I decided mid way through the year that I wasn't going to do a best meal or best dish list this year because there were already way too many great ones in the mix. From the delicious and fun visiting chef Pop Up Series hosted by chef Michael Schwartz at Harry's Pizzeria, to the great monthly themed dinners hosted by chef Aaron Brooks at Edge Steak & Bar, to some wonderful wine and champagne dinners along the way and of course, the "underground and experimental" dinners we throw with some creative and talented chefs over at Cobaya Miami.
But some of these meals were truly exceptional and memorable. And I wanted to go back and give them the credit they deserve.
Ranking these was not easy as all were truly outstanding. As with my normal "tiers", these rankings take all facets of the meal into consideration. While food is the primary component, phenomenal wine or simply a great time will bolster ones rating.
I intended on limiting the list to my Top Twelve for 2012 but it was impossible to cut down to 12. Thus, I went with my top Fifteen plus a tie.
Big thanks to all of the chefs, kitchen crews, managers, sommeliers, bartenders, servers and support staff for making 2012 another happy year for my belly!!
Rankings thus far:
#15 Cobaya Dunch @ neMesis Urban Bistro
|Chefs Valles, Bachour & Gras|
Tied at number fifteen was an incredible eleven course tasting menu followed by an additional seven, yes seven unbelievable desserts prepared by the extraordinary Antonio Bachour. The savory portion of the tasting included one of the best bites I had all year, a crispy poached egg topped with caviar and vodka creme fraiche. It also featured some outstanding raw fish and great wine. Service was flawless and dessert was a meal of its own. You can read my original post below.
If you have not made it over to Bal Harbour and J&G Grill yet I would make it a priority. It's a first class restaurant with first class chefs serving first class food.
J&G Grill opened a few months ago in the new St. Regis Resort in Bal Harbour. The dining room is sharp, sophisticated and modern with great ocean views. The chef behind J & G is Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Jean-Georges currently owns several popular and well acclaimed restaurants around the world including Jean-Georges in New York City which received a four star rating from the New York Times along with a three star rating from the Michelin guide. In 2007, he received 6 Michelin stars, 3 for Jean-Georges and one star each for Vong, JoJo and Perry Street. He followed that up with a James Beard award for Outstanding Restaurant in 2008.
His Miami team is comprised of chef de cuisine is Richard Gras who spent several years working in the Ritz Carlton kitchens at Half Moon Bay and Amelia Island. His sous chef is Leo Pablo who previously worked at another Jean-Georges spot, Fern located in Puerto Rico.
The J&G kitchen is also home to pastry chef extraordinaire, Antonio Bachour. Chef Bachour takes dessert to another level with his creative and cutting edge techniques. His plating skills are the best I've seen. He was recently named Top Ten Pastry Chef in America by Dessert Professional Magazine.
I was very impressed with sommelier Luis Mejia who did an excellent job pairing wines with our tasting menu. His parings were diverse, perfectly paired and very enjoyable.
General Manager Antonio Palomares deserves credit as well for having a noticeably well trained team. Everyone was friendly yet professional and very knowledgeable.
During our recent visit we were treated to an eleven course tasting menu curated by Chef Bachour and Chef Pablo. That was followed by a seven course off menu dessert tasting prepared by Chef Bachour. It should be noted that chef Bachour
The first of eleven savory courses was a fresh Hawaiian Ahi Tuna Tartare with spicy radish and ginger marmalade.
Course two was a melt in your mouth Hamachi Sashimi with avocado and a soy-ginger dressing.
Course three was one of my favorite savory bites of the night. It featured very flavorful Salmon Sashimi resting on top of a crispy rice and a tasty chipolte mayonnaise.
Next up were plump Sauteed Florida Pink Shrimp paired with key lime yogurt and red radish.
The chef took a temporary break from seafood with a light Florida Hearts of Palm Salad with heirloom tomatoes and young coconut.
Seafood returned with a generous portion of sweet Peekytoe Crab paired with lemongrass and champagne mango.
A dynamite Corn Soup that requires three hours of prep time was served next. It featured delicious roasted corn, red pepper foam and lobster.
Black Truffle Pizza with fontina cheese had a nice chewy dough and was another winner.
The knockout dish of the night, Caviar, Crispy Poached Egg and Vodka Creme Fraiche tasted even better than it sounded.
Runny yolk, caviar and creme fraiche. Boooya!!!!!
The Roast Crispy Striped Bass with braised fennel had a tough dish to follow. The bass was very good but the accompanying broth was my least favorite taste of the evening.
The last savory course was a Grilled Filet Mignon with charred fava beans, jalapeno and parmesan. This was cooked closer to medium than the requested medium rare but still maintained its tenderness. I'm not a filet fan but this was a nice way to end the savory portion of the meal.
NEXT UP A MIND BLOWING SEVEN COURSE DESSERT TASTING VIA CHEF BACHOUR
The pictures and dish descriptions should say it all.
Crema Catalana, raspberry foam, berries, raspberry lime fizzy, raspberry sorbet.
Dulce de leche chocolate tart, caramel ice cream, chocolate mousse, white chocolate cremeux, chocolate crocante.
Soft chocolate ganache, coconut mousse, coconut powder, banana yogurt sorbet, banana brûlée.
Lemon cream, microwave pistachio sponge cake, greek yogurt, pistachio puree, green apple sorbet.
Lychee panna cotta, mango cream, passion fruit foam, dried pineapple, mango glass, mango sorbet
White chocolate yogurt mousse, lychee granita, campari gelee, grapefruit, micro rose petal, greek yogurt sorbet.
Petit Fours- lime basil macaron, espresso macaron, raspberry pate de fruits, chocolate bonbons.
I was very impressed with all facets of J & G Grill. The ingredients and products used in every dish were top notch and they were executed perfectly. This is one of the better all around restaurants in town. Go and make sure you save room for dessert!
St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort
9703 Collins Avenue,
Bal Harbour, FL 33154
Tel:305.993.3333 Fax: 305.993.0440 FAX
Hotel Valet -- Complimentary parking for brunch and lunch only. Dinner parking is $12.00.
Metered parking available on 96th Street
HOURS OF OPERATION:
12:00 AM to 3:30 PM Monday – Friday
11:30 AM to 4:00 PM Saturday and Sunday
6:00 PM to 11:00 PM Daily
5:00 PM to 12:00 AM Sunday - Wednesday
5:00 PM to 1:00 AM Thursday - Saturday