Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Champions League Finals @ Pubbelly 6/6/15

Good news soccer and Pubbelly fans. Pubbelly will be open for the Champions League Finals - Juventus vs. Barcelona on Saturday, June 6. They have created a special Spanish tapas menu (above) that will complement a wide selection of craft beers and boutique wines from across the globe.

The menu is available starting at 1:00 p.m. until the end of the match and reservations will be accepted at a minimum $30/person (to be spent on food and beverage).

1418 20th Street

Miami Beach, FL 33139


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Cobaya Chang @ The Vagabond 5.18.15


Cobaya Miami experiment #53 was a knockout. It featured 25 year old rising star, Alex Chang, the youngest chef to enter the Cobaya Kitchen. It was an impressive display of culinary vision and skills from start to finish. Make no mistake, this 25 year old is a special talent.

Alex and his team working hard prepping for the guinea pigs.

I recently wrote about Alex and his new spot, Vagabond Restaurant & Bar located on Biscayne Blvd. in Miami's MiMo District so I'll keep this brief. In a nutshell, Alex was a natural fit for a Cobaya Dinner. While we were organizing underground and experimental dinners in Miami, he was doing similar things out on the west coast. Except he was doing the cooking and running a popular underground restaurant out of his apartment while attending USC. It subsequently became the subject of an entertaining documentary called Paladar.

Alex's dishes are diverse. He's clearly tapped into his Mexican-Chinese background along with his worldly travels for inspiration and innovation. Subsequent to graduating from USC he moved to Japan where he worked at one of the The Worlds 50 Best , Les Creations de Narisawa in Tokyo. He followed that up with stints at prestigious spots, Pujol in Polanco, Mexico, In De Wulf in Heuvelland, Belgium and Animal in Los Angeles.

Alex's Cobaya Dinner was a thoroughly enjoyable meal. It was creative, featured wonderfully balanced flavors and exhibited finesse. His execution was sharp, his progression was proper and most importantly everything tasted really great.

He can flat out cook. Alex is already one of the best chefs in town. Go pay him and his talented crew a visit.

The calm before the guinea pig storm.

Triggerfish tataki, charred onion dashi, bronze fennel, key lime

Alex seared the triggerfish rare and paired it with a charred onion and kombu dashi. It was topped with key limes that were salt cured for 30 days and pureed with honey and brown butter.  A very flavorful start.

Mango, umeboshi, soy milk, shiso

This may have been the dish of the night.  The wonderful mangoes were foraged from Lemon City Park and salted for three weeks and then dried for two days.  They sat on a delicious soy milk yuzu panna cotta.  It was topped with umeboshi made from green mangoes and finished with julienned shiso and scallions and fried shallots.

Royal red shrimp, florida seaweeds, beef tendon, chicken jus

This was another outstanding dish.  Here, royal reds from the gulf of Florida were seasoned with salt and dried sargassum foraged in Key Biscayne.  They were paired with a green puree made from Key Biscayne sea purslane.  Alex finished the dish with speckled romaine, beef tendon chicharron, brown butter chicken jus and pieces of raw sea purslane. Boom.

Goat loins in the house

Smoked goat loin, mulberry, cucumber, goats milk

Alex cold smoked and then grilled the goat loins.  A goat jus was made from the carcasses of goat, veal stock and finished by blending mulberries and a house-made mulberry vinegar.  It was paired with reduced goats milk and finished with fermented swiss chard stems and mouse melons.

Goat barbacoa, guajillo, cassoulet bean, avocado

This dish featured the legs, shoulders and necks that were braised in guajillo chilis, maguey leaves, onion and garlic. Once ready, the meat was rolled into a torchon and seared on the plancha. It was paired with a cold bean salad consisting of cassoulet beans, cucumber, serrano chili and lime juice. Guacamole and amaranth leaves rounded out the dish.

Elderflower, reduced whey, cucumber, tomatillo

Chef Alex's dessert may have stolen the show.  It was a tasty and refreshing combination featuring a trifecta of elderflowers.  Reduced whey and elderflower ice cream sat atop tomatillo jam and was paired with a cucumber and elderflower granita.  Fresh elderflowers were sprinkled on top. Bam.

Vagabond Restaurant


Monday, May 18, 2015

Charity Wire - THE OBIES A Taste of South Flroida 5.29.15

Over the years, the Orange Bowl Committee has given millions of dollars back to the South Florida Community through its economic impact, support of events, organizations and causes, as well as its support of intercollegiate athletics and higher education.  At last year’s event, approximately $100,000 was given back to the South Florida community.

Top South Florida restaurants and chefs will have an opportunity to provide tastings and optional pairings. A panel of judges comprised of South Florida’s top foodies and culinary celebs will vote to determine a Miami-Dade County restaurant winner, a Broward County restaurant winner, a dessert winner and an overall “Flavor of South Florida” winner. In addition, each event attendee will also have a chance to cast their vote to award the People’s Choice Award winner!.

Proceeds for the OBIES go toward the Make-A-Wish Southern Florida, Special Olympics Florida and the Orange Bowl the Leadership and Academy, which launched a pilot program in the Fall of 2014.

You can purchase tickets HERE.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Top Restaurants Miami

                                                        TOP TEN

As I've indicated in the past, this list is chef and food driven. But beverage/wine programs, service, management, ambiance, value and overall experience all play significant roles.

The influx of quality new restaurants has made the rankings even more difficult.  But I put a lot of meals and thought into these rankings in order to provide you with an accurate assessment of the current restaurant scene in town.

There have been a lot of recent openings with several more on the way.  Thus, I am going to be updating this page often so make sure to check back to stay current.

I limited the list this time to the Top Ten in order to pay tribute to the chefs and restaurants that are doing outstanding jobs.

These are the Best of the Best in town.

**** Oolite & Khong River House are closed ****
**** Tongue & Cheek closed. The Cypress Room now Cypress Tavern****

1. Naoe

1a. Bourbon Steak

3. Makoto

4. The Bazaar
5. The Dutch  *chef left

6. Macchialina

7. Michael Mina 74  *chef left

8. Vagabond

9. Proof Pizza & Pasta

10. Michael's Genuine Food & Drink

10. Edge Steak & Bar

10. Pubbelly

Missed the Top Ten but are highly recommend.

Joe's Stone CrabLucali27Hakkasandb Bistro Moderne, CorsairMignonetteLa MarMC KitchenYakko-SanMilosMandolinSugarcane Raw Bar Grill, TimoMomiSushi Deli, Panya Thai, King Palace Chinese BBQ, NIU Kitchen, Blue Collar, Salumeria 104, Sardinia, Wolfgang's, The River Oyster Bar, Meat Market, Petit Rouge, Basil ParkMacaluso'sThe Forge

New and To Do -  Cena by Michy, Coya, Seagrape, Morimoto (closed), Matador Room, Beach Craft, Cleo, Stripsteak, Quality MeatsEl Cielo, Klima, Fooq's, Fresh American Bistro, Magic Garden, Bistro Casis, Bagatelle, Taquiza, Beachcraft, Byblos, The Golden Fig, The Continental, Red Ginger, Midtown Oyster Bar, Soho Bay, Driftwood Room, Cypress Tavern, Beaker & Gray.  OY!!!!!

Prominent and potentially rank worthy but not visited or need to get back   Zuma, The Setai, Lure, The Federal, Verde, Eating House and Palme d'Or.

Need to return and re-rank because of chef changes - Scarpetta, Michael Mina 74, Bocce, J&G Grill, Azul & Toscana Divino.

Coming Soon - Izzy's (open), PB Station, BaZi (open), Talde (open) Le Zoo (open), Jaya (open) Los Fuegos, Pao at the Dome.

Cross the border(s) recommendations- Buccan, Cafe Boulud, Pizzeria Oceano, Hot & Soul, Blue Willy's, Valentino's.

Best of Breed and highly recommended.

Pizza Parlor NY Slice - Kings County
Pizza - Lucali
Stone Crabs - Joe's duh
Charcuterie - db Bistro Moderne & Quality Meats
Pasta - Macchialina (hat tip Proof Pizza)
Bagel - Bagel Cove (but drive the extra 10 minutes and cross the border to Sage)
Chinese - King Palace Chinese BBQ & Hakkasan.
Thai - Panya
Sushi - See rankings. *Neighborhood spot - Sushi Deli.
Healthy - Basil Park
Juice - Raw Republic & Jugo Fresh
Mexican - Cheen Huaye (cross the border to Chapultepec)
Japanese Izikaya - Yakko-San
Oysters - River Oyster Bar, Mignonette & The Dutch
Meatballs - Macaluso's
Calzone - Lucali
Coffee - Panther (hat tip Alaska Roasting Company)
Butcher - Proper Sausages
Falafel - Pita Plus (on the border Falafel Benny's)
Israeli  - Etzel Itzik
Fast Casual - gastroPod & My Ceviche
Fast Food Burger - Shake Shack
Restaurant Burger - MM74 & Bourbon Steak
Fast Casual Burger - gastropod & Pincho Factory
Dim Sum - Hakkasan
Best Steak - Bourbon Steak
Dessert - The Dutch & J&G Grill
Filipino - Lutong Pinoy
Uzbekistani - Chayhana Oasis
Vietnamese -  Cross the border to Pho 78. Basilic comin soon to N Miami Beach
Banh Mi - Cross the border to Pho 78 & 545 Banh Mi Cafe
Cocktails - Bourbon Steak & 27
Roti - LC Roti Shop
Ramen - Momi
Pastrami - Michael's Genuine & Josh's Deli
Fries - Bourbon Steak
Arepas - Avila Bistro
Chicharron - El Palacio de los Jugos
Ceviche - My Ceviche & La Mar
Catalan - NIU Kitchen
Sausage - My pants hat tip to Proper Sausages
Subs -  Cross the border to La Spada or Genco hat tip Le Sandwicherie
Korean - Cross the border Myung Ga.
French Bistro - Petit Rouge & Gourmet Diner
Special Occasion - The Cypress Room Bourbon Steak
Service - Bourbon Steak
Best Staple Dishes - BBQ Shrimp @ Oolite, Lil Oyster Sandwiches @ The Dutch, Chicken Liver Crostini @ Michael's Genuine Food & Drink.
Brunch - fuck brunch

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Cobaya Christopher Lee @ The Forge 4.28.15

The Forge

Chef Christopher Lee via The Forge

Cobaya Miami dinners are experimental and underground.  Thus, I can neither confirm nor deny the rumors that Jay-Z and/or Beyonce were in attendance.  But I can tell you that Cobaya #52 featured two culinary heavyweights.

Heavyweight number one featured The Forge, easily one of the most glamorous and legendary spots in Miami. Heavyweight number two featured an impressively decorated chef, Christopher Lee.

Chef Lee earned 2 Michelin stars while running the kitchen at Gilt in NYC. He earned another Michelin Star wile at Aureole.  He also won a James Beard Award in 2005 for "Rising Star Chef of the Year."  He followed that up with a 2006 James Beard Nomination for "Best Chef Mid-Atlantic."  That same year he won Food and Wine Magazine Best New Chef Award (which is a very reliable source for identifying talented chefs). In 2007 he won Star Chefs Rising Star Chef Award.

Impressive credentials indeed.  And credentials some young local chefs should aspire to achieve. They require hard work and dedication to the craft.

Chef Lee is an old school chef with old school techniques. And that is fine because his dishes shine.

His impressive credentials obviously made him an ideal candidate to enter the Cobaya Kitchen.  Chef Lee embraced and enjoyed the spirit of Cobaya.  He created a menu that was classic in nature  yet featured modern twists.

It was an enjoyable meal from start to finish and included some standout dishes.  The Black Truffle and Foie Gras Raviolo was a knockout dish for me.  And my table raved about the John Dory, Pheasent, Super Steak and Venison.

Sommelier Gino Santangelo did a wonderful job pairing wines with the diverse menu. Pastry chef Alycia Delaney delivered great desserts just hours before giving birth.

As expected from The Forge, service was as good as it gets.

This was my first visit to The Forge and the first time I've had Chef Lee's food.  It will not be my last.  
Big thanks to Chef Lee and the entire staff at The Forge for a wonderful night.  And thanks to all the Guinea Pigs out there for your continued interest and support.

See you at #53.

 The Library via The Forge
The Calm before the Guinea Pig Storm….

View from my seat in the library

The Library is a great room and it was a perfect setting for the guinea pigs.


baby greens, bitter chocolate soil, orange fennel sorbet, goat cheese dressing

Mersault, Louis Latour, 2012

Geoduck Sashimi

green papaya, honeydew, toasted coriander, carrot ginger dressing

Mersault, Louis Latour, 2012

Black Truffle & Foie Gras Raviolo

Gewurztraminer, Trimbach, 2011

New Zealand John Dory

vegetables cubes, chicken liver jus

Far Niente Chardonnay, Napa Valley 2013

Pheasant (two ways)

pistachio nuts, green grapes, epoisses cheese, black pepper honey jus

Far Niente Chardonnay, Napa Valley 2013

35 Day Dry Aged New York “Super” Steak

“backyard BBQ” (watermelon & grilled slaw)

Duckhorn Merlot, Napa Valley, 2012

Coffee Crusted Venison

parsnip, mustard greens, spiced nuts, chocolate vadouvan jus

Duckhorn Merlot, Napa Valley, 2012

Roasted Coconut & Passion Fruit Vacherin

macadamia nut soil, honeycomb, coconut meringue

Moscato D'Asti Ruffino, 2012

Dark Chocolate Soup

ginger panna cotta, dehydrated chocolate mousse, bitter orange

Moscato D'Asti Ruffino, 2012

One more sweet treat(s) before we left.

 The Forge on Urbanspoon

Address: 432 W 41st St, Miami Beach, FL 33140

Phone:(305) 538-8533