Friday, October 25, 2013

Little Monsters Halloween Bash @ Tongue & Cheek 10.26.13


Spring 44 Spirits Dinner @ Swine Southern 10.29.13


1ST course 

House made ricotta agnolotti with wood grilled key west pink shrimp, smoked corn puree, snap pea and baby fennel salad and a smoked bacon “air”

Paired with: "Stone Cold Rocky" - Spring 44 Gin, Apricot Liqueur, Bitter Lemon Soda

2nd course

Smoked confit of duck leg, seared Margret duck breast, sweet potato dumplins, charred leeks, citrus gel, duck fat rye crumble and natural jus

Paired with: "The Honey Bee" - Spring 44 Honey Vodka, Honey-Thyme Syrup, Lemon Juice,

3rd course

Whole suckling pig porchetta served with molasses bbq and family style sides; grilled zuchinni bread with gruyere, salt roasted beet and pork cheek hash with smoked shallots, Virginia clam and field bean ragu with crispy pig tails and grilled farm cheese

Paired with: "April Negroni" - Spring 44 Old Tom Gin, Campari, Sweet Vermouth

4th course

Butternut Squash S’Mores cheesecake with bourbon spiked cranberries, roasted white chocolate, torched marshmallows, graham streusel Paired with: "Simply Bourbon" - Spring 44 Bourbon served Neat with Amarena Cherries

Address: 2415 Ponce De Leon Blvd, Coral Gables, FL 33134
Phone:(786) 360-6433

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Tiers of a Burger - Best Burgers South Florida (10.13)*Cmdv1HBnZwz7DvF6V6YRXlSndYto78CZexRwA16KeCMRDF3/ronald.jpg

I've enjoyed several outstanding burgers recently so it was time to update my Best Burgers of South Florida Rankings. 

The last time I did my rankings I decided to limit the tiers to my top ten. But the burger scene in South Florida continues to improve and limiting my rankings to ten again would eliminate some great burgers that deserve recognition.  Thus, I am extending this list to my Top Twenty and ties.

It should be noted that my burger rankings are all about the burger.  Unlike my "Tiers of Excellence" restaurant rankings, service, wine lists, ambiance and value do not play a role.  This is all about the blend, the bun, the seasonings, the toppings and the overall execution. 

I highly recommend every burger ranked.

THESE are the twenty best burgers in the tri-county area. 

TIER ONE- The best of the best. Run don't walk to try these.


Shake Shack - I love Shake Shack Burgers and always order a single ShackBurger which is a cheeseburger topped with lettuce, tomato and shacksauce. Burgers are 100% all natural angus beef, ground daily and cooked medium.  The single is the perfect burger in every way and I will leave it at that.

The Cypress Room (Miami Design District) Michael Schwartz's outstanding fairly new upscale restaurant serves a dynamite burger.  The beefy patty contains trimmings from the rib cap and is topped with a delicious Jasper Hill Landaff and onion marmalade. The combination is perfect and the housemade bun seals the deal. This is a special burger.    


Bourbon Steak - (Aventura) I've enjoyed numerous all-beef, dry aged burgers topped with melted farmhouse cheddar, shredded lettuce, balsamic onions and secret sauce at Bourbon Steak over the years.  It is still one of my favorites in town and it's always excellent.  The duck fat fries are not to be missed.


db Bistro Moderne- (Miami) The Original db Burger.  I always wrestle with where to rank this one. A case could be made that it is easily the best burger in town.  This monster burger consists of a sirloin burger filled with wine braised short rib, foie gras, preserved black truffle on a parmesan bun.  The foie, black truffle and short rib all work together making this an outstanding treat.  

TIER TWO- Excellent Burgers you must try.

Blue Collar (Miami UPE) Chef Serfer is a huge burger fan like me and it shows.  He sources great products and his "Real Juicy Cheeseburger" is no exception.  It's a  prime dry aged NY Strip that is always seasoned properly and cooked perfectly.  And it's served on a delicious Portuguese muffin. His fresh hand cut fries are up there with the best in town.

Michy's (Miami UPE) Wait, Michy's serves a burger? Yes as part of their new Sunday brunch menu and it rocks. Michy's burger is topped with a poached egg, hollandaise, Jamon Serrano and melting Gruyere.A truly perfect combination.

Umami Burger - (South Beach) I've only been to Umami on one occasion but the overall combination was outstanding and easily top ten in town. I opted for the "Umami Burger" which is topped with a shiitake mushroom, caramelized onions, roasted tomato, parmesan crisp and umami ketchup. The medium rare patty cooked on a flat top griddle was wonderful on its own.  The flavors of the toppings, the texture of the crisp and the perfectly sized bun really enhanced the experience. I was legitimately craving more hours later.

Wolfgang's Steakhouse- (Miami) Yes another newcomer to town, making their debut in the rankings. 
Wolfgang Zweiner was a waiter at the legendary Brooklyn steakhouse, Peter Luger's for forty years and he clearly took some good notes during his tenure. His burger was hand packed lightly and seasoned perfectly.  It was cooked to a proper medium rare and was full of great beefy flavor.  The bun supported the patty nicely and had a proper bun to patty ratio.  

This is a burger for traditional burger fans and I highly recommend paying them a visit for it alone. It should be noted that the burger is only available during lunch. *Only had this burger one time*


 Houston's- (Aventura +) Houston's? The chain?? Yes! Houston's. Get the Cheeseburger with fresh ground chuck, cheddar, lettuce, tomato and onion on a toasted egg bun.  This is a legit burger.

Pincho Factory The Pincho burger is deliciously comprised of chuck, brisket and short rib and paired with lettuce, tomato, onion, cheese, potato sticks and secret sauce.  This is a very nice blend with proper seasoning, nice texture and a nice sauce.  All around winner.

Boxpark (Miami) This new addition is available during lunch only.  It is grass-fed and topped with thomasville tomme, arugula, pickled onions, tomato and served on a nice housemade onion bun.

Burger Fi - (Aventura +) Yes, BurgerFi is a complete ripoff of Shake Shack in every facet of the operation.  But they did a great job at it and they are much closer to home.  Side by side, I go to Shake Shack every time.  That being said, BurgerFi is putting out great burgers and deserve credit for it. My go to is a single BurgerFi Burger, all natural, grass fed angus burger, lettuce, tomato and secret sauce. Pictured above is the ultimate cheeseburger- double natural prime brisket burger, Swiss cheese, blue cheese, tomato, pickles & BurgerFi sauce. 

TIER THREE- Great burgers all burger fans will love.

The Dutch (South Beach) The Dutch keeps it simple yet delicious.  They serve a dry aged prime burger with cheddar, secret sauce on a sesame bun.

Best Burgers in the U.S.: Michael's Genuine Food & Drink

Michael's Genuine Food & Drink (Miami Design District) The Genuine burger is a house ground Harris Ranch black angus burger topped with a choice of cheese on a brioche bun. House smoked bacon is also an option.

Edge Steak & Bar (Miami)  The Edge burger is available during lunch and featured Creekstone Farms ground beef and paired with Vermont cheddar and pickles.       

Edge Burger, Creekstone Farms, Ground Beef, Vermont Cheddar, Chef's Pickles
- See more at:
Edge Burger, Creekstone Farms, Ground Beef, Vermont Cheddar, Chef's Pickles
- See more at:
Edge Burger, Creekstone Farms, Ground Beef, Vermont Cheddar, Chef's Pickles
- See more at:
Edge Burger, Creekstone Farms, Ground Beef, Vermont Cheddar, Chef's Pickles
- See more at:

Preservation (Sunny Isles)  Another new entrant to the rankings.  Chef Ryan's Preservation Burger is paired with Berkshire bacon, sharp cheddar, onion compote and hickory island dressing.

Tongue and Cheek- (South Beach) Another newcomer making their debut in the rankings.  Tongue is operated by chef Jamie DeRosa formerly of Tudor House.  As you may recall, his Tudor Burger always ranked highly here.  His new version, a tender and flavorful beef cheek burger paired with cheddar pimento cheese, sweet onions and  housemade brioche may be even better.

J&G Grill- (Bal Harbour) Pastry Chef extraordinaire Antonio "nitro coco" Bachour insisted that I try their burger during a lunch visit and it was almost as good as his desserts.  The delicious J&G Cheeseburger is paired with black truffle dressing, brie and served on a terrific housemade bun that hung with the burger until the last bite.

Food Pictures

LoKal- (Coconut Grove) Unfortunately, I don't get down to the Grove much and have only been to Lokal on one occasion.  But one burger no one bite was all it took to know that this was a quality burger and tier worthy.  I went with the The Classic, Florida grass fed burger with thinly sliced white onions, tomato, shredded lettuce, dill pickles, sharp Wisconsin cheddar, mayo and mustard. The grass fed beef flavor shines through here.  I suspect that this one may be a tad underrated here.

World Famous Le Tub Burger
Le Tub (Hollywood)- I've been a Le Tub fan well before the nation found their delicious burgers. I always loved popping into this quirky spot and slinging back a cold beer some gumbo and of course their big old grilled burger.  Their sirloin burger features 13 oz. ground top sirloin, seasoned, charbroiled, served on a bun with lettuce, tomato, onion.  I always add cheese to it.

HiWay Burger (Delray Beach) I've never been to In-n-Out burger but know that this is a copy cat.  It's good and that's all I care about.  Pictured above is a cheeseburger Animal Style with extra "spread" pickles and grilled onions.  This burger may be under ranked here because I don't get up there enough.

Charm City Burger Company (Deerfield Beach) 1/3 pound proprietary steak blend served with lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles and charm sauce on an artisan baked sesame bun.

 TO DO LISTSwine Southern and  PB Steak


The Broken Shaker (Miami Beach) My favorite bar is now serving food. Their burger is great and will move up into the tiers next ranking if they continue to serve it. It's a short rib, brisket and chuck blend from Creekstone cooked sous vide and paired with charred scallion,whipped goat cheese and tomato/herb salad. It pairs perfectly with an old fashioned.


Char-Hut (Davie)  At one point, Char-Hut was one of my favorite burgers.  Always fresh and grilled right in front of you.  Always tasty and always hits the burger spot.  But as you can see, there has been a huge improvement to the local burger scene causing The Hut to fall out of the top twenty.

A TIER of THEIR OWN (great non-traditional burgers/food trucks that deserve their own tier)

gastroPod-Mo Better Burger, short rib, brisket and sirloin topped with poached egg, slaw and gPod sauce

Meat Market- American kobe slider duo- bacon/white cheddar foie gras.

Sakaya Kitchen- Angus beef bulgogi sliders with spicy goat cheese, pickles, roasted pork & kimchi

Sugarcane Raw Bar- Kobe sliders with tonkatsu sauce and fried quail egg.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Billecart-Salmon Dinner @ Scarpetta 10.23.13

Nina Compton
Chef Nina Compton via Top Chef

                                                                 Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé Champagne

On Wednesday, Oct. 23 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., Chef Nina Compton of Scarpetta at Fontainebleau Miami Beach will present the Billecart-Salmon Champagne Dinner on the restaurant’s oceanside terrace. The dinner is offered at $165 per person (excluding tax and gratuity), and will feature a four-course tasting menu, consisting of delicious dishes paired with classic Champagnes from Billecart-Salmon.

The meal will begin with an amuse bouche of diver scallops and tomato espuma, paired with a Billecart-Salmon Brut Réserve Champagne NV.

First course- tuna tartare with Osetra caviar, paired with a Billecart-Salmon Champagne Brut Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru NV.

Pasta course – bucatini with Alaskan King crab, gremolata and long hot chiles – will be paired with an aromatic Billecart-Salmon Champagne Cuvée Nicolas-François Billecart 1999.

Main course- Mediterranean branzino with baby vegetables and almond brown butter brodetto or a duo of pork with pork belly and roasted baby carrots. Both entrees will be paired with a Billecart-Salmon Brut Sous Bois NV

Dessert-coconut panna cotta with caramelized pineapple and guava “soup”, served alongside a classic Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé.

For reservations to the Billecart-Salmon Champagne Dinner, please call 877.326.7412

Scarpetta opens daily for dinner at 6 p.m. Telephone: (305)
Fontainebleau Miami Beach is located at 4441 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach.

About The Chef
Nina Compton, Chef de Cuisine of Scarpetta, is a Saint Lucia native and graduate of The Culinary Institute of America (2001) in Hyde Park. Nina began her professional journey at Daniel in New York City, and has worked alongside renowned chefs including Daniel Boulud, Alex Lee, Norman Van Aken and Philippe Ruiz. Before joining Fontainebleau Miami Beach’s culinary team, Chef Compton was executive chef of Casa Casuarina, a highly-acclaimed private club and intimate boutique hotel in Miami Beach. Chef Compton is currently featured as a competitor on the eleventh season of Bravo TV’s hit culinary competition series, Top Chef.

Tiers of Pizza - Best Pizza South Florida

Leaning Tower of Pizza

October is national pizza month so now is the ideal time to update my Tiers of Pizza.

For my new readers out there, I love pizza. I grew up in New York and love NY style slices. I've put in a lot of time searching for great slices in South Florida over the years. Unfortunately, I have only located a handful worth recommending. However, I have found several excellent thin crusted pies coming out of the wood and coal fired ovens around South Florida.

Every place ranked is highly recommended by me. I've once again broken them down into tiers as an ideal form of ranking them.


Pizzeria Oceano (Lantana) As I've previously advised, they've been serving the best pizza in South Florida and they'd easily hold their own against the best in the country.  Pictured above is their basic pizza which features housemade mozzarella, olive oil, pecorino romano, tomato sauce and basil. The sauce, cheese and dough are all fantastic and the ratio is perfect.  The crust has a nice char and tastes great. This is a perfect pizza and worth the drive from Miami for sure. Their non pizza offerings are excellent too.  This is a special place.

Lucali (South Beach) If you have been reading my blog posts and/or following me on Twitter, you already know that I have a huge pizza crush on Lucali.  As someone who loves traditional NY style pizza as well as thin crusted wood oven pies, this is a knockout combination.  You can read my original Five Star review here.  In a nutshell, everything about  this pizza is perfect from the addictive sauce to the fresh cheese to the tasty and chewy dough.  Plus, the overall ratio is spot on.  Save some room for the "Costanza" Calzone as it may be the best I've had. And make sure you pair it with that super sauce.


I've been asked several times now which pizza was better Oceano or Lucali? Great question and one I really can't answer without doing a side by side or same day tasting.  That will go down one day.


Scuola Vecchia Pizzeria (Delray Beach) The pizza chef trained at the critically acclaimed Keste Pizza e Vino on Bleeker Street in NYC. Pictured above is the classic Neapolitan pizza, the Regina Margherita.  It features imported bufala mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, tomato sauce, extra virgin olive oil and basil. This is great pizza and on the cusp of joining the big guns in Tier One. I need to go back for more.        

Mauro's (Downtown Hollywood)- Huge authentic NY style slices. Perfect dough, sauce and cheese ratio. Their sauce skews slightly on the sweet side. One of the best NY style slice in South Florida.
Grandma Pie

                                                               Old World Pie   
Kings County Pizza (Aventura) They are serving authentic NY style pies including stellar sicilian and grandma pies.Their baked ziti and chicken parm hero may be even better than the pizza.  

I recently tried their "Old World Pie" thin and crispy pie topped with fresh mozzarella, crushed tomato, basil and olive oil. So good.

Spadini's Mizner Pizzeria (Boca Raton)

This is a new addition to the tiers. I paid a visit recently and was pleasantly surprised by their NY Style slice. The flavor of the cheese, sauce and dough was spot on and had great ratios of each.

Cafe La Buca (Pompano Beach)- NY style/thin crust hybrid. Fantastic tasting dough with a nice chew. The cheese and sauce is top notch and perfectly proportioned. Pizza is cooked in a wood-fired oven imported from their hometown of Naples, Italy.  Five tables, daily changing verbal menu.  Get a small pie so you can try one of their fresh housemade pastas. Hidden gem and a must visit.

                                                         White Clam Apizza pie.

Nick's Pizzeria & Bar (Boca Raton) Nick's debuted in the rankings last go round. They specializes in New Haven style "apizza". The classic apizza is the "white clam pie" which consists of littleneck clams, garlic, olive oil, oregano and grated cheese. I've opted for their white clam, garlic and bacon pizza which is an awesome combination and a great pie. Their crust is great and features a really nice char. Their regular pies are great too.


Harry's new delivery guy...

Crispy lamb, heirloom tomatoes, eggplant, spicy sauce & herbs 
Harry's Pizzeria (Miami) The best thing about Harry's is that it continues to improve. Skip the margherita and opt for one of their creative pies featuring awesome topping combinations or their daily special.  You won't leave disappointed. Harry's serves unique style pies that are topping driven.  Don't go in expecting traditional style pizza. Go in expecting creative, fresh and tasty combinations.  And make sure you try their great and fairly new beer, Michael's Genuine Home Brew.

Pucci's Pizza (Miami) was my go to spot for a great NY slice on South Beach during the mid to late 90's.  They closed for an extended period of time but reopened a couple of years ago in Miami across from the Triple A. Thus, a perfect spot to stop pre and post Heat games. I finally made it back in and their slice was just as good as I remembered.  

Macalusos Market (South Beach) - I'm a big fan of Macaluso's and was very happy when he opened the market next door. The Market features their legendary meatballs, heroes and pastas.  They also serve fantastic pizzas. Kill two birds with one stone and order the meatball pie.  

Steve's (North Miami)- This is a place I really want to love but always falls just short for me.  It's very good but the sauce is just too sweet for this to rank higher.

Spris(South Beach) An underrated spot over on Lincoln Road that features some interesting topping combinations. Always leave satisfied. 

Anthonys Coal Fired Pizza (Multiple Locations) They started the coal fired craze in South Florida and still excel at it. Their wings are the best in town so don't skip them.

Michaels Genuine (Design District) Love the breakfast pizza on the brunch menu.

MC Kitchen (Design District)  Try the broccoli raab and Italian sausage pizza on the lunch menu.

J & G Grill (Bal Harbour) Their black truffle pizza with fointina cheese is available on the brunch, lunch and dinner menu.

Timo (Sunny Isles) Try their wood fired Black and White featuring ricotta, mozzarella, provolone and shaved black truffles.

To Do List

Frankies (Boynton Beach)
Fresco Trattoria (South Beach) Milan import sounds promising.
Kitchenetta (Ft. Lauderdale)
Gran Forno Pronto (Ft. Lauderdale)
Stanzione 87 (Miami)
Macchialina (South Beach)  I love almost everything here so I bet the pizza is great too.
Boxpark (Miami)

Friday, October 11, 2013

Job Wire- 50 EGGS Khong & Swine


Over 150 new job opportunities are available within the restaurant group

WHAT:           In October 2013, award-winning restaurant group 50 Eggs Inc. will host a series of career fairs at Khong River House and Swine Southern Table and Bar, seeking to hire over 150 candidates for both immediate and upcoming positions throughout their concepts.

Both back of house and front of house positions are open to qualified candidates, including Restaurant Managers, Bar Managers/Sommeliers, Servers, Server Assistants, Bartenders, Barbacks, Maitre’D, Host/ess, Reservationists, Sous Chefs, Line Cooks, Prep Cooks, Pastry Cooks, and Dishwashers. The job fairs will be held at the various dates and times listed below.

Those who attend the open call events will have an opportunity to speak with the Human Resources Manager and the Director of Operations about joining the 50 Eggs culinary team. Resumes are required.

Over the last seven years, 50 Eggs Inc., has provided over 1000 jobs to Miami and Dade County residents, and now the restaurant group is expanding again.

“This is an exciting time for us as our team continues to grow and expand,” says CEO John Kunkel. “We have multiple projects coming to Dade County and we are planning to hire close to 300 people within the next year.”

WHEN:          Upcoming career fairs at Swine:
·         Monday, October 14 – Tuesday, October 15 (9am to 12pm, 3pm to 6pm)
·         Thursday October 17 (9am to 12pm, 3pm to 6pm)
Upcoming career fairs at Khong River House:
·         Tuesday, October 22 – Thursday, October 24 (9am to 12pm, 3pm to 6pm)
·         Monday, October 28 – Wednesday, October 30 (9am to 12pm, 3pm to 6pm)

WHERE:         Swine Southern Table and Bar
                        2415 Ponce De Leon Blvd 
Coral Gables, FL 33134
Khong River House
                        1661 Meridian Avenue
                        Miami Beach, FL 33134        
# # #

About 50 Eggs Inc.
50 Eggs is focused on creating unparalleled experiences within the culinary, hospitality and entertainment industries. As a unique creative firm that brands and develops concepts, provides full-service hospitality operations and offers consulting services, every aspect of brand development is facilitated by a team of like minded individuals with multiple areas of expertise.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Flying Under The Food Radar 10/13

It's been a while since my last Flying Under the Food radar post and I've had some very good dishes recently at places that are clearly under the radar.  Thus, I wanted to share them with you.

Tienda Vieja- (Hollywood)

Tienda Vieja is a Colombian diamond in the rough.  It's located in restaurant wasteland on Hollywood Blvd. between I-95 and the Turnpike. But don't be fooled by the location because they are serving delicious traditional fare.  They are open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. They do not have a website but this menu appears to be accurate.  It should be noted that they are also a bakery and have some Colombian candy as well.

Not pictured but it certainly delivered was there Bandeja Paisa.  This "cardiologist special" includes steak, chicharrón, rice, beans, plantains, arepa, and a fried egg.  Insider tip, their coffee is very good and very necessary if going back to work after lunch.

On a recent visit I had a bowl of tasty chicken, potato and corn soup called Ajiaco.

I followed the Ajiaco up with Lengua a la Criolla. Yes, tongue paired with a very nice creole sauce, red beans y yuca frita.

If you are in the central Hollywood area or craving traditional Columbian food I would pay them a visit.

Tienda Vieja Restaurant & Bakery on Urbanspoon 

4449 Hollywood Blvd
Hollywood, FL 33021

Chapultepec- (Hallandale Beach)

I've mentioned and recommended Chapultepec on this site and my twitter feed before.  As a matter of fact, they were featured in my last Flying Under the Food Radar post. They're an authentic Mexican restaurant located in Hallandale Beach just west of Dixie Highway. The tacos are the best I've had in the area and their prices are inexpensive.

On a recent visit I opted for their Menudo which is a flavorful beef tripe soup with hominy, cilantro, onion and lime.  This is a must get for tripe fans.

Another great dish and one that made my recent Best Sandwich List is their Torta de Asada served with  lettuce, tomato, onion, avocado & jalapeño. This monster sandwich is a whopping $5.00. 

Chapultepec Mexican Bar & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

23 NW 2nd AVE, Hallandale Beach, FL.
(954) 456-0771

Copper Chimney (Sunny Isles)

I haven't had a lot of traditional Indian food in my life so I'll defer to the seasoned experts on the overall quality.  But as you know, there aren't a lot of Indian spots in town.  So if you want Indian food here is a spot for you.

Jeera Rice- basmati rice tempered with cumin.

A recent order of Bakara "Goat" Curry featured bone in tender goat with onions and a super spicy tomato sauce.  

Copper Chimney on Urbanspoon
18090 Collins Ave
Sunny Isles Beach, FL33160

Lutong Pinoy (North Miami Beach)

I recently wrote a post about the new Filipino place in North Miami Beach that you can read here.  The dishes I've had have been very good and they are surely under the food radar.

Crispy Pata- deep fried pork knuckle with an awesome crispy skin and super tender meat underneath.  It was served with a nice vinegary soy sauce to dip in. This was crazy good and a real pork treat.

Igado featuring pork heart and stomach.

Bopis was a delicious combination of beef heart, lungs and diced vegetables. 

Lutong Pinoy on Urbanspoon

17048 West Dixie Highway North Miami Beach, FL 33160