Kris Wessel, Chef/Owner of Oolite Restaurant and Bar - Miami Beach - sophisticated yet healthy, gluten free dishes with unprocessed ingredients

Chef Kris Wessel, a 3rd generation Floridian raised in New Orleans, and a renowned  restaurateur in Miami, recently opened Oolite on Miami Beach, off Lincoln Road, next to the Fillmore Theater, and across the street from the Miami Convention Center.  The James Beard nominated chef and his partners have housed  the 284-seat healthy dining restaurant  – Oolite received 3.5 stars in the Miami Herald and raves from – in a Frank Gehry building with an Urban Chic atmosphere,  warm woods, sleek design, a large bar and an adjacent Jazz club.

The focus of the sophisticated global menu is healthy, gluten free, dishes using local and unprocessed ingredients, prepared with time tested-approaches to production including slow cooking, poaching, steaming, smoking, grilling, dehydrating and preserving.

From sandwiches to desserts, nothing on the menu contains gluten--not even the spaghetti or the flat breads.

Listen as chef Kris Wessel describes the philosophy behind his menu.




pork belly





 Azul, at Mandarin Oriental, Miami has appointed William Crandall as chef de cuisine.  Prior to joining Azul where he worked with the previous chefs, Chef Crandall worked at the acclaimed NoMi restaurant in Chicago under Michelin-starred Chef Andrew Zimmerman.

The dinner menu opens with an “On The Rocks” section offering of assorted shellfish and caviars; a fitting nod to the restaurant’s  waterfront setting on Biscayne Bay.  “Beginnings,” ranging from $16 to $30 include items such as  Crispy Sweetbreads  with nuac cham, radish, mustard seed and Asian pear ($21) and  Steak & Eggs’ Tartare  with wild mushroom, Comté cheese, parsley, garlic bread and 63 degree quail eggs ($24).

Main courses ranging from $39 to $65 reflect Crandall’s approach to marrying Asian and French cuisine. On the menu  Truffled Salmon  with beurre rouge, beluga lentils and burgundy mustard ($44),  Kurobuta Pork Belly with tenderloin, pumpernickel, braised cabbage and  rainbow carrot ($47); 62° Maine Lobster  with peas, truffle, radish, sal de gusano and country ham ($60), and  Cheeks  Bourguignon  with veal, black grouper, ras el hanout and roots ($47). 

dessertSweet Endings ranging from $12 to a shared sampler for $25 are desserts by Executive Pastry Chef Frederic Monnet, and  include  Rocky Road  with toasted marshmallow, creamy chocolate, almond and guanaja chocolate sorbet ($14) and  Cherry Bomb  with Meyer lemon cake, sour cherry, Opalys white chocolate gelato ($12).  For the table, enjoy a “Dessert Sampler,” which includes the Cherry Bomb, Irish Coffee Cube, Key Lime Clouds, gelato and sorbet ($25).

The wine list by Wine Director Todd Phillips who has also worked with previous chefs at Azul includes an amazing selection of renowned wines and wines from boutique wineries worldwide.

At a recent tasting  an Applewood smoked lettuce was paired with an aromatic and crisp Domaine Ciringa Sauvignon Blanc from Slovenia;  the Terrine of Hudson Valley Foie Gras with a Jorge Ordoñez & Co. Moscatel from Malaga, Spain;  the 62° Maine Lobster  with peas, truffle, radish, sal de gusano and country ham paired well with an Angelo Negro Roero Arneis from  Piedmont Italy; and the Kurobuta Pork Belly with a Domaine Conte Abbatucci Faustine from Corsica.  Dessert: The Rocky Road with toasted marshmallow, creamy chocolate, almond and guanaja chocolate sorbet was paired with a Braida Brachetto d’Acqui from Piemont Italy.

The restaurant’s new decor is comprised of  a private chef’s table overlooking the restaurant’s open white marble kitchen, accommodating parties up to 12.

Azul is located at Mandarin Oriental, Miami, 500 Brickell Key Drive.  It is opened for dinner only from 7pm – 11pm (Tuesday through Saturday) and the bar is open from 6:30pm – 11pm (Tuesday through Saturday). Reservations:   (305) 913 8358 or .  Valet parking; all major credit cards accepted.

balans dadeland 61 of 113Owned and operated by entrepreneur Prady Balan since 1997, Balans has opened its fifth outpost, a 151-seat indoor and 65-seat outdoor brasserie with full bar (including beer on tap), TV’s, free Wi-Fi, on the second floor in the trendy new shopping wing of the Dadeland Mall, where it will serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner , late-night entertainment at affordable prices.

The menu by Executive Head Chef, David Welch, winner of the South Beach Food and Wine Festival in 2013 for “Best Bite on the Beach”, features favorites such as the Indonesian Noodles, the Balans Burger, and the newly added braised short ribs as well as comfort foods like the truffle mac & cheese, healthy options like the Baja chicken/shrimp salad or steak and eggs. Additionally, Chef David crafted a special menu just for kid’s that offers health conscious dishes like hummus, pita bread & grapes and spaghetti with turkey meatballs, while side dishes range from steamed broccoli to a Caesar salad.

Balans Dadeland is located at the Dadeland Mall Fashion Wing, 7501 N. Kendall Drive - Unit 2570. Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner served daily and at all times. Sunday – Wednesday, opened from 8 a.m. – 10 p.m. Thursday, 8 a.m. – 11p.m. Friday – Saturday, 8 a.m. – midnight. Happy Hour, Everyday 3 – 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. - close. (305) 534-9191




Too busy or too lazy to go shopping?  Tired of the old order-in options in your neighborhood?

There’s an App for that too!

“Check and Cook” will help you whip up something  delicious with whatever you have in your refrigerator!

The “Check and Cook”   iPhone/iPad application – the brainchild of  Pierre Louis Sauvaige – launches on 20th June 2014 at the AppStore .

How it works? Just type in  your fridge’s contents (one egg, old cheese, half a tomato, a wilted carrot….)  the ingredients that you already have at hand, then shake your iPhone / iPad and see all the recipes you can cook !

Thanks to an elaborated algorithm, Check and Cook searches through more than 41 000 recipes for one you like and can make based on what you have in your fridge without having to spend another cent.

Not only does Check and Cook offer you a huge recipe directory, it reinvents the way you cook by adding your own recipes and share them with other Check and Cook’s users.  When you do your grocery list the app will also tell you what you can make with every new ingredient you add.



  • More than 41 000 recipes with pictures
  • Share your own recipes to the community
  • Enjoy other’s recipes and try it at home
  • No more wasting food : Cook with ingredient that you already have !
  • Take advantage of the Grocery List and forget to forget what to buy !
  • Share your recipes on Facebook, Twitter…
  • The application is available on all iPhone and iPad version


Chef Philippe Ruiz is no longer the chef at Lippi on Brickell. The executive chef who had reached international kudos at the Palme d’Or and as executive chef at The Bilmore in Coral Gables, had opened Lippi seven months ago.  The cited reason:  fundamental misunderstandings have strained relationships with the owners – Mr Puri is also a co-owner of Zuma, explained Mr. Ruiz.  

Management gave bonuses to all the sous-chefs and plans to redecorate the recently opened restaurant.

michael shikany

There's a new contender in Miami's gastronomic arena:  Executive Chef MichaelShikany has opened his eponymous eatery, SHIKANY Wynwood,  in the Wynwood Arts District of Miami. The 130-seats, 4,000 square-foot  indoor/outdoor space  serves as a restaurant, a cocktail/tapas lounge and bar and a creative culinary space where he will schedule morning and evening cooking classes open to the public.

A graduate with honors from the French Culinary Institute (New York City) and a BA in Business Administration from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., Shikany, who is a Miami native of Lebanese and Italian descent, credits his Italian granddad for his love of cuisine

Shikany, honed his skills at Le Bernardin, Babbo, Tao, Gramercy Tavern, and the James Beard House in New York city before coming to Miami to work at Ortanique for 6 years, and to open La Cofradia and Sushi Samba on Lincoln Road and their restaurants branches in Las Vegas.

Striking out on his own, he opened his own Event company and his own Consulting firm through which he opened a score of restaurants in New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

Shikany said that he is the sole owner of the restaurant and he will wear many if not all the hats, doing  everything from menu development to décor. An award-winning sommelier who won the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence 2007 for his boutique wine list at La Cofradia, Shikany also picks the wine and spirits list. “We have a great list from small batch vineyards from around the world and a wine-by-the-glass program which we plan to change every week,” he said.

The menu pulls from Shikany’s  training in some of the  country’s most prestigious dining institutions and lists  simple dishes like a Duck Fat Poached Black Cod with japachae, shimeji, nigori coconut milk jus, lotus root and yolk and a Kona Kampachi Sashimi/ Maple Foie prepared with black truffle caviar, shiso, cilantro, yuzu tobiko, lychee pearl, crispy daikon and clementine injection. Or a take on surf-&-Turf:   Scallop & Sweetbreads with cauliflower pain, Licor 43, lemon grass beurre blanc, vanilla cotton candy and ice plant.

Desserts by Pastry Chef  Jill Montinola play on ying-and-yang , sweet and savory with sweets like the Pineapple Crémeux with pistachio financier, garam masala crumble and Thai basil ice cream,  Textures of Chocolate Verrine, Caribe chocolate cream, cocoa nib powder, caramel chocolate rock, pretzel mousse and coco tuile.

Shikany plans to change the à la carte menu every month and will offer a daily 8 - 20 course degustation or tasting menu of 8 and 20-course with a set price menu ranging from $110 to $160 per person at the 24-seats communal chef’s table Thursday through Saturday. There will be  two 24-person sittings per night. He also plans to pamper vegetarian with special dishes and tasting menus with 48-hour advance notice.

SHIKANY Wynwood, is  open for dinner in main dining room Tuesday through Thursday, 6:00pm to 11:00pm; and Friday and Saturday, 6:00pm to 1:00am.,  Cocktail/Tapas Lounge and Bar open 5:30 pm -11pm and till 1 a.m. on weekends; for scheduled cooking and mixology classes  Tuesday & Wednesday (morning + evening sessions), in addition to offering Catering, Private and Corporate Events + Team Building. 251 NW 25 St, Miami, FL 33127, (305) 979-8052



soba tuna salad

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When a new venue such as the Traymore Restaurant and Bar at Metropolitan by COMO hires Sergio Caceres, the former F&B manager at db Bistro Moderne in downtown Miami,  as the hotel’s restaurant and bar manager, they mean business.

barThe newly opened Metropolitan by COMO, Miami Beach, the Singapore-based hotel group’s first venture in the United States only aims for the best for their quaint 78-room hotel with a state-of-the-art spa  and a seafood restaurant.  

The Executive Chef is Jonathan Lane, formerly Executive Chef at the Four Seasons Hotel in Las Vegas, Chicago, Dallas and New York and at  Benny’s Chop House in Chicago, the Executive Pastry Chef is Portuguese-French born, Emmanuel Alves, and the company lured Spanish-born Javier Beneytos from the five-star Grand Luxe Villa Magna Hotel – a member of Leading Hotels of the World – to become the Hotel general manager.

The seashore property, once a hospital during WWII, had remained empty for decades  but is now alive with modern design,  good food and a center stage bar.  This is Miami’s first  ‘Gin Bar,’ I was told. It not only offers  up to 40 different brands of domestic and international premium gin, but a vast selection of  seasonal cocktails,  non-alcoholic fruit cocktails and low-calorie cocktails, along with spirits, wines and a signature menu selection of small bites prepared by Executive Chef Jonathan Lane.

While the wine list presents no quandaries, the menu is enticing  with offerings of fresh raw seafood platters  groaning with oysters, crabs, shrimp and lobster, grilled seafood dishes like the fork-tender and typically Mediterranean Grilled jumbo octopus with potatoes, olives and salsa verde ($16) or beautifully seasoned and well-balanced salads  such as the Salad of buttery Maine Lobster with blood orange, watermelon radish and  treviso ($20), as well as a good selection of entrees.

From the tempting offering of seafood stew and Garganelli with Peekytoe Crab, zucchini, mint and chili pasta ($24) or Olive oil poached Halibut with sunchokes, broad bean, olives and lemon ($28) , I picked a perfectly cooked, succulent Whole Roast Lemon Grouper ( $40 for two) with a side of broccoli rabe and another of Brussels sprouts sprinkled with roasted and crunchy slivered almonds. While there are plenty of vegetarian choices and for the meat lovers  a Char grilled dried aged New York Striploin with bone marrow butter, roast shallots and red wine butter sauce ($38), I opted for an item on the COMO Shambhala Cuisine menu – the refreshing and zesty Asian-inspired  Chilled Soba Noodles with raw Yellowfin tuna, seaweed and avocado  ($16).

The Shambhala menu developed by the COMO Group’s Executive Chef, Amanda Gale, uses organic and locally sourced ingredients, natural sweeteners and  no dairy,  to boost concentration and energy, and balance blood-sugar levels. So the food is delicious and good for you too!

It would definitely be sinful to leave without a couple of fruit-based desserts by master chocolatier and Executive pastry chef Emmanuel Alves: i.e. the sesame crusted crunchy cannoli with passion fruit cream and mango salad or the fruit paste stuffed macaroons with berry salad, or  citrus-flavored ice creams and  sorbets.

Guests can also enjoy an outdoor bar menu –  a selection of seafood bites, salads, pastas and brick oven Pizzetta  or the COMO Shambhala Wellness Juices ($9 each) , an exclusive menu of more than a dozen cold-pressed natural juices designed to replenish and rejuvenate – served throughout the day at the hotel’s poolside cabanas.

Traymore Restaurant and Bar at the Metropolitan by COMO, is open daily for breakfast, l;unch and dinner  Miami Beach,2445 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach,   305.695.3555


The official last day of Tiramesù on Lincoln Road is Sunday, April 27th.

After celebrating Tiramesù’s 25th-year anniversary, 17 of which on Lincoln Road, co-owner Graziano Sbroggio decided to temporarily close its doors on Sunday, April 27th, and to move the restaurant to 101 Washington Avenue, South of Fifth, after the summer. “South of Fifth is a growing dining destination and I’m very excited to be in the same neighborhood of many successful and internationally renowned restaurants,” said Graziano Sbroggio.   “The new TiramesU will welcome its patrons with the same warm and friendly atmosphere, offering classic Italian cuisine with a modern twist,” he added.

27-year old Executive Chef Fabrizio Pintus is already working on a new menu while keeping the signature dishes and homemade pastas. Valeria Longoni, General Manager, will become a co-owner in the new restaurant: “ Good food served with thoughtful care and consistent passion has been the key to our success,” she said.

Tiramesù opened its doors to customers in 1988 on the corner of Ocean Drive and 5th Avenue. It experienced early success and in 1997 was relocated to 721 Lincoln Road. It is owned and managed by Graspa Group, headed by Graziano Sbroggio, which includes Spris, Segafredo, Salumeria 104, Spris Artisan Pizza Downtown and Spris Artisan Pizza Midtown. For more information: .

Restaurateurs Umberto Sorbo (Sorbo Restaurant Group; English Cellar Alehouse, Coco Pazzo, Succotash, Brutopia) and Stephan Fortier (The Fortier Creative Group; Tosca Miami, Maison D'azur Miami, Pazza Notte NYC, Loft NYC) have joined forces to create La Gazzetta an indoor /outdoor Dolce Vita era-style Italian Cafe with fountains and an outdoor movie theater in the Mary Brickell Village.

The menu lists tapas-style light Italian Riviera fare – truffle linguine, burrata, grilled sirloin pizzette –with touches of International influences and a varied wine bar offering a large selection of wines served by the keg, the glass or the bottle.(

La Gazzetta is open for lunch and dinner  Mon - Thur 11:30AM – Midnight, till 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturdays, Sunday from  12:30PM - 11PM and for weekday Happy Hour with 2 for 1 Martinis. 1010 S Miami Ave, 305-523-2393,


Tap 79 Bar and Grill opens in Miami’s MIMO district

After 8 years of success in the Miami Arts District with bin 18, restaurateur and Chef Alfredo Patiño, is now opening Tap 79 an elegant pub with indoor/outdoor seating and a bar that seats up to 25 people.

Tap 79  offers an ample selection of craft beers  with 8 beers on draft including Leffe, Bell’s Two Hearted Ale, Fat Tire and  an additional 22 beers by the bottle of mostly microbrews from USA and Belgium.  The menu lists a wide variety of dishes ranging  from small bites to entrees,  including house-cured beef jerky, crispy mango habanero wings, truffle mac & cheese topped with chicharron shavings, house-made Tap 79 burger, short ribs served over creamy polenta and a fresh catch of the day.  Chef Alfredo Patiño, who lives nearby, said, “The concept was created after driving home on 79th street many nights and not having a place to stop for a good beer and bite to eat. I always felt there was a culinary void in the area and with development of the Mimo and 79th street area on the horizon I felt I wanted to be involved in revitalizing the area.”

Tap 79 is open Monday through Friday, 4 pm to 11 pm and Saturdays and Sundays Noon to 11 pm.  Ample street parking.  1079 NE.79 Street, Miami, FL 33138.

 Chef Dewey LoSasso has opened  the 170-seat AQ at the seaside Five Star and AAA Five Diamond Acqualina Resort & Spa on the Beach with an open dining room, an outdoor veranda and a raised bar.  The menu draws inspiration and flavors from Mediterranean, Latin and Asian cuisines among others, with locally-sourced produce and ingredients.

Starters ($8-$19) include cured snapper croquetas served over thinly sliced pear, pecorino cheese, finished with olive oil and peppercorns; rough falafel fritters with ricotta smear, crispy olives and sliced prosciutto; and broccoli rabe and grapefruit salad tossed in a charred onion dressing with a pinch of black salt. Crostini and other Small Plates ($6-$12),  for sharing, include sunflower crostini with spaghetti squash topped with St. André cheese and crispy onions; red and white quinoa salad tossed with dried cherries, lemon and olive oil; and chicken and basil meatballs served with a red salad of radicchio, red cabbage, and sundried tomato, tossed in an apple cider vinegar.

Entrées ($16-$38) list  grilled salmon served with horseradish mash and house-pickled crudité, garnished with a radish shoot salad; pan-seared local black grouper served with celery root and apple cakes over a carrot-pomegranate reduction; and grilled skirt steak sliced and served atop a bed of wild boar black beans with foie gras tostones.    In addition to the menu there is a full raw bar and a sushi menu and desserts made in-house by pastry chef Rodney Barchi.

AQ by Acqualina is open Sunday – Thursday, 5:30 – 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5:30 – 11 p.m.  inside Acqualina Resort & Spa on the Beach,  17875 Collins Avenue in Sunny Isles Beach, (305) 918-6816. .

 Chef Dewey LoSasso has opened  the 170-seat AQ at the seaside Five Star and AAA Five Diamond Acqualina Resort & Spa on the Beach with an open dining room, an outdoor veranda and a raised bar.  The menu draws inspiration and flavors from Mediterranean, Latin and Asian cuisines among others, with locally-sourced produce and ingredients.

Starters ($8-$19) include cured snapper croquetas served over thinly sliced pear, pecorino cheese, finished with olive oil and peppercorns; rough falafel fritters with ricotta smear, crispy olives and sliced prosciutto; and broccoli rabe and grapefruit salad tossed in a charred onion dressing with a pinch of black salt. Crostini and other Small Plates ($6-$12),  for sharing, include sunflower crostini with spaghetti squash topped with St. André cheese and crispy onions; red and white quinoa salad tossed with dried cherries, lemon and olive oil; and chicken and basil meatballs served with a red salad of radicchio, red cabbage, and sundried tomato, tossed in an apple cider vinegar.

Entrées ($16-$38) list  grilled salmon served with horseradish mash and house-pickled crudité, garnished with a radish shoot salad; pan-seared local black grouper served with celery root and apple cakes over a carrot-pomegranate reduction; and grilled skirt steak sliced and served atop a bed of wild boar black beans with foie gras tostones.    In addition to the menu there is a full raw bar and a sushi menu and desserts made in-house by pastry chef Rodney Barchi.

AQ by Acqualina is open Sunday – Thursday, 5:30 – 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5:30 – 11 p.m.  inside Acqualina Resort & Spa on the Beach,  17875 Collins Avenue in Sunny Isles Beach, (305) 918-6816. .

Barry Alberts, 60, the well-known wine maven who hosted Friday nights wine tastings and wine and food pairings in different restaurants and hotels in South Florida and taught wine seminars at charity events, died on Saturday, April 5, when he crashed his silver Acura on I-95 on his way to his Coconut Grove home from a wine event in Boca Raton.

He will be missed by scores of wine aficionados and friends,

According to the Miami Herald, Alberts is survived by sister Cheri Alberts Snelton of Illinois and brother Michael Alberts. He also leaves two children, a 14-year-old daughter, Lexi, who lives in Miami, and 26-year-old Chad. Services will be held Friday at 3 p.m. at the Women’s Club of Coconut Grove, 2985 South Bayshore Drive.



 Tucked in a cozy 30-seat space – and perhaps 12 outdoor seats once they get the permit – Uvaggio (meaning ‘wine blend’ in Italian) Wine Bar and restaurant is easy to miss, especially since owner Craig De Wald and his partner, sommelier  Heath Porter, haven’t yet managed to hang a sign.

With bright walls and a great bar that dominates the space, Uvaggio is an intimate temple to wine.

Over 100 bottles crowd the temperature controlled small space and everyday there are at least 20 bottles of wine to be served by the glass (3 oz. pour at $4.50 and 6 oz pours start at $9.00).

The way they can achieve this, says sommelier Heath Porter, who developed world-class wine programs at 5 stars and 5 Diamond resorts nationwide, is by using the Coravin, a gadget which enables you to actually pour the wine without opening the bottle. “It allows you to pour interesting wines without having to waste them,” he said of the qualities he and Mr. De Wald seek in the wines they buy.” We look for small terroir-driven wineries that make wines representing the character of the region they come from, like wines from biodynamic, organic or sustainable vineyards, among others.”

After many months of tasting,  Mr. De Wald who lived in many different cities as a Human Resources executive with American Express for over 26 years,   studied in-depth the interplay of aromas, textures and tastes and began putting together his concept of “tasting backwards: ” a wine list that would pair well with different dishes  that complement the tastes, aromas and textures of the wines.

 He hired chef Brett Pelaggi, a graduate of the New England culinary School who worked at l’Espalier, Chiara, and Kingfish Hall in the Boston area, and who has completed a Top Chef show,  to put together a simple and inexpensive menu of cheeses, cold cuts, salads, stews and desserts.

Uvaggio Wine Bar is open daily beginning 6 p.m. 70 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables. 305-448-2400.


diego oka


 Mandarin Oriental, Miami and celebrity chef Gastón Acurio have officially opened La Mar by Gastón Acurio at the Five-Star city resort. Considered ‘the ambassador of Peruvian cuisine,’ Acurio continues to gain culinary acclaim with his unique restaurants which rank among the best in the world.  The opening of La Mar by Gastón Acurio in Miami marks the third Acurio restaurant in the U.S., following sister concepts La Mar Cebicheria in San Francisco and Tanta in Chicago.

At La Mar, previously Café Sambal, there’s a mix of indoor and outdoor waterfront seating with three lively bars providing distinctive culinary experiences. La Mar Executive Chef Diego Oka provides a personal look into the creation of authentic Peruvian dishes ranging from upscale novo-Andean fare to Asian-Peruvian fusion and traditional seafood Ceviche. Having worked alongside Acurio for more than a decade, Chef Oka introduces an eclectic menu offering small plates such as Nikei, Peruvian nigiri; Anticucho Grill items; and tapas-style Piqueos. Large plates include a selection of Peruvian Specialties and pan-fried rice called Arroces.



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“We are extremely excited to introduce the spirit of Peruvian food culture to the vibrant city of Miami,” says Chef Gastón Acurio. “Our new La Mar by Gastón Acurio restaurant pays tribute to the sea with a beautiful waterfront location and the freshest local seafood on the menu.”

The dedicated Ceviche and Anticucho bars invite guests to journey through La Mar’s celebrated menu. Ceviches and Tiraditos utilize the cooking technique of curing fish through citric juices and are presented in 15 different dishes priced from USD 9 to USD 29.

Creations range from the Clásico with fluke, cilantro, aji limo, red onions, choclo and leche de tigre to the Bachiche with scallops, avocado, and garlic-truffle leche de tigre.

The culinary journey continues with Anticuchos, a popular Peruvian street food. Priced from USD 9 to USD 30, Anticuchos are reinvented with varieties of Wagyu, Free Range Chicken, Octopus, Whole Jumbo Prawn and a vegetarian option of Peruvian Asparagus. 

A selection of Causa dishes, mashed potato dumplings topped with seafood, are served four different ways to include the Nikei (rocoto causa with tuna tartare); Cangrejo (beet causa with crab); Escabeche (potato with crispy snapper) and Olivo (potato with octopus tartare).  Peruvian Specialties range in price from USD 19 to USD 49 and highlight the cuisine’s rich Japanese influences with dishes like Lomo Saltado, a traditional beef dish with stir fried potatoes, red onions, tomatoes, soy sauce, cilantro, aji amarillo and rice, and Whole Fish Nikei, the catch-of-the-day, prepared with Peruvian Japanese spicy sauce, bok choy and white chaufa broccoli rice.

La Mar’s comprehensive cocktail menu includes a list of Peruvian Classics, featuring cocktails infused with pisco, a South American grape brandy, and La Mar Classics, offering iconic cocktails with a Peruvian twist. These signature drinks cost USD 13 each.

In celebration of La Mar’s opening, Mandarin Oriental, Miami has partnered with LAN Airlines to provide two round trip tickets from Miami to Lima in Premium Business class; dinner for two, with two pisco sours, at La Mar by Gastón Acurio at Mandarin Oriental, Miami; and lunch for two, with two pisco sours, at La Mar Cebicheria in Lima, Peru.  More details can be found by visiting




Chef Giorgio Rapicavoli and business partner Alex Casanova, the talented young duo behind Coral Gables’ foodie favorite Eating House, launch their latest concept Tapería Raca (Raca is the combination of the first two syllables of the owners’ last names), a casual and fun Spanish tapas restaurant and wine bar with brick lined walls, cardboard bullheads and a custom made mural seats 16 inside with 40 seats in the laidback outdoor garden., on Friday, March 28.  

Chef de Cuisine Ryan Harrison, previously of Preservation in Sunny Isles and Rapicavoli’s right-hand at the former pop-up Drinking Room,  will head the kitchen. The menu of classic and modern Spanish flavors with a whimsical flair for which Rapicavoli is so well known, consists of small plates to be shared throughout the day: Platos Fríos/Cold Dishes ($5-21) list Aceitunas Aliniadas- marinated Spanish olives; Paté de Higado- chicken liver mousse spiked with Pedro Ximenez, almonds and fig preserves; Pulpo a la Vinagreta- poached octopus; and Boquerones- white anchovies, roasted lemon, Florida citrus and herbs. Then come the Charcuterie and Cheese Plates served with grilled bread, olive oil, daily preserves and smoked honey. The Platos Calientes/Hot Dishes ($6-16) include spicy Patatas Bravas- fried, baked potatoes, garlic aioli and smoked tomato; Empanadas de Bacalao- savory dough pastries stuffed with salt cod, pickled garlic and potato; Alitas de Pato – duck wings with sweet/sour fig and pimenton salt; and Cachetes de Cerdo – tender pork cheek with mushrooms, potatoes and truffle. For desserts ($6-9) there are twists on classics such as Roasted Banana Crema Catalana; and Torrejas with Salted Caramel Ice Cream. Off-the-menu chef’s specials will also be available during lunch and dinner.

Sunday Brunch ($5-19) builds upon the existing menu with the addition of fun with items including Tortilla Chanchito with organic eggs, chorizo, Serrano ham, bacon and Manchego; Croquetas de Jamon- smoked and roasted ham, béchamel, and quince jam; Patatas Contentas – fried baked potatoes, black truffle and bacon; Huevos Rotos – fried eggs, aioli, charred tomato, potato and Serrano ham; Torrejas Café con Leche- Cuban bread French toast, Panther Coffee, cream and sugar; and Panqueques de Maiz y Durazno- cornmeal peach pancakes with peach syrup.

The Drinks Menu lists beers, white and red wines by the bottle and glass, along with wine and beer cocktails such as Sangria; Calimocho- a combination of red wine and Coca-Cola; and the refreshing Clara- a combination of draft beer and Sprite.

Taperia Raca,  7010 Biscayne Boulevard in the MiMo District is open Tuesday - Thursday, from 11:00AM - 10:00PM; Friday & Saturday, from 11:00AM - 11:00PM; and Sunday brunch from 11:00AM - 4:00PM. Metered street parking available and Karma carwash available for parking after 8 p.m.  305.751.8756. .

The sleek four-level glass and metal structure of the newest restaurant and lounge with an Orwellian numeric name, definitely adds a hyper modern look to this Art-Deco part of Collins Ave.

Each floor of the elegant 8,200 square ft. 1826 Restaurant & Lounge, the brainchild of owner Tagir Saydkuzhin, gets sleeker as you go up the fast and silent elevator.    Designed by Samy Chams of Prospect Design  – his portfolio includes the VIP Room in St Tropez, Baôli in Cannes and L’Arc Restaurant-Bar & Club in Paris –brushed concrete, warm woods, extravagant chandeliers and  bronze accents create a warm, welcoming environment with a fascinating ongoing view of the greatest show in town – South Beach at night.

While the hostesses at the reception desk are gorgeous, smart and helpful, and the wait staff hand-picked for its knowledge and affability, the star is undoubtedly the exquisite food at the hands of Chef Danny Grant and his team.

“I wanted to create a night spot that would combine the best food with the best music and the best service,” declared the Russian-native Mr. Saydkuzhin, for whom this is a first.   

The Michelin-starred chef Danny Grant,   formerly the Executive Chef of RIA and Balsan at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel Chicago  and was named Food & Wine best new chef  in 2012, was hired to create a 3-section seasonal  contemporary menu –  The Harvest, The Hook, The Hunt –  with local, regional and luxury ingredients.  The wine list by sommelier Zach Gossard – formerly wine director at The Fountainebleau’s Gotham Grill and Scarpetta – accessible in an iPad, is well chosen with moderately-priced bottles that pair well with the menu and with the desserts by Pastry chef Angela Ng – formerly of  L’Hermitage in Beverly Hills, CA .

Chef Grant loves highlighting simple ingredients to create complexly flavored dishes, all easy to share, and wepaired all the dishes with one wine:  a medium-bodied, austere yet lively  Château de Saint Cosme 2011, Gigondas, by Louis Barruol ($65) – a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Cinsault which did not overwhelm but brought out the delicate flavors of the dishes .

From the Harvest, there was the memorable Trumpet mushroom roasted and poached with panisse –  fried chickpea flour dumplings from northern Italy or the south of France –  sweet lobster and sauce vin jaune ($18); leek croquettes oozing Petit Basque cheese and potato and fragrant with black truffle ($10); a creamy and velvety Cucumber gazpacho with almond, dill and gin snow ($8) or the sinfully rich but worth every mouthful Périgord Black truffle risotto with Madeira, fine herbs and Robiola cheese emulsion ($58).

From The Hook, you can’t help get hooked with a King crab poached with bottarga, tagliolini and milk braised garlic or with green garkic, sweet corn and scallop dumplings ($16); Florida shrimp, roasted with Kataify –shredded Phyllo– in a mint coriander sabayon ($13) or Yellowfin tuna tartare with Heiloom tomatoe, black olive and basil ($19) or yet, a lobster lasagna with romaine, brioche and tomato preserve ($38).

From the Hunt section, there’s a well-seasoned beef tartare with red onion, celeriac and horseradishimg_03851($5), a delicate, creamy and deep-flavored egg and black garlic custard with Manchego cheese and jamón Ibérico in a Satsuma egg shell ($12); a pavé of foie gras with strawberry, young onion and liqueur St. Germain cut in four squares and accompanied by brioche toasts ($19); young chicken roasted and confited with garganelli pasta, black trumpet mushroom and a smooth and creamy sauce blanquette ($17); and a perfectly grilled slab of short rib with Jerusalem artichoke, Meyer lemon and roasted Brussels sprouts.

img_0402For dessert we chose an unforgettable lemon sorbet, tart and fragrant, set on two little cones, a deconstructed Key lime pie – that I had a hard time understanding – and a delicious chocolate mousse and cake with toasted meringue which enclosed, in different levels of texture, the very essence of chocolate.

Following dinner, the elevator climbs up to a handsome ultra-lounge on the third and fourth levels where the sound level and ambiance are what  the nightlife crowd is looking for, with the additional of a menu of late night plates prepared by Chef Grant to go along with mixed cocktails, spirits and bubblies.

1826, is a restaurant/lounge that combines moderate prices with outstanding ambiance, food, service, décor and will soon become a favorite. Chef Grant is a talent that will hook, hunt and harvest returning diners, like me.  Owner Tagir Saydkuzhin has spared no effort or money in this endeavor and has hit it right from the start.

1826 Restaurant & Lounge is open as follows: Main Dining Room: 6:00 pm-11:00 pm Sunday-Thursday / 6:00 pm-12:00 am Friday & Saturday; Bar/Lounge: 6:00 pm-12:00 am Sunday-Wednesday / 6:00 pm-01:00 am Thursday, Friday & Saturday. Eighteen Hundred Twenty Six Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139. 305.709.0000

Earls Kitchen + Bar will open its newest multi-dimensional location at South Florida’s Dadeland Mall on March 12. The 300-seat restaurant & lounge with a  sixteen-foot high marble wrapped entrance and an open kitchen, warm woods, banquettes, booth  and large communal tables and booths overlooks a wrap around, lushly landscaped outdoor terrace with seating for up to 100.

This is the 66th restaurant owned by Earls Restaurants Ltd. and the Fuller Group of Restaurants,   a family owned operation started by Montana native Leroy Earl (Bus) Fuller in 1982, with their first restaurant in Edmonton, Alberta. Earls is one of North America’s most successful, family-owned, independent restaurant groups, currently operating 65 restaurants - 61 of those in Canada and 4 in the United States (Denver, Colorado and Bellevue, Washington). Bus and his four sons own Earls Kitchen + Bar (Earls is not a franchise), operated by eldest son Stan Earl. They are planning to open a 67th location in Boston, MA, this spring.

With its fresh take on authentic global cuisine, a spirited atmosphere and creative craft cocktails (they make mean Margaritas), Earls is poised  to become a  dining and nightlife destination,

The diverse menu, overseen by Executive Chef Luke Verkuylen, offers a variety of global and seasonal dishes, with a focus on locally-sourced, made-from-scratch ingredients, starting with a robust selection of appetizers like Cobia Ceviche with avocado, radish, oven dried tomatoes, cucumber and pine nuts in a tangy citrus broth; Sticky BBQ Pork Buns with a zesty hoisin hot sauce and cilantro, topped with roasted peanuts; and Smoked Salmon Pressed Sushi with pickled ginger, dashi mayonnaise, tempura crunch and shredded nori, among others.

Salads, burgers and sandwiches and hearty main dishes follow:  the Bronx Burger on a house made brioche bun with red pepper relish, aged white cheddar cheese and beer battered onion rings; Chicken Brie + Fig on a fresh ciabatta roll with roasted red apples, spinach and garlic aioli; and Certified Angus steaks, grain fed and aged for 28 days, such as the Cajun Blacked Steak, a juicy 7 oz. top sirloin steak served with garlic mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables. Fresh sustainable fish almost make it on the menu including the North Pacific Sablefish served in a dashi broth with soba noodles, maple soy glaze, spinach and mushrooms.

Gluten-free and vegetarian options are available such as as the Thai Vegetable Bowl with toasted quinoa, ginger, crispy onions, peanuts and carrots in a coconut and lemongrass broth, and all desserts are prepared in-house: Earls’ classic Warm Chocolate Sticky Toffee Pudding topped with vanilla bean gelato and served in a candy snap basket; a decadent Key Lime Pie with graham crust, Chantilly cream and an almond crumble as well as fresh berry desserts and seasonal pies.

The unique bar program at Earls Dadeland, conceptualized by Beverage Director Cameron Bogue, features a variety of classic and creative cocktails made with 100% fresh squeezed in-house juices and handmade syrups such as the Earls Old Fashioned made with Maker’s Mark bourbon, Demerara sugar and root beer bitters; the shareable Mad Hatter for up to four guests, served in a tea kettle with Skyy vodka, Poire Williams pear brandy, black tea, kaffir lime and coconut water; Iceberg Slim with Bombay Sapphire gin, elderflower, sorbet, fresh lemon and Prosecco; and Earls Signature Caesar, a twist on the Bloody Mary, made with Skyy vodka, clamato juice and a blend of spices.  In addition, a number of popular local craft beers will be available on tap such as Wynwood Brewing Company; Funky Buddha; Cigar City and Due South. An extensive wine list will offer a comprehensive wine by-the-glass program featuring select wines on tap as well as reserve bottles for special occasions. Various drinks and bar bites are offered daily at special prices.

 Earls Kitchen + Bar is  located in the recently launched Terrace Dining at Dadeland Mall two-story wing at 7535 North Kendall Drive, and will be open for lunch and dinner daily beginning at 11:30 a.m. with weekend brunch to be launched at a later date. Ample parking and valet available. (305) 667-1786, . Facebook:





Prime Fish an indoor/outdoor restaurant, has opened where Nemo once stood.

This is restaurateur Myles Chefetz’s latest addition to the Prime Corner, one block away from  Prime 112, Prime Italian and  Big Pink. As its name indicates it is primarily a seafood restaurant-fish shack-meets-upscale dining.  

Under the direction of Corporate Chef Michael Sabin, Prime Fish offers a menu ranging from   oysters and lobster to fried clam strips and Holland Dover Sole “Meuniere” w/ French Beans, Toasted Almonds & Lemon Caper Butter  ($75) . The list continues with  a rich raw bar with Petrossian caviar; soups like New England chowder with smoked bacon ($17) and Maine lobster bisque ($26); salads: Beet Salad w/ Spinach, Creamy Goat Cheese, Crispy Shallots & Spiced Walnuts ($18); Maine Lobster Cobb Salad w/Roasted Corn, English Peas, Avocado, Boiled Egg, Smoked Bacon & Poppy Seed Vinaigrette ($27) and   French Beans, Asparagus, Tomatoes, Artichokes, Hard Boiled Egg, Candied Peanuts & Prime House Vinaigrette ($23) among other choices.  

There is a long list of mouthwatering fish and seafood dishes  as monkfish piccata w/ baby artichokes & house made angel hair  $32; Jumbo shrimp & cheddar grits w/ tasso ham & stewed tomatoes  $38; Fried “Shrimp & waffle” w/maple syrup & hot sauce  $45;  as well as steaks and a Pan Roasted Bell & Evans chicken w/ garlic mash, green beans & natural reduction  $33.  Click here to see the menu   

Prime Fish, 100 Collins Ave., Miami Beach,  305-532-4550   

Imperia, the two-story, 5,000-square-foot,  220-seat indoor/outdoor juice bar,  restaurant, health food shop and nightclub has opened in the former Mia location on the corner of Flagler and Biscayne.

The menu by Chef Jason Guevara, a Johnson & Wales Miami graduate who honed his skills at Pacific Time,  Prime 112 and The Forge, is a blend of Caribbean and contemporary American cuisines. The list offers a range of appetizers like Imperia 305 frita sliders ($9.50); Bloody Mary ceviche mixto of snapper, shrimp, calamari, tomato citrus juice, tomato, cilantro, red onion and celery ($12); shrimp empanadas ($7); Guava BBQ Spare Ribs (8.50).

There are Soups ($5.95) and salads ($9.95)  like Cranberry Spinach mixed greens, Quinoa Salad mixed greens, feta, red cabbage, tomato, avocado, snow peas or Island Paradisio Salad avocado, mango, pineapple, sunflower seed, red bell pepper, and cilantro on a bed of mixed greens; as well as sandwiches:  Jibarito sandwich, Hawaiian marinated top round steak, with lettuce, tomato, red onion, cilantro mayo, and fried green plantains ($9); burgers and steak or chicken pinchos ($16).

Then there’s Yellow Tail Snapper snapper filet, sautéed green plantains, spinach, and shrimp broth ($14.95) and Berry Organic Chicken 8oz organic chicken breast, asparagus, garlic mashed potato, and dehydrated cranberry marsala sauce ($12.50) and Latin Chicken Fricassee chicken, with potato and vegetable stew and brown rice ($8.50).  Let’s not forget the chef’s previous experience at Prime 112, so steaks ($32 to 26) sizzle with sides, and desserts.

The Imperia Healthy Garden offers  a range of fruit and vegetable juices ($5.95) wheatgrass shots and meal-replacement shakes ($8.95) as well as healthy wraps like Avocado with scallions, tossed with pesto and side of hummus ($10.95); and a tofu chop, organic brown rice, chopped grilled tofu, tossed with tomatoes, red cabbage, carrots, and cucumbers ($10.95).

Then, there's Imperia Lounge, the night club open from 10 or  11 p.m. with DJs spinning until 5am.

Imperia Restaurant & Lounge is open daily from 6 p.m. to 11 a.m., 20 Biscayne Blvd, Downtown Miami. 305-341-9090

Bern's Steak House, Tampa ranked 28 and  Joe's Stone Crab and Michael’s Genuine in Miami ranked 55 and 74, respectively, in The Daily Meal's list of 101 Best Restaurants in America, as follows:   Read more and watch a slideshow

74. Michael's Genuine, Miami

According to Michael Schwartz, winner of the 2010 James Beard Award for Best Southern Chef, the most important thing you can take away from dining at his 2008 New York Times top-10 establishment and 2013 Golden Spoons Florida Trend Award winner is: “Know Your Source.” Menus at Michael’s Genuine change daily, and it’s often been mere hours since the ingredients on your plate left the field or the water. The restaurant; for instance, procures its organic eggs from PNS Farms, home of supposedly the happiest chickens on earth. Heirloom tomatoes figure not only on the menu here but also as décor in the minimalist dining room. Such dishes as Spring Creek oysters with classic mignonette, duck confit with orange marmalade and frisée, and grilled Palmetto Creek pork chop with tomato chutney define the restaurant's motto of "Fresh, Simple, Pure."

55. Joe's Stone Crab, Miami

Sure, when you have been forever and have entertained stars of a high caliber such as Sinatra and Muhammad Ali, people are bound to treat you as a historical attraction. But behind this100-year-old establishment, the old-school seafood house still boasts a massive menu. Should you make the pilgrimage, your order should be simple: stone crab claws (jumbos if available, nothing smaller than large) when they're in season, hash browns, and Key lime pie. Can’t head down? Joe’s can now come to you.

28. Bern's Steak House, Tampa

Come to Bern's and bask in the glory of excess. With seven different cuts of premium aged steak available in over 50 sizes broiled over a variety of temperatures, you can be sure that there will be something for everyone in your party. Oh, and did we mention the 20 kinds of caviar on the menu, the two preparations of foie gras, the two kinds of steak tartare (one with truffles), oysters three ways, and the endless varieties of fish and shellfish? Don’t forget the 16 different cheeses; both domestic and imported, nearly 50 desserts (including gluten- and sugar-free varieties) — served upstairs in a special dessert room — and a list of about 7,000 wines (5,500 of them red).

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