Florida Dining: Zuma

May 11, 2013

270 Biscayne Boulevard Way
Miami, FL (Located in the Epic Hotel)
(305) 577-0277

Web Site: http://www.zumarestaurant.com/zuma-landing/miami/en/welcome

Since I’ve moved down to South Florida I have been concentrating more on the “ethnic eats” rather than the fine dining aspect of food blogging. But as I’ve been having more and more business meetings in Miami, I’m starting to get exposed more towards the high-end cuisine offerings here.

I recently had the opportunity to dine at Zuma, which bills itself as “modern Japanese”. Zuma is part of the Azumi restaurant group, which has branches of Zuma in different parts of the world, including London, Hong Hong, Istanbul, Dubai, Miami and Bangkok.

My understanding is that the original Zuma restaurant in London was a partnership of two very wealthy Indian businessmen who had dined at the London branch of Nobu and decided that they could create a similar concept restaurant on their own. Certainly Zuma is very “Nobu-esque” in its menu format (including the miso black cod that every high-end Japanese restaurant seems to copy from Nobu these days) and also overall presentation.

I will also state I have no idea what anything at this restaurant costs. I was treated to lunch here by a very generous client, and I never saw any prices because I never looked at the menu, someone else did the ordering, and the online menu has no prices either. So if your interest is piqued in dining here, just take that into consideration.

The bar area of the Miami outpost of Zuma. This is one of the few dining room photos I was able to take, as the management got quite annoyed with me after observing me just taking a few casual shots of the general dining area and told me to put my camera away.

Nobu too rich for your blood? Well, so is this. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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Florida Dining: Versailles

May 10, 2013

Versailles Restaurant
3555 SW 8th St Miami, FL 33135
(305) 444-0240

Web Site: http://www.versaillesrestaurant.com

Full-size photo gallery available on Flickr

If there’s one iconic Cuban restaurant in Miami, and if you ask anyone where the center of activity is for food on Calle Ocho past 9PM, then that place is Versailles.

Like the French palace from which it gets its name, Versailles is a HUGE restaurant. On weekends and in prime dining hours the place gets absolutely packed with people, including large number of out of towners looking for authentic Cuban food.

This is where Cuban food gets real in Miami. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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Florida Dining: El Rey De Las Fritas

May 8, 2013

El Rey De Las Fritas
Multiple locations in Miami

Web Site (Google+)

Twitter: @reydelasfritas

El Rey De Las Fritas has been a Miami favorite of mine ever since I started this blog back in early 2006. The Cuban-style  family owned and operated burger micro-chain (they have 4 locations in the Miami-area) has recently been profiled on George Motz’s Burger Land on the Travel Channel, and business has been a boomin’.

I recently visited the Calle Ocho location, and brought along my iPhone 5 to take some new photos. Here’s a consolidation of all my visits since 2006. Enjoy.

Miami Calle Ocho Storefront, late at night.

Calle Ocho dining room

The Bird Street location of El Rey De Las Fritas. Note that it has a walk up window, where you can get all kinds of empanadas and croquetas, plus cortaditos and cafecitos, Cuban coffee. Forget Starbucks when you are in Little Havana!

Prepare for burgers, Cuban-style. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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Las Vegas Dining: Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino

April 14, 2013

This week, I had the pleasure of attending the 2013 Microsoft Management Summit, which was held at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

Mandalay Bay, like many of the casino resorts in town, is utterly gigantic. It’s a shopping mall and entertainment complex that has a wide variety of on-resort dining options. If you’re vacationing there or are attending a conference in their convention center, there’s really no reason to leave the complex. In fact, once I arrived, I never left until I had to go home. Which I guess is the idea.

Because I was only there for 3 days, I only got to experience a small smattering of what was available. But oh what a smattering it was.

You can really eat well at Mandalay Bay. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link for more.

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The Joy of Passover Rolls

March 28, 2013

The Passover Roll, as seen above accompanying matzo ball soup, is a bit of a culinary enigma. Prior to having seders with my wife’s family, I had never encountered them before.

My family (admittedly reform Jews) on both sides traditionally would have matzohs during seder, and the kugels, and of course the matzo ball soup. But the idea of having ersatz bread or rolls during Passover was a bit alien to me, and questionably pesadich.

I mean, the whole point is that you are not supposed to eat bread during Passover, right? You’re supposed to want for it.

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Florida Dining: Yardbird

March 16, 2013

Yardbird Southern Table & Bar
1600 Lenox Avenue
Miami Beach, Florida

Web Site: http://runchickenrun.com

Since moving to South Florida in July of 2012, I haven’t really done much with investigating the local fine dining scene. My food blogging activities have been more or less curtailed by my new job, and also by focusing more on technology writing.

But now that things have become a bit less crazy, I’m easing myself back into the food blogger seat again.

There was no better opportunity to do this than with a recent business lunch I had with two like-minded foodie colleagues, who suggested we meet at Yardbird, a modern Southern restaurant in South Beach.

Yardbird, which was a 2012 James Beard Award Semi-Finalist for Best New Restaurant, and was named one of the 50 Best New Restaurants in 2012 at Bon Appetit Magazine, is definitely a destination for anyone looking to indulge in updated, classic Southern American fare.

I would compare Yardbird favorably to places like the very excellent JCT Kitchen in Atlanta, as well as any number of well-known “New South” type places in New Orleans, such as Luke.

The main dining room at Yardbird is bright and warm, mixing southern hospitality with Miami chic.

It’s time to head to South Beach for the winter. Be sure to check out Yardbird. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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Son of Burger Mountain

January 26, 2013

I love my new home in South Florida. The weather is awesome, the lifestyle is fantastic and even the food is good. But I do really miss my friends.

Being 1,300 miles apart from all my friends in Jersey has been rough, particularly being away from those who I have shared my best foodie memories with.

One of those folks who has been in my thoughts a lot lately is my friend Christine Nunn, who recently had to close her restaurant, Picnic, as another casualty of the usual economic malaise hitting everyone nowadays. Christine has instead chosen to focus on her catering business, which is still doing well.

While Picnic got incredible reviews, and the food was utterly phenomenal the financials of the place did not work out. Sometimes this happens when restaurants get too ambitious, and indeed this was without question one of the most ambitious restaurants I had ever seen in New Jersey.

Picnic was a wonderful place while it lasted, and I considered it the best restaurant in all of Bergen County. I was extremely privileged to be able to document the start-up of the restaurant and to come in for periodic visits, and get access to the kitchen where I  probably shot the best food photos I’ve ever taken in my entire life.

Today while I was out shopping, I thought about Christine, her restaurant and all the good times we had.

While I was in the midst of my thought processes, I got the whiff of grilled beef, probably wafting out of a fast food restaurant near the supermarket. Hamburgers. Oh God, I wanted a hamburger, right then, right now.

The smell of burgers kicked off a taste memory in my synapses.

And then I remembered the Hamburger that was meant to end all hamburgers, the Burger Mountain. I’ve had posts about all sorts of hamburgers on Off the Broiler over the years, but none got anywhere near as much attention as that thing that Christine created.

People were emailing me (and Christine) from all over the world where they could get one, and where it was served.

The thing is, we only did that burger once, as a total goof. At her restaurant, a less complicated version was served once or twice, but it was a crazy expensive and labor intensive.

I could never attempt to make anything as sophisticated as Burger Mountain. I don’t have the culinary training like she does. But I could make a really freaking big hamburger that would taste good. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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