Dining in Miami, FL
Well, you may have never thought of blending Asian and Cuban cuisine, but that's not your job --that's the job of Chef Joseph Maynard at Asia de Cuba, and the result is revolutionary. In fact, it's a whole new cuisine. Take the signature appetizer, which mingles raw tuna with Spanish olives and currents, then nestles the result on wonton crisps, or the Cuban pork, which keeps company with fried rice. The desserts, most notably the coconut layer cake, are scrumptious, and the portions downright hefty, when you consider that this is elegant, white tablecloth dining. And the decor --well, it's eye-opping, all Alice-in-Wonderland-y, with oversized lamps and chandeliers. Add a drop-dead view of Biscayne Bay, and you can see why dining here would make any occasion unforgettable.
Allen Susser may be the darling of all the gourmet cooking magazines, but you don’t need a sophisticated palate to adore his creations; all you need to do is have some working taste buds and an appreciation of what tastes good, and you’ll come away very satisfied. What Susser does is work his magic on ingredients like broiled scallops, or grilled escargot, and then enliven them with peppers, spices, and other New World goodies, and make those fishes sing. He single-handedly raised the mango to star status too. But if you really want to shock your palate, go for the Okeechobee Frog Legs doused in the hottest of the hot sauce labeled “Insane.” Gourmet cooking? Well, it is – your palate just won’t know it! Oh, and don’t forget to cool yourself down with Susser’s Key Lime Pie – you are in Florida, after all.
You know that hot “from farm to table” concept, in which local food is prepared to gourmet standards? Well, Chef Michael Schwartz pioneered the concept, and it’s taken him from Miami to his latest place in the Cayman Islands. But you can sample the original here, at his James Beard award-winning eatery. This game-changing restaurant offers the freshest native ingredients, like heirloom tomatoes in the salad, local grouper, and double yolk eggs. You can go simple (The Harris Black Angus burger) or fancy (duck confit or rabbit terrine). The word “local” appears in the menu here more than probably anywhere else, but Schwartz will go anywhere for the right ingredient, as seen recently in his choice of “Cheese of the Week.” (Spain). The interior is snappy here, and totally in keeping with this eater’s locale, which is snugly in Miami’s artsy Design District, where the outdoor murals alone are worth the trip.
In Miami, you’ll eventually get a hankering for Latin cuisine, and Ola is definitely worth scouting out. Actually, award-winning Chef Douglas Rodriguez considers this Nuevo Latino cuisine, which means traditional Spanish cuisine, but served up with a new twist. This is evident just from the list of cerviches on his menu – there’s a choice of 10, including “Fire and Ice,” featuring cobia marinated in sour orange, Thai chilies, cilantro, and jalapeño, served over saia pear granita. Entrees include Latin specialties like Braised pork and filet mignon churrasco, but there’s also sugar cane tune, which is served with a malanga goat cheese fondue, and pionono, which features a sweet plantain roulade stuffed with green and yellow zucchini, along with other veggies, in a black bean sauce. This is not your grandma’s Latin cooking, but it wins raves on South Beach.
If you’re in Miami, how can you resist “Cuisine of the Sun?” You can’t, which is what Chef Cindy Hutson is banking on, and she succeeds in luring diners to her spiffy eatery, which is decorated in dark woods, with sunshiny colors to match the New Caribbean cuisine on the plate. Here, you can opt for a prix fix “Taste of the Sun” menu, which is offered at both dinner and lunch, or go ala carte; whichever way you chose, you’ll be enjoying fresh ingredients, like seafood, conch or short ribs, rubbed with Jamaican spices, or served with curry, or mangoes or other tropical fruits. Numerous “Best New Restaurant” accolades greeted this charmer when it opened, and the quality remains stellar. “Ortanique” is a natural orangey liquor, by the way, so look for it in dishes here. Dessert pairing with coffee or wine is also helpfully suggested.