb-chef restaurant with the first Florida outpost of J + G Grill, a bistro from French toque Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Housed in the opulent new St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort the cathedral-like dining room overlooks the ocean and the resort’s pools through double-height floor-to-ceiling windows. The room exudes a soothing Zen mix of grey herringbone wall panels, slate-colored banquettes, plush carpeting and oversized silver pendant lights. An outdoor patio with lush landscaping and mod furniture works well in the evenings.

The kitchen is helmed by chef de cuisine Richard Gras (Ritz Carlton Half Moon Bay) who executes classics from the Jean-Georges canon like hamachi sashimi and black truffle pizza. Prices are in line with the posh surroundings with starters $10-$32, mains $24-$45 and sides $8-$10.

Dinner starts with slices of crusty baguette and multi-grain bread and a soybean spread. From there starters like parsnip soup with coconut foam and peekytoe crab cake with pink grapefruit showcase the chef’s farm-to-table approach. Florida hearts of palm and heirloom tomatoes are showcased in a delicate salad dressed with shards of coconut while the black truffle pizza with fontina cheese could easily be a main dish. Fish dishes include a local red snapper with sweet and sour jus and a roasted grouper with black beans and cilantro. Meat lovers can go for the Flintstones-sized milk-fed veal chop in a sherry marinade nestled in a pistachio pesto along with roasted cauliflower. The soy-glazed short rib with apple-jalapeno pueree is hearty enough to be shared.

Sides like black truffle cheese fritters and sautéed maitake mushrooms round out the eclectic feast.

Pastry chef Antonio Bachour (W South Beach) gets creative with sweets like the key lime vacherin made with coconut meringue and chunks of mango and the Grand Marnier soufflĂ© with mandarin orange sorbet. But ice cream lovers shouldn’t miss the salted caramel sundae made with homemade ice cream topped with popcorn and peanuts.

9703 Collins Ave Bal Harbour, FL 33154 (305) 993-3333

Monday, May 28, 2012

Unknwn, A Store

It turns out LeBron James is quite the retailer and his baby Unknwn is packed with unique finds. To help you understand this retail miracle, here's some vital data…
Seconds it will take to walk across the corridor from J. Crew to the store: 30
Number of LeBron’s friends who are collaborating on the store: 4
Per cent of that team that have worked with Kanye on clothing lines: 25
Percent chance you’ll catch LeBron there stocking the shelves: 0
Percent chance you’ll catch him hosting a paparazzi-packed opening party: 100
iPads festooned to the sneaker display wall: 45
Vintage Miami Hurricanes t-shirts in stock: 1
Percent chance you’ll pair it with the 60’s aviation jacket for sale: 50
Listening stations where you’ll try out Beats by Dr. Dre headphones: 1
Tables stocked with Barbara Kruger art books, Jay-Z’s Decoded and old LIFE mags: 2
Percent chance you’ll curl up with all three and a mug of eggnog: 95
19501 Biscayne Blvd Aventura, FL 33180

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Nine, Hotel Breakwater

Newsflash: there's actually good Italian food on Ocean Drive. Crazy, I know. But consider Nine, an alfresco Italian enclave now open at the Hotel Breakwater your new excuse to sit outside on Ocean Drive.
So yes, it’s time to take the touristy strip back from the t-shirt hawkers and the daiquiri swillers. Because this place is legit. The chef’s from the Amalfi Coast. He worked at Escopazzo. And he makes his own bread, pasta and burrata cheese in house.
Inside the restored hotel there’s a tasteful dining room with polished terrazzo floors and cushy purple couches but we’d like to draw your attention to the spacious outdoor terrace. And the menu of rustic, greatest-hits-of Italy cuisine.
This is where you'll go on lazy evenings when you feel like sitting outside and sharing a bottle of Chianti with good company while supping on bowls of tagliatelle pasta with lobster and chili sauce.
 Hotel Breakwater 940 Ocean Drive Miami Beach, Florida 33139 305-532-2362

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Vesper American Brasserie

The revamped Shelborne on South Beach is now to the polished Vesper, a clandestine supper club serving upscale American standards. Tucked away in the back of the hotel by the pool, the restaurant is entered via the kitchen, giving it a mafia-movie vibe (although the name is a reference from an Ian Fleming James Bond novels). The petite dining room done up in wood paneling, leather banquettes and black and white photos feels like the interior of a yacht or an underground gentlemen’s club. A large patio offers al fresco seating with white couches and candlelight, as well as ocean breezes and pool views.

Chef Frank Ferreiro (Prime Italian) presides over the menu of upscale comfort food by keeping things simple and portions generous. Prices are on par with SoBe hotel dining spots. Starters are $12-$16, mains $25-$52, sides are $7-$9.

The gratis bread basket features homemade corn bread, cheese bread and ciabatta rolls. The artichoke-spinach dip served warm in a mini-casserole dish is large enough for four while seafood lovers will appreciate the colossal crab cocktail. The Caesar salad doesn’t break the mold with its sourdough croutons and well-dressed romaine and the iceberg wedge comes with Nuskee bacon. Mains include a gargantuan platter of shrimp scampi over linguine, a Shepherd’s pie made with Kobe beef wagyu and a grilled branzino bathed in a champagne lemon-butter sauce over roasted corn. Four cuts of steak available include a twelve-ounce filet with choice of black truffle or gorgonzola butters.

Desserts include the diet-busting “zeppoli” fried oreos encased in fluffy fried dough served with chocolate dipping sauce, a platter of donuts accompanied by a vanilla milkshake and key lime cheesecake.

1801 Collins Avenue, 305-341-1500