Sunday, January 29, 2012

neMesis Urban Bistro (Miami) Photo Recap

NeMesis Urban Bistro

neMesis Urban Bistro is located in the Legal Arts Building a few blocks west of the American Airlines Arena and close to the Adrienne Arsht Center (hint hint).  It's a funky little spot serving fantastic global cuisine.  It's the brainchild of former Top Chef contestant Micah Edelstein.  Micah's worldly travels are clearly on display throughout her menu.
Micah Edelstein
Bravo tv

I love everything about this place from the decor to the vibe to the great food and wine.  This is the kind of place you can go with a group of close friends yet it's also first date appropriate. 

The menu is broken down into four sections, sexy nibbles, cool couples, main attractions and happy endings. She had me at sexy nibbles and happy endings...  Although the menu has remained the same since opening last summer, Chef Micah also offers daily specials that are worth exploring.

One of my favorite items on the menu is the Caramelized Shallot Focaccia which is topped with hibiscus mascarpone and black lava sea salt in addition to the caramelized shallots.  This is a sexy tasting combination and the perfect nibble to start your meal.  

Next up on my last visit was Micah's sexy dim sum.  Her potstickers are filled with leek and fig braised duck and paired with a guava cardamon sauce.  These are another must order.   

Our journey continued from China to Japan via Italy.  Tuscan Sushi is Micah's Italian riff on sushi. It's prepared like traditional maki sushi (roll) without the fish or rice.  She pairs a delicious combination of mascarpone, gorgonzola dulce and figs and wraps it in prosciutto.  This may sound odd but it really works well together.

Corn chowder with lamb bacon was a daily special and may have been more homey than sexy but it was good nonetheless.  It showcased some very fresh vegetables with a nicely seasoned broth.  

The P4- purple Peruvian potato pancakes falls under the cool couples portion of the menu. The P4 is paired with house made apple sage chicken sausage, hibiscus ginger syrup, maple granules and crispy sage.  The menu tends to read sweet but most dishes are not overly sweet at all with the exception of maybe this one. That said, the house made apple sage chicken sausage are a nice twist on your typical sausage and the dish really works.  Just wondering if the sausage should be on the sexy nibble part of the menu... 

For her "main attraction" Chow P went with the daily pasta special which featured house made lamb agnolotti paired with a coward (no nuts) pesto. This was probably one of my least favorite dishes I've had there primarily because I didn't love the thickness/texture of the pasta.  Not a bad dish but I am a pasta snob for sure.

I opted for the Piri Piri Bison, paired with a huckleberry dark chocolate chili sauce and sage squash hash. This was an outstanding dish.  The bison was tender, flavorful and had a nice char on the outside.  Another winner. 

It was very difficult to pass on the Willy Wonka sampler platter for dessert but I was in the mood to sample something new and neMesis sort of reminds me of a funky spot you'd find on Magazine Street in New Orleans. Plus, whenever I see bread pudding on a menu I am immediately transported back to Commander's Palace in New Orleans.  Micah's version included white chocolate, Greek yogurt and a hibiscus sauce.  Happy ending indeed. 

This is easily becoming one of my favorite spots in Miami.  It has a neighborhood vibe sans a neighborhood.  Chef Micah is clearly proud and passionate about her food and it shows.   

Go, sit back, relax and enjoy the journey.  I'm confident you will leave very happy.

NeMesis Urban Bistro on Urbanspoon

Legalart Building
1035 N Miami Ave

Miami, FL 33136
(305) 415-9911

First Date(s) - Blue Collar (Upper East Side Miami)

Blue Collar recently opened in the old American Noodle spot on Biscayne Blvd. in the Upper East Side of Miami.  It is owned and operated by Chef Allen veteran Daniel Serfer.

It was love at first site for me after seeing the menu posted on their website.  The Big Ragout Sandwich had my name written all over it.  The Shrimp and Grits, Pork and Beans and Chanukah Latkes also turned me on.

The American Noodle Bar blackboard remains and lists the daily specials which feature rib, parm and braise options. It also lists their extensive "veg" menu.

The simple, clean and modern decor features lunchboxes mounted along the walls.

The first dish I tried was the Shrimp and Grits.  Chef Serfer's version features a generous portion of fresh, perfectly cooked shrimp.  They were accompanied by bits of bacon and New Orleans style, (think Worcestershire sauce) bbq sauce.  I would defer to my Southern friends regarding the grits although this Yankee ate his fair share while residing in New Orleans and I liked the texture of these.  This was a very nice overall dish and one of the best versions I've had in Miami.  That said, the KING of bbq shrimp in Miami is Kris Wessel and Red Light.

Next up was The Big Ragout sandwich.  This monster of a sandwich features pork and veal shoulder, brisket and is topped with fresh mozzarella. It's served on semi hollowed out bread that is made specially for The Big Ragout.  Bread can really make or break a sandwich and this bread was fantastic. It had a really nice chewy dough with a nice crisp outside that supported the "ragout" perfectly.  This is a large, heavy sandwich that I admittedly had a hard time finishing post shrimp and grits.  Nevertheless, I did and I really enjoyed it.  It reminded me of the debris sandwich I love from Mother's in New Orleans. A side of some of the extra juice would really elevate this to an off the charts knockout sandwich.  Regardless, this will be on my short list for Super Bowl meal options.  I also liked their fries which were perfectly seasoned with a nice crisp texture.

After enjoying my first meal I paid a second visit a couple of days later with Chow P.  She ordered a veggie burger with bacon. Hilarious!!  First up were Wild Mushroom and Goat Cheese Croquettes paired with a pomegranate fig jam. The croquette combination was perfectly proportioned resulting in a very nice bite. I'm sure these will be a hit.

Next up was a dish I really wanted to try on my first visit, the Pork and Beans.  This was a hearty dish that combined smoked bacon, sausage and white beans topped with a fried egg.  Dangerously good.  We also sampled the beets and brussels sprouts which were fine but nothing special.

Dessert-you can never go wrong with a $3 pint of beer.

Blue Collar is a small, laid back neighborhood spot that features solid comfort food prepared by a chef who is stepping down in restaurant "class".  That's a nice combination and a welcome addition to Miami.

Blue Collar Restaurant on Urbanspoon

6730 Biscayne Blvd
Miami, FL 33138 

Friday, January 6, 2012

First Date- Salumeria 104 (Midtown Miami)


Fresh bread and three Italian slicers
I had heard through the grapevine from a reliable restauranteur and chef that Chef Masarin made a mean amatriciana sauce so that's what I was gunning for when I arrived. After taking a seat at the bar, I was immediately advised by the pleasant server of their daily specials.  They all sounded great but when she blurted out trippa with parmesan and polenta I got wide eyed and uncontrollably blurted out "oooh" and quickly ordered it along with the rigatoni amatriciana.

Rigatoni Amatriciana

The rigatoni was cooked  perfectly al dente and paired with a tasty and lightly spicy tomato sauce that included guanciale and onions.  I really enjoyed the combination. The only possible issue people may have is the portion size at $15.00.  

Tripe with Polenta

Next up was the trippa.  Chef Massani prepared the tripe in the traditional roman style with parmesan cheese and a fantastic tomato sauce. It was accompanied by three bricks of perfect polenta that served as a nice contrast to the tripe and sauce.  The tripe (I believe the chef mentioned a 24 hour process) was super tender and had a great soft texture. The flavor off the tripe and the wonderful accompanying tomato sauce made for a knockout dish.

Look at that ass oops the prosciutto di parma
 As with all great first dates, halfway through, I was already planning the second one.  Obvioulsy I need to try the salumi next go round as well as some of the housemade pastas.  But my focus is going to be on the special board.  If Chef Massani continues to deliver more dishes of the tripe caliber we will have a neighborhood gem on our hands.

Salumeria 104 is the type of place we need more more of if we are going to continue to evolve into a legitimate food city.  My first visit was a great experience and I highly recommend checking it out.

Salumeria 104 on Urbanspoon

3451 NE 1st Ave Map.74b409a
Miami, FL 33137

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

First Date - Smashburger (North Miami)

As many of my loyal followers know, I'm a big burger fan. As I indicated in my last Tiers of a Burger ranking, I've cut back on my burger intake recently primarily because of the over saturation of burger joints and food trucks in South Florida.  Nevertheless, I couldn't resist stopping by the newly opened Smashburger located next to Total Wine in North Miami.

Smashburger is a rapidly expanding fast casual burger parlor that employs a highly complex and top secret "smashing" technique.  It's doubtful that you will find a medium rare burger on your plate after being smashed but you never know.     

On my first date, being a burger purist, I opted for the classic smashburger which was accompanied by American cheese, ketchup, leaf lettuce, tomato slices, red onion, pickles, and smash sauce on an egg bun.

My burger was good but flawed. It was overly salty which may have been the work of a heavy handed smasher or the result of the smashing procedure. Hopefully, it was an isolated incident because over seasoning doesn't work for me.  Additionally, the American cheese was on the thick side and slightly overpowering.  The smash sauce which appeared to be a mustard, mayonnaise, relish combination was good but awkwardly placed on top of the large leafy lettuce instead of the burger.  The egg bun was properly sized to support the burger and toppings but I wasn't crazy about the taste or its texture.      

I'm a big french fry fan and had to try their Smashfries as well as their traditional ones.  Both were a huge disappointment. So weak that I doubt I would order them ever again and that is nearly impossible when ordering a burger.  Gun to my head I would opt for the Smashfries. 

I know I'm sounding overly critical for a first visit but they are national big boys and should be ready to play.  In fairness, I actually liked the patty itself and thought the smashing provided a nice crusty texture.     

It's not in the same league as Shake Shack but that's a lofty comparison since most aren't. The jury is out for me but I will definitely be back for a second date.   

Smashburger on Urbanspoon

14730 Biscayne Blvd
Miami, FL 33181

Nose to Tail @ Edge Steak & Bar 1/13/12

                                              Edge Steak & Bar at the Four Seasons Hotel Miami

 I haven't had an opportunity to visit the new restaurant at the Four Seasons, Edge Steak & Bar yet but I have heard good things about it.  Chef Aaron Brooks' nose to tail dinner sounds cool so I wanted to pass along the details. 


Trio of Chefs Collaborate to Produce an Interactive Nose-to-Tail Dining Experience
Edge, Steak & Bar, the progressive steakhouse at the Four Seasons Hotel Miami, is pleased to announce a dinner series starting with a “nose-to-tail” pork tasting on Friday, January 13, 2012 at 7:00 p.m.

Organized by executive chef Aaron Brooks and restaurant chef James King, the first dinner will be an introduction to the monthly dining series kick-off. The Edge duo will be joined by chef Joshua Smith of Esquire Magazine’s “Best New Restaurant”, Tico in Boston for the series kick-off. The trio will discuss the farm-to-table relationship with pork purveyor Palmetto Creek Farms and interact with guests in the private dining rooms of Edge. “We want diners to get to know the chefs with this unique experience,” explained chef Brooks. “We all bring something different to the table.”

Diners will gather in Edge’s beautiful private dining rooms and enjoy a five-course dinner with paired wines by Seghesio Winery of Sonoma County.
The dinner is priced at $99 per person, exclusive of tax and gratuity. Seats are limited, reservations required. Future dinner themes and dates will be announced periodically.

Edge, Steak & Bar is located at 1435 Brickell Avenue on the 7th floor of Four Seasons Hotel Miami, and serves dinner nightly from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.  Telephone: (305) 381-3015;