Tag Archives: Miami

Miss Saigon Bistro **


Steamed Rice Noodles (Bun) with Lemongrass Curry Chicken and Spring Rolls over Lettuce, Bean Sprouts, Shaved Carrots, Cilantro, Mint, Chopped Peanuts, and Lime

148 Giralda Ave
Coral Gables, Fl 33146


I have been so behaved on this ridiculous diet, but today I cracked. I got the taste of carbs on my tongue on binge day and haven’t been able to get the thought of them out of my head since. I can go without sugar, I can go without dairy, I can even go without sex, but please, for the love of all that is good in this world, don’t take away my carbs!!!

Now, in my own defense, I didn’t succumb to my carb craving easily—it was a slow and steady build up of temptation throughout the day. I went to work and my favorite sandwich (chipotle chicken ciabatta) was on the menu as a lunch special. I had to watch customers order and rave about how delicious the sandwich was while I carried my spinach salad without dressing to back rooms for lunch. Then in my evening class, my teacher decided to treat the entire class to pizza. Not only did I have to watch everyone scarfing down their cheesy hot slices of deliciousness, but I also had to endure the rest of the 3 hour lecture in a room that smelled like a pizza shop (with my belly burning in hunger, might I add!).

I was so tormented by these temptations that I packed up my things and left class early to go get myself a Vietnamese Bun. No one wanted to join me, but not even the awkwardness of eating alone came between me and my noodle dish. I drove over to Miss Saigon Bistro near Miracle Mile in Coral Gables and got a table for one.

I ordered the Bun (steamed rice noodles) with Lemongrass Curry Chicken and Spring Rolls, which also contains Bean Sprouts, Cilantro, Mint, Shaved Carrots, Green Onions, Shredded Lettuce, Roasted Peanuts, and Lime. The average portion of this dish is enormous (and it was here too, as you can see in the photo), so I figured I would eat half the dish and take the other half to go, but I didn’t put my chopsticks down till every noodle was in my belly—a screw you to my carb-free diet.

As for the quality of the food, it wasn’t very good. The meat was nicely flavored (make sure that you ask for all white meat if you get chicken), but the dish itself lacked flavor. The noodles weren’t the vermicelli noodles that I have grow accustomed to eating at Vietnamese restaurants at home, and the dish overall was disappointing (even though it satisfied my carb craving). I think I was most upset though when the check came because the Bun for one came to $17, which is ludicrous. I am used to getting the same size portion but better quality for just $7 at home. In conclusion, I left feeling guilty for having cheated on my diet, and mad for having paid $17 for that guilt.

I wouldn’t recommend Miss Saigon Bistro, but since it is one of the few Vietnamese places in Miami, it will probably stay in business by default for a many years to come. If anyone can suggest an alternative Vietnamese restaurant in Miami, please leave it in a comment response, because I crave Pho like a sick kid craves chicken noodle soup.

**In regards to the diet, I did feel significantly more energetic after consuming the carbs and was able to have a powerhouse workout later that evening, which I wasn’t capable of when eating strictly protein. I also was in a much happier mood and felt entirely less lethargic.


Filed under Miami Restaurants

The Restaurant at the Setai *****

Chicken Satay Skewers with Hot Chili Dipping Sauce

In the Setai Hotel
2001 Collins Ave (at 20th Street)
Miami Beach, Fl 33139


My chili lunch turned out fabulous, and I had a second bowl around 8 O’Clock before going out tonight. Ohh, if you’re wondering about how alcohol figures into this ridiculous diet, allow me to explain now. On the carb-slow diet, you are allowed to have 2 glasses of red wine each night, and the drier the red wine the better (so Pinot Noirs, Cabernets, and Merlots over Malbecs, for example). But I don’t feel the need to drink every night, and so I have taken it upon myself to justify roll-over drinks. Meaning that on the nights I do drink, I will allow myself to have 3 because I had none the previous night. This is probably not allowed, but I am in college and there are nights that I will want to be drunk with friends, so I’ve decided to bend the rules a little bit. Also, I find myself getting drunk off of only 3 glasses of wine now because there isn’t a whole bunch of carbs in your belly to absorb the alcohol. That’s definitely a perk on this diet—you become a lightweight that gets drunk fast and for cheap. Certainly is saving me money at the bar!

Anyways, tonight I went with some friends to the Setai for drinks and a bite to eat before going out to LIV. This was my first time eating out on the diet, and it was probably the most conducive menu to my limitations. The Restaurant at the Setai is a Pan-Asian, Pacific Rim restaurant with infusions of Indian, Thai, Chinese, and Malaysian cuisines. So it is a lot of protein and a lot of vegetables, which I can have. To start I ordered the Chicken Satay Skewers, which came with a spicy red dipping sauce. They were delicious, but certainly different because they didn’t come with the traditional peanut sauce. I also ordered the Tom Kha Gai Soup, which is chicken, galangal, kaffir lime leaf, and oyster mushrooms, simmered in coconut milk. This dish is one of my favorites, and I always order it when I go out for Thai food, so it was hard for me to deny myself the coconut milk broth and sticky rice that I normally put it in. Instead, I used my chopsticks to pull out the pieces of meat and the different veggies, leaving behind the delicious, but caloric, coconut milk and rice. The dish was still fabulous though and the chicken was so well flavored from cooking in the broth. It probably would have been the best Tom Kha Gai I have ever had, had I been allowed to drink the broth and eat the rice. But it was still fabulous!

Tom Gha Kai Soup

I did make one little splurge tonight and substituted one glass of wine for a Chili Passion Martini, which is officially the best cocktail that I have ever tasted! It is Captain Morgan Passion Fruit Infused Rum, Ginger Juice, Orange Juice, Cranberry Juice, and Red Chili Seeds. WOW! It is such an exotic flavor with a perfect blend of hot and sweet. I will probably have cravings for this drink in the near future. If you go to the Setai, you must order this martini! End of story. I now it sounds super girly—and it is—but boys, order one for the girl that you are with and steal a sip or two. I promise that it is so good, you won’t care what anyone thinks of you sipping your passion martini (decorated with a cute little red chili pepper!).

Chili Passion Martini



Filed under Miami Restaurants

Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink ****

Crispy Sweet and Spicy Porkbelly with Peanuts, Kimchi, and Pea Shoots

130 NE 40th Street
Miami, Fl 33137


After Jen left on Sunday morning, I was ready to detox my body. No more Sir Pizza, no more booze, and no more dessert (by the way, I had the most ridiculous Chocolate Lava Cake with Ice Cream at Segafredos in Brickell, after dinner at Perricones! Delicious!) But just as I was planning out my menu of healthy salads for the week, I remembered that I had a date! I figured, after an entire weekend of binge eating, what’s one more night of unhealthy food? Of course, I could have always just ordered a salad on the date, but that is just so boring and since I am clearly not the kind of girl that has a problem eating in front of guys, I knew that I would end up eating a full three course meal. So I showered up, got dressed, and headed downstairs to meet him. I will leave him nameless for the sake of discretion (can’t blog all the details)…all that you need to know is that the date went very well and that he is a good-looking, funny, and great guy.

When I got into the car, he told me that we were going to Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink in the Design District and I instantly lit up like a Christmas tree! I had been trying to get to Michael’s for several months now and it always seems to fall through, but tonight I was finally getting to go! He started earning brownie points with me from the very start.

We started off with a great bottle of red wine and then got to ordering our appetizers. He took control (which I gladly gave over) and ordered two different small plates for us to share. I always find it fun when someone else places the order because I get to try things that I wouldn’t normally pick off the menu for myself…and he picked something I wouldn’t order everCrispy Sweet and Spicy Pork Belly with kimchi, crushed peanuts, and pea shoots. I had never tried pork belly before, and thought I could live the rest of my life happily without ever doing so. I was wrong! I was still not sold on the idea of it when the plate came to the table, and I only put a tiny piece on my fork to try, but I was back for seconds and thirds after that little nibble. The pork belly was cooked to perfection with a nice crispy exterior and a softer—but not fatty tasting—interior. I thought I was going to hate the texture because I gag on fatty parts of steak, but it really didn’t taste like that at all. The flavor was absolutely incredible with a tangy-sweet glaze that was complimented by all of the other elements on the plate. The kimchi was great and the peanuts added a nice crunch to the soft interior texture of the pork belly. This is the must order appetizer from Michael’s in my opinion and I thought it was the star of our entire meal.

Crispy Sweet and Salty Porkbelly with Kimchi, Peanuts, and Pea Shoots

The second appetizer that we got the Local Heirloom Tomato and Avocado Salad with red onion, celery, and meyer lemon vinaigrette. This was really delicious because all the produce was fresh and ripe, but it was far outshined by the pork belly. Greasy and fatty always trumps healthy and light.

As an entrée, I ordered the Pan Roasted ½ “Poulet Rouge” Chicken with roasted garlic mashed potatoes and escarole. This was my attempt at ordering light…yes, you can laugh at that. The chicken was well flavored with herbs, but there wasn’t enough white meat for my liking. I wanted to keep eating more because the flavor was so good but once the white meat was all gone, I gave it up. The mashed potatoes were among the best that I have ever had. The garlic flavor wasn’t very pronounced but the texture was spot on—super creamy yet still a firm consistency. The escarole, which I was hesitant about, turned out to be fabulous. I have never enjoyed cooked out escarole before (only in soups), but Michael’s flavored it so well that it tasted better than sautéed spinach. It was fabulous and I put a little on the fork with every bite.

1/2 Roasted Chicken

My date ordered a Wood Oven Pizza with bacon, arugala, caramelized onions, and fresh mozzarella. It looked very good, although I did not taste it. I am pretty sure that Michael’s switches up their pizza on a regular basis, so this might not be on the menu when you go, but the pizza looked great. Ohh, and for a side dish we ordered the Brussels Sprouts cooked with Pancetta and served with a Lemon Aioli. These brussel sprouts were out of this world. I was actually moaning over them and felt bad because I definitely wasn’t doing an even share on them. The pancetta added a wonderful smoky flavor and the citrus from lemon aioli helped to cut the fat of the pancetta. Everything just paired together beautifully, and I would certainly suggest ordering these al la carte any menu item.

Brussels Sprouts cooked with Pancetta and served with Lemon Aioli Dipping Sauce

Instead of ordering dessert at Michael’s, we decided that a change of scenery would be nice and so we headed to the Grove for something sweet at Jaguar. We ordered the Bread Pudding 3 Leches, which is a classic bread pudding and moist tres leches with a hint of cinnamon, a splash of rum, and caramelized carrots on the top. It was out of this world! I thought it tasted like a carrot cake combined with bread pudding and I was in heaven. I do hear that Michael’s has some of the best desserts, however, and so I would like to order one next time!


Filed under Miami Restaurants

Perricone’s Marketplace and Cafe ***

Baked Brie En Croute with Apricot Glaze and Slivered Almonds Served with Fresh Fruit and Crackers

15 SE 10th Street (at South Miami Ave)
Miami, Fl 33131


The whole Miami club scene is great, but it is certainly not conducive to catching up with your best friend that you haven’t seen in a while. Of course, it is also not conducive to many other things either, such as; relationships, a sober productive lifestyle, maintaining good grades in college, and having your voice in the morning…but it’s fun and so we willingly sacrifice these things. But after showing Jen the whole South Beach spectacle on Friday night, I really just wanted to spend Saturday somewhere low-key where we could actually talk…without yelling over house music and getting elbowed by fist pumping DJ groupies!

I figured that Brickell would probably be the best spot to grab dinner and then drinks, since everything is within walking distance and knowing Jen’s love for seafood pasta, I decided to go the Italian route. Il Gabbianno is my favorite Italian restaurant in Brickell (and so far in Miami for that matter), but after all the shopping we did during the day, we decided to go for a slightly cheaper option (aka more money for drinks afterwards!). Perricone’s in Brickell is both a restaurant and an Italian market. It looks tiny from the front, but don’t be fooled because once you walk through the market, the entire back opens up to an enormous outdoor seating area. It is half enclosed, but the ceiling opens up for just the right amount of fresh air!

I love Perricones because it isn’t stuffy…it’s causal and delicious Italian for an affordable price. If you’re wondering why I only give it three stars then, allow me to explain. Perricone’s is good, and the atmosphere is nice, and the price is reasonable, but the food is very basic and uninspired and the red sauce is very inconsistent. I always enjoy my meal, but never really feel like it is exceptional. I do give Perricone’s three stars though because it is a pleasant dinning experience and they have the most incredible Baked Brie En Croute Appetizer, which is an entire wheel of brie baked in puff pastry with a warm apricot glaze and slivered almonds, served with fresh fruit and precious heart-shaped crackers. It is really fabulous and a must have for the table to share. Even when no one will share with me, I order it as an entrée for myself because it is the best thing that I have had there yet. Of course, this is very difficult to mess up, considering how easy it is to make (see my recipe if you want to try!), but it is still delicious and nice to have someone do the work for you. The heart shaped crackers are so cute too!

As expected, Jen ordered the Seafood Linguine in Fresh Scampi Sauce, with sautéed gulf shrimp, scallops, muscles, and calamarie for her entrée. The sauce was really nice and the seafood was generous, she loved it! I was just jealous because her dish came out piping hot, and my Chicken Parmesan with Penne Pomodoro was only luke-warm, at best. The temperature of my food is one thing that I am very, very fussy about (I hate food to go because it’s not hot enough, and I microwave my dishes to get them hot before putting food on them) so this was a problem for me. But they gladly took it back and warmed it up, in addition to taking it off the bill. I was glad they did too, because even after they made it hot, I still wasn’t thrilled with the dish. The piece of chicken was really thick, resembling a chicken breast more than a chicken cutlet. I tend to like my chicken parmesan pounded out real thin so that the bread crumbs flavor every bite. Also, the red sauce tasted kind of smoky. I’m not sure if it was burnt or if they used liquid smoke to flavor the sauce, but I wasn’t a fan.

When I go back to Perricone’s again, I am going to stick to the baked brie appetizer and order one of their salads as an entrée, which seemed to be a very popular trend there. Overall, I like Perricone’s but it’s not the place I would send someone wanting an amazing Italian meal. It’s definitely good (no Olive Garden for sure), but I am hard on it because a) I am Italian and b) there are so many other fabulous Italian restaurants in Miami to choose from. Although I have not done blog posts on all of them, I suggest (starting with my favorite): Il Gabbiano (Brickell), Scarpetta (Sobe), La Loggia (Downtown), Joeys (Wynwood), Prime Italian (Sobe), and I hear that Café Abbrachi (Coral Gables) is also fabulous and it is on my to-try list!

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Sir Pizza ***

Sir Pizza Veggie Pizza with a Side of Ranch

4231 South Le June Blvd
Miami, Fl 33146


There is something about drinking alcohol that makes me want, or shall I say need, to eat salty, greasy, cheesy food. And since I’m usually waiting in a line 20 cars deep for my Taco Bell on a Friday night, I know I am not alone in experiencing this strange phenomenon. After four years of college, I am led to believe that there is a direct correlation between alcohol consumption and uncontrollable raging hunger. And I am furthermore convinced that drunk hungry is the highest form of hunger that exists. You crave things that normally repulse you (ever seen that Taco Bell meat sober?), and you eat portions of food that could probably feed a family of at least four (fast food bills topping $20 are not okay, considering that each item is around $1…as a general rule of thumb, you should never consume more than $5 of fast food in one sitting).

Now, I had recently managed to curtail my drunk eating habits, not by choice, but because the line at the Taco Bell near my house literally got too long to wait in a cab for. Drunken college students take forever deciding what to order, and that meter just keeps on ticking away. I didn’t have the time, money, or patience for my fast food indulgence, so for several weeks I went to bed with the spins and a growling belly….miserable combination. Then I discovered—drumroll, please—Sir Pizza, which is open until 2 am and regrettably located within 50 feet of my apartment. I say regrettably, because now the only thing on my mind at the end of the night is gooey, cheesy, totally bad for me, and conveniently located at my doorstep. I have to actually smell the fresh pizza cooking on my way from the cab to my apartment. It is a sick joke…like dangling cake in front of a fat kid. Consequently (and as expected), I have ended the past three nights shoving Sir Pizza to my face. My favorite thing to order (aka the only thing to order) is the Large Veggie Pizza with a side of Ranch. The side of ranch is crucial, because Sir Pizza has a little bit of a sweeter tomato sauce (which I don’t like) and the ranch helps cut that sweetness. So yes, you are dipping the entire slice—not just the crust—into the ranch. Ohh, and the greatest part about Sir Pizza is that there really is no crust, because the toppings go all the way to the edge of the pie. I personally, never eat my crust, so this just maximizes the amount of pizza I can eat! The veggies on the pizza include; black olives, green pepper, Spanish onions, mushrooms, and tomatoes. If you can’t find someone to share the pizza with you, it is also available in a smaller 10-inch size…but I say, go big or go home!

My favorite part about the pizza is that it is cut into little squares. Each square is about 3 bites worth of pizza, so you can guiltlessly enjoy several slices (it also makes the pizza much easier to handle…especially when drunk!). Jen and I woke up every morning this weekend with a Sir Pizza box on the nightstand, and I must admit that it is a refreshing change from Taco Bell. My stomach and my clothes both appreciate the break from the ravages of Fire Hot Sauce.

Ohh, and if you’re too drunk to do anything but eat, don’t worry, because Sir Pizza does delivery! I must shamefully admit that there have been occasions when I have paid to have my pizza delivered the whole 50 feet across the parking lot to my apartment. There is nothing better than having your indulgent drunk feast brought to you, while you lay in bed!

All that is left of Sir Pizza 20 minutes later!


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Jaguar *****

Cerviche Spoons – Oriental and Vuelve A La Vida

3067 Grand Ave
Miami, Fl 33133


This weekend, my bff/future maid-of-honor/love of my life, Jennifer Rose Siegel, finally made her way down to Miami to come and visit me! She has been my best friend since I can remember and throughout high school we were inseparable…ying and yang style (to this day still completing each others sentences!). During her stay, I had the exciting, and yet somewhat overwhelming, task of showing her around the glamorous 305. Now I know that I shouldn’t have been stressing over what to do, but since it was her first time here, I really wanted to show her everything. The hard part was trying to do everything in just 2 days!!! It simply isn’t possible. Between the restaurants, the nightlife, the beach, the weather, and the shopping…it’s just too much! So I had to narrow it down and plan an abbreviated agenda for two short days, factoring in hang over recovery time, mealtime, and beach time. This is far easier said than done, and anyone who lives in Miami and frequently has visitors can agree.

When she arrived on Friday evening, we wasted no time and headed straight to Monty’s for some happy hour cocktails. But after experiencing her first PK-3, Jen decided it would be a good idea to get some food before drinking anymore. Since I wanted to stay in the area, we stumbled our way on over to Jaguar in the Grove for some grub. Jaguar is a fabulous little Peruvian restaurant that has outdoor seating and a complete bar, with the best (and strongest) Red Sangria. You can get it by the glass or the pitcher, all that matters is that you get it! The fruit is soaked in brandy and the drink is strong but not too sweet. It is perfection. We started off with a glass, and also ordered the drink special of the day, which was a Cilantro Margarita. The margarita was alright, but the cilantro was definitely a tad weird and certainly overpowering.

Glass of Red Sangria and Cilantro Margarita

For an appetizer, I ordered some ceviche spoons, which Jaguar is especially known for. You can order spoons individually for $2 a pop or get a sampler of 6 (1 of each) for $12. I order individually, since I now have my favorites which are; (1) the Ceviche Oriental with tuna, ginger, soy, jalapenos, shallots, cilantro, lime, grape seed oil, avocado, cucumber, and sesame seeds, and (2) the Ceviche Vuelve A La Vida with swordfish, shrimp, calamari, tomato, lime, orange, onion, cilantro, habanero chile, and avocado. The oriental is an incredible explosion of flavor that is very light, wheras the Vuelve A La Vida is a little heavier because it comes in a tomato-based sauce. I love both equally, and Jen did too.

Ceviche Sampler Spoons

For my entrée, I ordered my usual—the Celia’s Chopped Salad with Grilled Chicken, which is a bed of iceberg and romaine lettuce topped with jalapenos, avocado, peppers, corn, black beans, tomato, cilantro, and crispy tortillas tossed in a black bean vinaigrette. Words cannot possibly describe how delicious this salad is! The dressing is light yet full of flavor, and not overpowered by the cilantro. The chicken is all white meat and grilled to perfection, sliced down nice and thin on top of the salad. The crispy tortilla strips add a perfect amount of crunch and there aren’t too many, so each one is a savory bite. The avocado is always ripe and adds a great creamy contrast to the crunch of the romaine lettuce. Best part though is that this salad is also available in a half portion for days when you’re not starving or want to have an appetizer first (the photograph is of a ½ portion).

Celia’s Chopped Salad with Grilled Chicken, Avocado, Black Beans, Corn, Tomatoes, Jalapenos, and Crispy Tortillas tossed in Black Bean Vinaigrette

Jen ordered the Shrimp Tacos cooked with achiote pepper and served with fresh handmade tortillas, salsa verde, and pineapple salsa. I did not try these, but Jen thought that they were great and cleared the entire plate. They looked fabulous, and if I was more into shrimp, then I might have ordered them myself. I prefer the Crispy Blue Corn Chicken Tacos with roasted salsa verde, sour cream, and guacamole.

Shrimp Tacos with Handmade Tortillas and Rice and Black Beans


On other occasions, I have also had the Swordfish “A Lo Macho,” which is a combination of swordfish with shrimps and calamari finished in aji Amarillo sauce with saffron, brandy, and pernod, served on a bed of delicate white rice. This is by far the most incredible dish on the menu at Jaguar, and it is the dish that made me fall in love with swordfish. The sauce is creamy, dreamy, and just the right amount of sweet. It is honestly good enough to tempt you to lick the plate clean. I rarely enjoy seafood dishes, and this one is just to die for.

I also enjoy the Chicken and Three Cheese Quesadillas with Chihuahua, parmesan, and manchego cheeses, poblano chiles, corn, zucchini, and grilled chicken served with pico de gallo, sour cream, and guacamole. This makes a great lunch or even appetizer to share among the table. The cheese combination is divine and they are pretty much just fun to eat because I am a huge fan of finger food.

Although I rarely eat dessert, I did save recently save some room to satisfy my sweet tooth and ordered the Bread Pudding 3 Leches, which is a classic bread pudding with a moist tres leches, hint of cinnamon, splash of rum, and caramelized carrot topping. Mmmmmm…..it was as if a carrot cake mated with bread pudding and this was their love child that got the best attributes of each. It was super moist like bread pudding, but not too sweet like carrot cake. It had just the right balance of spicy and sweet, and the cinnamon was pronounced overdone. I absolutely loved this dessert and would definitely save room for it again!

Overall, Jaguar is the spot to be. It has outdoor seating that is ideal for people watching, as well as basking in nice weather. And the inside is equally as beautiful with artwork and bold colors adorning the walls. The servers are attentive and fast, and the wait for a table is never too long. The owner is also always around and makes sure that everyone is satisfied. The one and only time that I had to wait a rather long time for a table, the owner comp-ed us our pitcher of sangria and thus we left happy…happy and drunk! Ohhh, and one pitcher of Sangria will get you drunk. I did not know this the first time, and ended up having to take a cab home from my 7 O’clock dinner because I was too drunk to drive!

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Db Bistro Moderne *****

The Original Db Bistro Burger – sirloin burger stuffed with braised short ribs and foie gras served on a parmesan bun

255 Biscayne Blvd Way
Miami, Fl 33131


Chef Daniel Boulud hails from Lyon, France and has opened an abundance of award winning restaurants in cities such as New York, Beijing, Vancouver, West Palm, and finally, Miami. His soulful dishes, inspired by traditional French cooking, are beautiful to look at and quite an indulgence to taste. Every detail in his restaurant is carried out to perfection—from the décor, to the to plate aesthetics, to the food flavors.

Db Bistro Moderne, which opened back in February of last year in the JW Marriott (downtown Miami) has a rich elegance that is incomparable. When my friend, Brooks, asked me to get some dinner with him there I could hardly wait. I spent the hour prior to going on my phone reading over the menu…again, and again, and again. I was salivating at the mere descriptions of the food, which were so detailed you could almost imagine the taste. I think that a lot of restaurants make the mistake of not describing their menu items in enough detail, but this is certainly not the case at Db Bistro! Here, if it is on the plate, then it is in the description.

Despite having poured over the menu for almost an hour, I still found it hard to make my final selection once at the restaurant. So I did what I often do, and asked the waiter to name the five most popular menu items. Without hesitation (no “depends on what you’re in the mood for” bullshit), he lists off his favorite five dishes. And when I asked about the beef bourguignon, which I was tempted to order, he was astonishingly honest and told me that there were better things to try. So I ordered my meal based on his suggestions, had not one regret! To start, I tried the Tomato Tarte Tatin which is puff pastry with tomato confit, herbed goat cheese, frisee, atop a swirl of basil pesto sauce. Although the combination of the cheese and puff pastry sounds a bit heavy, the dish actually came off surprisingly light. The dough was flaky and buttery…just kind of crumbled when poked with the fork, and the cheese was creamy and flavorful. I had originally been expecting freshly sliced tomatoes with the tarte, but when it was brought out I noticed that it was actually like stewed tomatoes (almost looked like a red sauce, with roasted tomato slices). Actually, when all of the elements combined in my mouth it tasted like a super gourmet pizza. The most interesting element on the plate, however, was the basil pesto. I took the pesto for granted as a garnish when I first saw the dish, but once I got a little taste, I couldn’t seem to get enough. The pesto is very thin and almost looks watered-down, but the strength of flavor is unexpected and incredible. Such a miniscule element, but it really pulls the whole plate together.

Tomato Tarte Tatin – puff pastry with tomato confit, herbed goat cheese, frisee, atop a swirl of basil pesto sauce.

Brooks had the Tuna Crudo with harissa-sesame sauce, cucumber radish, and crispy rice. Again, every element of the plate had a punch of flavor that lended itself well with the others. The tuna was prepared in small one-inch cubes and a total of 6 or 8 were served on the plate. I tried one, and the flavors just exploded in my mouth. I had really expected it to taste dull like tuna sashimi, but what a pleasant surprise. This is certainly a place where you eat the garnish!! Daniel doesn’t put anything on the plate that doesn’t enhance or compliment the food. There is no senseless parsley garnish or pickle to be wasted here. Every element of the dish is meticulously planned and the layers of flavor just build and build.

As my main entrée, I ordered The Orignal Db Burger, which is a sirloin burger stuffed with braised short ribs and foie gras served on a parmesan bun accompanied by a small pale of pomme frites. And, I think that’s about all I need to say! I mean, beef + short ribs + foie gras (all in one bite) = sheer bliss. The only way that this burger could have possibly gotten any better is if it was void of calories. But since this is impossible, it was utter perfection. I have never experienced a burger like this, and I really don’t think I would even call it a burger because it is just on another level. Obviously, I crushed the entire thing…much to Brook’s disappointment I think, because I sensed he was feigning for a few more bites (I’m not generous with sharing food I love)! His dish—the tasting of Lamb which included roasted loin, merguez, sweet and sour eggplant couscous, croquette, sheeps milk yogurt, and lamb jus—was also very good, but didn’t hold a candle to my divine burger. Also, the lamb was unfortunately a little over-cooked. The flavors were still great but definitely an apparent cooking error.

Tasting of Lamb – roasted loin, merguez, sweet and sour eggplant couscous, croquette, sheeps milk yogurt, and lamb jus

Just as I was tucking my now pregnant-looking belly down into the elastic waistband of my leggings, the server brought over the dessert menu. I was already stuffed beyond capacity, but each and every dessert taunted me…enticing my sweet tooth. Again, I asked the server what was best and finally agreed to let him just surprise us. He chose something that I wouldn’t have ordered for myself, but it was fabulous. It was tiny oatmeal raisin cookies, complimented by Jameson flavored ice cream and a dense chocolate mousse (it had the flavor of a mousse but did not have the air bubbles). Of course there was also homemade whipped cream and drizzled chocolate on top too! It was really refreshing and hit the spot with just a few spoonfuls. We also tried some of the Warm Madeleines, which were very light and had a terrific infusion of lemon flavor. They were topped with a generous sprinkling of powdered sugar and were small enough to just effortlessly pop into your mouth again, and again, and again.

Warm Madeleines Sprinkled with Powdered Sugar

Overall, the meal was fantastic and I think that I will forever have cravings for that orgasmic burger. I am better off for having experienced it in this lifetime.


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Filed under Miami Restaurants, New York Restaurants

The News Cafe ****

Bagel and Lox with Cream Cheese, Sliced Tomato, and Red Onion

800 Ocean Drive (at 8th St)
Miami Beach, Fl 33139


If you are visiting Miami, then the News Café is a must for at least one meal. Is it touristy? Yes. Is it slightly over-priced? Yes. Have you seen the Jersey Shore cast eating here on several episodes? Yes. But the food is good and the scene is ideal for people watching (may I remind you again that the Jersey Shore cast ate here). Now that I think about it, it’s actually the ultimate people watching spot. The tables are situated along the crowded sidewalk of Ocean Ave, and all the freaks know to put on a show around here for tourists. Regular sightings include: skinny white women with big fake tits and long blonde hair looking ridiculous in barely there bikinis and stripper heels, large groups of Asians wearing oversized safari hats with cameras hanging around their necks, “bling-ed” out black men pulling up in pimped out Cadillacs with 10-person entourages, elderly gay couples that look like something out of the movie The Bird Cage wearing visors and speedos,  and last but not least, some cracked out homeless people like this guy that my friend, Sam, and I witnessed over brunch today….

Spotted at News Cafe…lower back tattoo reads: “I bet You Won’t.” No further comment.

It is a hotspot for whack-jobs, so technically you’re getting “dinner and a show!” This two-in-one deal helps me justify the moderately steep prices, which are not completely outlandish, but certainly not a good value. Most of the restaurants on Ocean have ridiculous specials, such as free entrees with the purchase of an appetizer, ½ off the entire check, or two-for-one drink pitchers, but they aren’t nearly as good as the News Café. And don’t get me wrong, I LOVE a sale, but prepared food that is on sale scares me. I say splurge on News Café and you won’t be disappointed if you order smart. In my opinion, the breakfasts are reasonably priced (around $10) and the best thing to order. I like the Vegetable Omelet with sautéed spinach, red pepper, tomato, mushroom, onion and cheddar cheese, which is served with rye bread and your choice of home fried potatoes, fresh fruit, or pancakes. I order the fruit bowl (pictured below), but hear that the pancakes are delicious, light, and fluffy. The omelet is not too oily, and the eggs aren’t runny, which is a pet peeve of mine. It’s a generous portion too—I would estimate a 3 egg omelet. The  French Toast with Strawberries and Bananas is also very popular and delicious!

Side of Fresh Fruit served with Omelet

French Toast with Sliced Bananas and Strawberries

If you’re looking to do lunch, I highly recommend the Chicken Nachos, which are listed under the appetizers but large enough to be a meal. They are really delicious and the guacamole is creamy and great. I also like the Greek Salad with Chicken, which is tomato, red onion, pepper, and feta cheese on a bed of Romaine lettuce tossed in basil vinaigrette ($15). It is an enormous portion, but tastes light and fresh. Another great salad is the Sliced Tomato Salad with Fresh Mozzarella and Basil ($12). The tomatoes are always ripe, and the mozzarella is soft and creamy. Again, the portion is huge (see below) so I suggest this as an appetizer for the table.

Tomato and Mozzarella Salad with Basil

Another favorite dish of mine to share is the Mediterranean Sampler Plate, which includes hummus, babaganush, tabouli salad, stuffed grape leaves, kalamata olives, chopped tomato, and warm fresh pita bread. This plate is a-w-e-s-o-m-e! You can get it portioned for one or two, depending how hungry you are and how many people there are.

Mediterranean Platter (for one) with Tabouli, Babaganush, Tomato, Hummus, Kalamata Olives, and Stuffed Grape Leaves

Surprisingly, the pizzas at News Café are also really delicious. I am not the kind of person to order pizza just anywhere because I maintain the belief that a pizzeria is where one should go for pizza, but my friends have ordered the Chicken, Goat Cheese, Spinach, and Roasted Red Pepper Pizza ($15) in the past, and I undoubtedly swindle a slice. The only thing that I would stay away from really, are the pasta dishes. This is not an Italian restaurant and so the pastas are not gourmet. The tomato sauce is very watery and doesn’t really adhere to the noodles…it’s just not the thing to get at a café. On the other hand, I do really like the drinks at News Café. My dad and I once went late in the afternoon and got tipsy on specialty mojitos (such as mango, strawberry, and coconut) straight into the evening.

Overall, I’ve been living in Miami 4 years now, and the News Café is still my go to brunch spot after a morning spent tanning on the beach. I usually complain about the prices a little, but still voluntarily hand over my Visa to witness and be a part of the News Café scene. As long as you don’t try to customize your order too much—they will charge you for every add on and extra side—you can get away with a reasonable bill.

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Bagel Emporium ***

Poppy Seed Bagel Toasted with Cream Cheese

1238 South Dixie Highway
Coral Gables, Fl 33146


My New Year’s Eve can either be considered a huge success or miserable failure, depending on how you look at it. I certainly got my money’s worth at the open bar, but consequently ended up huddled over my garbage can in bed before 2 O’Clock. My roommate, Ariana, and her boyfriend sat at the end of my bed rubbing my feet and coaching me to drink water (great friends, I know). I managed to survive the evening, but felt like death when I woke up in the morning. Naturally, I figured that some food would cure me of all my ailments (head ache, stomach ache, throat ache, ect…)! Since I was still in no shape to drive, Ariana and her boyfriend, Harry, decided to go to breakfast with me (yes, still taking care of me 10 hours later!). We agreed upon Bagel Emporium. As we headed there, I sat in the backseat trying to strike up deals with God. You know, promising I would never drink again if only he would make my headache go away (we’ve all done it at some point or another!). Needless to say, he didn’t take me up on my offer—I think he knows better by now—and so I am writing this post over a nice glass of red wine!

Back to my review though! Bagel Emporium is a college hot spot located on US 1 across from the University of Miami campus. When you live in the dorms freshman year, you go to Charty’s (the campus dining hall) to recap your drunken escapades from the prior evening. When you live off campus, you go to Bagel Emporium (which is now more commonly referred to as just Bagel Emp by girls that feel the need to abbreviate every word in their vocabulary). I would say that about 70% of the diners at Bagel Emporium on any given weekend are UM students; 50% of which are hung-over, 10% which are still drunk, and the other 10% of which are some combination of the two and still in their clothes from the night before. Yes, bagel emporium is one of the few breakfast’s spots where you are guaranteed to see a girl in a mini-dress with 5-inch heels and eyeliner half down her face. And no, she did not just come from church…that micro-mini and those stripper heels are not exactly worship apparel. But, I am not passing judgment, as I have been that girl once or twice–its a writ of passage into womanhood, I think.

Bagel Emporium is so popular because the portions are huge and the prices are cheap (they also have the best bagels in Miami!). Furthermore, it is the only food place in South Florida that reminds me of home because it is like a Jewish Deli crossed with a diner, neither of which exist anywhere else in Miami. I like to start my meal off with a bowl of Matzo Ball Soup, which is prepared with their homemade chicken noodle soup and a singular large matzo ball. It is such comfort food—warm, salty, and delicious. I also oddly enjoy their French Onion Soup, which is not particularly gourmet but successfully satisfies a sodium craving! As my main dish, I usually order the Vegetable Omelet with Broccoli, Onions, Mushrooms, Peppers, and Tomatoes. I also add cheddar cheese to that, and all omelets can be made with egg whites for just a $1 additional charge. Each and every massive omelet is made with 4 eggs and served with your choice of grits or home fries or french fries or sliced tomatoes and toast or bagel or bialy with butter or cream cheese. So for just $7.95, I get a 4-egg omelet with home fries and an everything bagel toasted with cream cheese. It’s such a great value. I don’t really like the home fries very much because they are oily and lacking in flavor, but the bagels are absolutely incredible! Just make sure that you request for your omelet to be cooked well-done because they often undercook them, resulting in runny eggs. Ewe!

I would recommend ordering breakfast at Bagel Emporium, but I have also enjoyed their Greek Salad with Romaine Lettuce, Feta Cheese, Kalamata Olives, Boiled Egg, Cucumber, Pepperoncini, Red Onion, and Tomato. The food is not gourmet, so keep it basic and order diner classics like salads, and reuben sandwiches, and bagels. The Sweet Potato Fries are notably good, and served with a ranch dipping sauce.

Overall, I like Bagel Emporium primarily because it is classic college spot serving massive amounts of food for cheap. I think that Greenstreet in Coconut Grove has a way better omelet (and the most incredible home fries) for a comparable price, and I would recommend it for a more gourmet breakfast seeker. However, Bagel Emporium has a larger menu selection, much better bagels, and larger portions. So it really depends what you’re looking for.

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Le Royal Bakery *****

Raspberry Fruit Tart with Custard Cream

7370 SW 57th Ave
South Miami, 33143


For as much as I love baking and for as often as I do it, it’s surprising that I am not really a “dessert person.” I enjoy desserts every now and then, but I never deliberately leave room for them when enjoying a meal out. I would way rather eat more steak than save myself for a brownie a la mode. So on the rare occasions when I do have dessert, I usually make a meal of it…going out specifically for that dessert. And who does desert better than the French?


So I set out to find some French bakeries in the Miami area, and after trying several different ones, I believe that I might have finally found the best. It is called Le Royal Bakery and it is located in a little shopping center near Sunset Shops. I stumbled upon this little gem while walking back to my car after having lunch at a French restaurant that is in the same shopping center (Café Pastis, which is a-m-a-z-i-n-g). Since I had just eaten, I wasn’t hungry when I walked by Le Royal Bakery, but I got one glimpse of the croissants and my feet involuntarily carried me inside. The inside is nothing fancy, but the display case is quite impressive. There are like 6 different types of croissants and 10 different varieties of fruit tarts daily. Of course this is in addition to the abundant assortment of breads, brownies, cakes, danishes, and cookies. I love the Almond Croissant and the Cream Cheese Croissant. The almond paste and cream cheese help keep the inside of the croissant moist, while the outside is soft and flakey. The Plain Croissant is also very good and buttery, and I love to drizzle a little honey and raspberry preserves over top of it when I eat it. I go for a croissant and coffee here about 1-2 a week in between my classes! They are very addicting and oh so cheap! I always feel like I’m getting ripped off at French restaurants because the food is usually so over-price (as if something expensive is intrinsically delicious), but this no frills bakery has cheap, not modest, but cheap prices! A specialty croissant is just $2.50. But beware, although they accept credit cards, there is a $10 purchase minimum, and this equates to a lot of treats there so bring cash! I learned the hard way (aka delicious way) on my first visit and ended up purchasing like 3 croissants, 2 fruit tarts, and a macaroon. I never bring cash and just use it as an excuse to treat myself to indulgent pastries. Out of the tarts, I have tried the Raspberry Custard Tart, which is a buttery piecrust filled with custard and topped with fresh raspberries. Oh my goodness is it good! Its actually an experience. This is not something you eat with one hand as your driving in your car, this is something you sit down and devote a blissful 5 minutes to eating. You need to fully enjoy the experience of this dessert. I have also tried the Blueberry Tart, which has an almond cream filling, but I thought the Strawberry one was better and this is surprising given my love for almond flavoring. The Macaroons are also incredible, and traditional French style.

Apparently, they also serve sandwiches for lunch that cost only $5.50. I have never had one, but I hope to try one soon! You must try this place for yourself!

Chocolate Croissant

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