Sunday, May 25, 2008

Restaurant Review: George's in the Grove, Coconut Grove

Well, this will be less of a review and more of a rundown of the food and experience Ive had at George's in the Grove on my first 2 visits. Ive been there twice and Ive yet to order an entree. This is for 2 reasons. First, for some reason the 2 times Ive been I wasnt super hungry. Second, the apps are HUGE. Here is a quick rundown of what Ive had there. Bear with me because Im long-winded :)

Tuna Tartar - this French version uses creme fraiche in the mix along with some chives. The pile o' tartar was enormous and came with a little side of greens w/ balsamic. I could only finish 1/2 of it. This was my least favorite dish to date because the creme fraiche left it tasting really bland. Needed some spice of some sort. I mentioned that to one of the managers there when he asked my opinion and he said it was valid point. You could easily split this dish between 2 people and be fully satisfied portion-wise.

Mediterranean Vegetable Salad w/ Lobster & Truffle Oil - This dish was surprisingly awesome. I was surprised because usually when you think salad you think "greens of some sort w/ veggies on top". This one was ALL VEGGIES. Julienne carrot, zucchini, squash, and cauliflower all mixed together and topped with Maine lobster - both claw and tail. Although the menu said "truffle oil" mine tasted more lemony, like the veggies had been marinated a little bit. They still were very crisp and fresh. The dish was light and really hit the spot after the tartar, plus I got more than my daily intake of veggies. This could be split between 2 people as well.

Caprese Salad - its called something else on the menu but its basically a tower of caprese. This was really good as well. The orange and red tomato and the mozzarella are stacked thin with nice pieces of basil in there as well. The dish is drizzled w/ EVOO and a little balsamic. I believe there was a little pesto action goin on there too. Looks pretty and again comes w/ a side of greens w/ balsamic. Another one that you could split between 2 as this nearly filled me up on its own.

Sauteed baby artichoke and shittake mushroom salad - I think this is the name of it anyways... This salad was a winner too but I was a little disappointed that the shittake mushrooms never made it to the dance. Instead, however, was a nice portion of thinly sliced pancetta (or some similar cured pork) and the best way to make up something to me is to provide something along the lines of bacon. Pine nuts were there, cherry tomatoes, and a light drizzle of balsamic dressing.

Also, the 1st night I was there they gave me a free slice of pizza. It had creme fraiche for the sauce and was topped w/ lox (or was it nova?) and capers. Strange but it was actually really good. The warm dough mixed with the cool, salty lox and capers and smooth creme fraiche worked well.

Another reason to check this place out - George himself. The guy is a good guy, funny, and likes to make customers feel special. I knew him from the Le Bouchon days and told him he probably didnt remember me but he would most likely remember the ladies I brought to his old haunt and that got a good laugh. They give free glasses of champagne (at least everyone Ive seen in the place has got one) and George is constantly hustling around, whistling like a songbird to get his staff's attention, and shouting things in French. Really makes you feel like youre out of Miami. I was actually their 1st customer which was pretty funny when they made a big announcement as I paid my bill. Also, I was there the night before last and had dinner with Maurice Cheeks, the coach of the Philly 76ers who just bought a place in the Grove. We chatted about a variety of stuff and he was a pretty cool guy and really likes the area. Mo really enjoyed the salmon he ordered although the goat cheese terrine that George gave him for free was out of his tasting zone. Just not a goat cheese fan. He did enjoy George's whistling and running around and said if anything he would come back just because of that haha.

Definitely give it a shot. The Grove needs the business and I cant afford to lose another quality restaurant in my 'hood!

George's in the Grove
3145 Commodore Plaza
Miami, FL