Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Turnberry Ousts Fairmont

Turnberry Isle Hotel & Resort has dismissed Fairmont Hotels & Resorts as the luxury hotel’s manager and brand.  It appears that Turnberry will run the property on their own now.

No worries Duck Fat Fry fans, this will not impact Bourbon Steak since their relationship was with Turnberry and not Fairmont.

More here

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

STK (MIami)

I recently paid my first visit to STK located in the lobby of the Gansevoort Hotel on South Beach.  I've had no burning desire to visit STK but took advantage of what I initially thought was a good offer on Gilt City Miami. Upon further review post purchase, I realized it wasn't a great value.  Nevertheless, I was still looking forward to my visit.

The Gilt City deal consisted of dinner and cocktails for two for $150.00.  It was supposed to include two signature cocktails, Lil’ BRGs and grilled octopus to start followed by a 32 oz. porterhouse for two, one side dish and a custom dessert tasting platter.  However, the custom menu we were provided clearly stated that we were being served a 24 oz porterhouse for two.  Not a big deal for us from an oz. standpoint but it's still false advertising and very lame. Hey Schrager did you "curate" this one?!  Additionally, we did not receive the custom dessert tasting platter. Instead we each ordered a dessert from the menu which was fine but again not really cool.

iPhone pic-promise menu says 24oz, Japanese Wagyu &;dessert tasting platter

While we were waiting for our first course to arrive we noticed that everyone else was served a basket of nice looking bread.  Technically, bread wasn't mentioned as part of our deal but you think they would have served us some anyway, right?  We asked, we received and it was great, probably the best thing we had all night.

First up were the lil' BRGs, STK's riff on a big mac.  It was allegedly ** "Japanese wagyu", special sauce and a sesame seed bun. This sounds much better on paper.  They were sad and disheveled looking things that were overpowered by the special sauce. They weren't bad but they weren't special either.  Shouldn't sliders at an upscale steakhouse be kick ass? If not, why bother?  The grilled octopus dish was served simultaneously and was another letdown.  I'm a big octopus fan and this was overly chewy plus I did not love the mango escabeche pairing. 

The biggest disappointment of the night was the porterhouse. I usually order a ribeye but was really looking forward to sharing a great porterhouse with my wife.  We ordered it medium rare and it arrived closer to medium. It was tough not tender, including the filet. It was also flavorless, even the strip side. I didn't think a high end steakhouse could fuck up a porterhouse but they succeeded.  Head scratching bad.  Even the side of mac cheese was pedestrian. They should call it mush & water.          

On a positive note the bartender in the main room was very friendly and served great cocktails.  The service was actually very good which is always impressive when dining on South Beach.

STK provides a modern take on a steakhouse.  It is a very cool spot and perfect if the scene is more important to you than the food.  However, if you are looking for a great combination of the two I would have to drop it down a few notches on the list. Unfortunately, most nightclub restaurant hybrids fail to deliver when it comes to the food. I guess they just don't care as they continue to rake in the money. Yes, there are exceptions and two come to mind,  n9ne and Tao in Las Vegas. They are clearly on the clubby side but I've had very good meals at both.  So it is doable.   

STK takes pride in their slogan ..."not your daddy's steakhouse".  And they are correct; it's no Peter Lugers, not even close.

**-EDITED to add "" around Japanese Wagyu** see comments for more.

STK Miami (Gansevoort Hotel) on Urbanspoon


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Miami Spice is Nice (so far..)

Scoreboard Says- 3 Spices, 3 Winners!!!

Tudor House

I've done 3 spice meals this year which I think surpasses my combined total for the last two years. Anyway, all 3 were for lunch which are not necessarily great values for me because I never have dessert at lunch.  Nevertheless, all 3 of these were outstanding and offered good value and a nice way to sample their current menu offerings.

My first lunch was unexpected, landlord duties called so I was on South Beach during lunch time with time to kill.  Shout out to Master Maids who did an outstanding move out/in cleaning job.  Thanks to Chef Jeremiah for the recommendation.  Anyway, I recalled being intrigued by the new Tudor House menu and opted to head there.  After perusing the menu it was clear that the spice menu was the way to go since it offered several interesting choices and an overall value.

I started with the Greek Salad Panzanella, featuring heirloom tomatoes, cucumbers and of course, bread.  This was a generous portion and a great tasting combination.  I followed that with the Ricotta Gnudi, paired with heirloom beets, English peas and petite basil.  I really enjoyed the texture of the gnudi along with the fresh beets and accompanying pea/basil combination.  This was a great dish.  As usual, dessert was completely unnecessary but delicious. I went with the Strawberry Shortcake, served with strawberry sherbet, mascarpone cream and strawberries.  This was a nice light dessert and the perfect end to a great meal.

Lunch number two was a pit stop on our way down to a one day staycation at the Gansevoort Hotel. I'm not a huge fan of the Vegas-esque Fontainebleau complex for a few reasons but primarily because of the chaotic and slow valet scene.  That said, it is the home of two of Miami's better restaurants, Scarpetta and Hakkasan.  Both offer very good Miami Spice deals with Hakkasan offering a dim sum lunch option on the weekends.  This was on my Miami Spice must do short list and a no-brainer on the way down to South Beach.

Simply put, Hakkasan's dim sum lunch provides a tremendous amount of awesome food at an equally great value.  I'll spare you on the details of the menu and simply point you here dim sum menu.  I will tell you that the dumplings alone are worth the price of  lunch.  I forgot how good they are and was wondering why it took me so long to go back, until I returned to the valet stand...

The third Spice (Posh is one, right? so Sporty spice??) was the result of serious inclement weather.  Since it wasn't a beach day I was able to work another meal into the itinerary.  It was lunch time again so I successfully lobbied for a visit to Tudor House.

On this go round I had to change it up and went with the a perfectly prepared  Nicoise Salad with tuna Conserva, garden beans, and a soft cooked egg.  I rarely order a nicoise but really enjoyed their version.  However, Chow P's starter, Bruschetta Tasting of crab, burrata and chick peas was outstanding and the best thing I sampled their to that point.  It was a unique and interesting combination that worked perfectly.

Next up for me was an absolutely awesome “Cuban Style” Pressed Sandwich, featuring pork belly and pickled cucumbers.  Run don't walk to try this sandwich spice or no spice.  This is a real winner.  Chow P went with the aforementioned ricotta gnudi and enjoyed it so much that I barely got a taste.  For dessert, we opted for the Strawberry Shortcake along with the Key Lime Ice Cream Sandwich.  Both were great and a nice end to another great Spice lunch. 

Batting 1000

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Calera Wine Dinner @ Cafe Maxx 8/17/11

I don't post about too many wine dinners around town but this one really sounds like a winner to me.  I've enjoyed several of the Calera Pinots and Cafe Maxx is one of the best restaurants in Broward.

Marta Rich from Calera will be on hand.   Dinner is $125 + Tax + Gratuity, for reservations call 954-523-9463.  The featured wines are all available at Wine Watch in Ft. Lauderdale.

Calera Wine Dinner at Cafe Maxx

Wednesday August 17th



Grilled shrimp with banana chutney

Sea scallop ceviche with mango and chayote

B & E chicken and brie philo purses

2009 Calera Central Coast Chardonnay

Price: $18             Sale $15.84          Case $184

The 2009 Central Coast Chardonnay starts with a lively, honeysuckle blossom and peach bouquet, accented by bright pippin apples and pear. On the palate, this wine is rich, smooth, flavorful and mouth filling while retaining a dancing lightness on the mouth. Soft hints of spicy oak, ripe apricot and Meyer lemon zest add personality to the long lingering finish.

First Course

Crispy cornflake fried hog snapper with tropical fruit salsa, orange-basil remoulade and endive slaw

2002 Calera Mount Harlan Chardonnay

Price: $99             Sale $87.12

The 2002 Mt. Harlan Chardonnay is a smooth, rich and beautiful wine with aromas of apple and summer melon.  Fresh flavors of Barlett pear, citrus zest and hints of vanilla fill the palate.  This wine has a soft, silky texture with undertones of toasty oak and a full, creamy finish that displays the signature Mt. Harlan limestone minerality. - Winemaker's Notes

2003 Calera Mount Harlan Chardonnay

Price: $93             Sale $81.84

The 2003 Mt. Harlan Chardonnay possesses a beautiful bouquet of apple blossom, pear and honeydew melon.  A full, creamy texture fills the palate while wowing the taster with restrained yet rich flavors of cherimoya, vanilla and lemon zest, and accented by Ht. Harlan's signature limestone minerality.  - Winemaker's Notes

Second Course

Carpaccio of filet mignon with sundried cherries and shitake mushrooms, opal basil and crostini

2009 Calera Central Coast Pinot Noir

Price: $24             Sale $21.12          Case $245

Delightful bright aromas of pomegranate, sandalwood, juicy cherry and bramble waft from this energetic and flavorful 2009 Calera Central Coast Pinot Noir. Seven different vineyard sources combine to create lively flavors of cranberry, French prune, briar and expressive red plum with a soft underpinning of oak. Deep flavors, firm tannins, wonderful fruit and a nice tartness make for a rich, lingering finish.

Third Course

Breast of duck with wild mushroom and pearl onion risotto and natural sauce

2007 Calera Ryan Vineyard Pinot Noir

Price: $47.75       Sale $42.02          Case $487

(93 Points)  From one of the property’s coolest sites, the 2007 Pinot Noir Ryan Vineyard reveals nearly overwhelming notes of sassafras, root vegetables, plums, red currants, and raspberries. It is a spicy, earthy effort with an autumnal-like herbaceousness. Aged 17 months in French oak (30% new), it is a Pinot Noir for those who prefer that varietal’s spicy, stemmy, earthy side. Nevertheless, there is still plenty of fruit in this complex, singular cuvee.  Wine Advocate # 190, Aug 2010

2007 Calera Mills Vineyard Pinot Noir

Price: $51             Sale $44.88          Case $520

(95 Points)  From a 13.1-acre vineyard planted in 1997, the 2007 Pinot Noir Mills Vineyard was cropped at an absurdly low .84 tons of fruit per acre. This beauty offers up notes of forest floor, raspberries, fresh mushrooms, sweet currants, and meat juices. The provocative, riveting aromatics are followed by a medium to full-bodied wine with sweet tannins, dense, chewy, lush fruit, good acidity, and a 40-second finish. Drink this profound Pinot Noir over the next decade or more. Wine Advocate # 190, Aug 2010

2007 Calera Jensen Vineyard Pinot Noir

Price: $75             Sale $66                Case $765

(97 Points)  A true Pinot Noir rock star is the 2007 Pinot Noir Jensen Vineyard. From a 13.8-acre vineyard planted in 1975, and cropped at 1.46 tons of fruit per acre, the Jensen cuvee spent 17 months in Francois Freres cooperage, of which 30% was new. One of the bigger production efforts (1,113 cases), it exhibits a deep ruby/purple-tinged color as well as a sweet, explosive nose of ripe raspberries, black cherries, spice box, earth, and chalk. Deep, rich, and full-bodied, it is the sexiest, most seductive wine of all these 2007 Pinots. A round, generous, intense red that cascades over the palate with no hard edges, it is capable of 15-20 years of cellaring. Wine Advocate # 190, Aug 2010

Fourth Course

Blue raspberry glazed Sterling Silver pork tenderloin with roasted fingerling potatoes Baby carrots and cauliflower

1990 Calera Reed Pinot Noir

Price: $111          Sale $97.68          Case $1132

(89 Points) A dense plum/purple color is accompanied by a sweet nose of cola, root beer, earth, and black fruits. This offering avoids the distinctive vegetal/minty characteristics found in other vintages. It possesses fine ripeness and sweetness, medium body, and an earthy, singular style. Drink it over the next 5-6 years. # E2003, Apr 2003

2004 Calera Pinot Noir Mills

Price: $61.50       Sale $54.12          Case $627.30

(93 Points)  The 2004 Pinot Noir Mills Vineyard boasts a deep ruby/purple color along with seductive, sweet aromas of black raspberries, black cherries, spring flowers, and spice. It possesses beautiful red and black fruits, good acidity, full body, and more tannin, but less spice than the Reed cuvee. This complex, fruit-driven Pinot Noir will benefit from 1-3 years of cellaring, and should drink well for 10-15 years. Wine Advocate # 172, Aug 2007


Crème brulee fruit tart with vanilla and fruit sauces

2009 Calera Viognier (375ml)

Price: $18             Sale $15.84          Case $184

Wine Watch, Inc.
901 Progresso Drive
Fort Lauderdale, Florida 33304
Phone: 954-523-9463

Cafe Maxx
2601 E. Atlantic Blvd.
Pompano Beach, FL 33062