Yup, its Miami Spice month again and I think Im going to try and take advantage of it better this year. I say that every year and it never really happens but, hey, the intention is there. Friday night, I took my first Miami Spice trip of the season.
I met up with a group over at Table 8 inside the Reagent on South Beach. I was there late and I hate being late. But fortunately this is Miami and I ended up being the first one there. We had a rez for 9pm but had agreed to meet around8-830 for a cocktail at the bar. The bar was pretty cool. Its set more on the Ocean Drive side of the building and its kinda like an inside/outside bar. You get the breeze and sounds of being outside but youre under the cover of the building. Theyve got huge fans that blow all over the place and keep it cool, and for the ladies who wonder what this might do to your hairdo, they will gladly redirect as requested. I asked a female bartender what types of bourbons they carried and was set to order a Woodford on the rocks when the other bartender mentioned that they also had Blantons, which has a nice kick to it with a semi-smooth caramel-like flavor. Typical of South Beach, this drink cost me a cool $18 with tip included. I didnt care because I already had a buzz going and Im pretty much numb to the South Beach tax at this point. I even gave them an extra tip by dropping some bourbon knowledge on 'em. Each bottle of Blantons has a killer cork that has a Derby horse and rider figurine on top of it. Near the foot is a little circle with a letter that is either a B, L, A, N, T, O, or S. If you put them all side by side and spell BLANTONS it looks like the horse is running the race.
Everyone finally arrived and we were seated in a comfortable booth. The waiter came and passed out both regular and Miami Spice menus and I ordered a bottle of red wine for the table ('03 Latour Noir). He returned with bread, water, and wine which was quite biblical. We all decided on the spice menu. Earlier in the day, I had asked some fellow food bloggers what a "Warm Boucheron" consisted of so it made me look all smart when I was the only one who knew what it was. So, thanks for that. Anyways, I ordered the warm boucheron and really enjoyed it. The warm smoked goat cheese was served with some tasty avocado and a balsamic roasted onion which I actually liked too and I am not an onion fan at all. One person had the soup and said it was excellent while another got the salad and found it to be nothing special.
For entrees, nearly everyone ordered the skirt steak with avocado gremotala and crispy plantains. One person ordered the olive oil poached salmon. I thought about the chicken, but I had seen a pic of it earlier on the website and didnt find it appetizing so my mind was made up. The steak was cooked to a nice medium rare as ordered and the sauce and plantains were a nice addition. It didnt blow me away, but it didnt leave me wanting more either. I had a bite of the salmon dish and found it to be cooked well but I thought it couldve used a bit more flavor to it.
Now, Im not usually a dessert person. Maybe I'll do an occasional creme brulee but thats rare. WIth Miami Spice, I'll usually give it a shot. This time it was the best item of the night. I had the vanilla panna cotta, which is sorta like creme brulee without the ramekin but more pudding-like in texture/flavor. It was served with a not-too-sweet raspberry sauce that tasted great with the vanilla. I couldve had about 3 more of these and still wanted one more.
All in all, I thought the experience was pretty good but nothing wowed me and made me want to come back again sometime soon. It was, well, good. With all the options these days, good doesnt really cut it anymore. It is nice to know that you can get a solid meal there though, and the atmosphere is pretty cool. Id recommend giving it a try though. We all have different tastes. Not quite sure about the value though. I got out of there for about $70 which included my meal, portion of the wine bottle ($60/4 people), tax and 18% tip which was added on.
I will likely go to the bar again sometime though. In fact, I went to check out the free Common/Erykah Badu concert across the way on the following night and had a girl say to me, "Hey you were at my bar last night!" I didnt recognize her and was trying to remember what the hell I did on the previous night (I had been drinking on the beach all day at this point) when she said, "You were drinking Blanton's and told me about the horse race..." Now thats a good bartender!