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Dennis Max, South Florida restaurateur since the mid-80’s, has made his debut in Coral Gables with Max’s Grille Coral Gables; a $2 million, 7,000-square foot restaurant with 185 seats indoor and 80 seats outdoors and a bar -- with wines by the glass and specialty cocktails--spilling out onto the sidewalk. Both cuisine and concept replicate those of the popular Max’s Grille in Boca Raton. The menu is overseen by John Belleme (Zemi, Maxaluna and max’s Grille) with executive chef Patrick Broadhead (Max’s Grille,Boca Raton) in charge of culinary operations. The restaurant, a meld of stylish bistro and neighborhood tavern offers starters ($8.50-$15) such as sesame seared rare yellowfin tuna, Max’s chicken wings and shrimp & chicken firecracker rolls with mango chili and spicy peanut sauce, cold water oysters and shrimp cocktail with chipotle cocktail sauce. Main courses ($15-$35) feature a wide range of choices from the wood-fired grill like the16 oz. Delmonico steak served with roesti potatoes, asparagus and horseradish cream as well as miso-glazed Chilean sea bass with wok seared vegetables; pomegranate lacquered duck served with Asian stir fry and pot stickers; and merlot braised prime chuck served with horseradish smash. Desserts ($6-$8) include mixed berry crème brulee pie, chocolate dipped macadamia nut cannolis with vanilla ice cream and strawberry mango compote. Max’s Grille, 2 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables, is open for lunch and dinner daily. 305-567-2600.


Once the site of the famed La Broche, then of the would-be Biscayne Bistro, and of “neo-Andean” cuisine palace by Argentine chef Francis Mallman, Mendoza Restaurant is now under the management of Biscayne Bistro owners Roberto and Cheska Cavalcanti. The managers are: Mauricio Lescano, Eric Queiroz and Joey Solorzano. The chef is Alex Rubio, formerly of Pulcinella Restaurant, 94th Aero Squadron and Mendoza Restaurant. The cuisine at Mendoza Restaurant is Mediterranean with Latin American accents. With appetizers such as gazpacho with crab meat and oven roasted crab cakes with mixed greens & pomegranate sauce; and entrees like salt crust fish with spinach and baby potatoes, rack of lamb with julienne of zucchini & mashed potatoes and seafood risotto with lobster. For lunch, salads, homemade pastas and sandwiches are available. Mendoza is open for lunch Monday through Friday 12-3pm, and dinner Monday through Saturday 6 to 11pm. 1155 Brickell Bay Drive - (12 St. on the Bay), Miami, (305) 377 4442.

Chef Gerdy Rodriguez who made his debut at Peppy’s in The Gables and went on to be a sous-chef at La Brioche and chef at Mundo, is now Chef de Cuisine at Café Sambal, the Mandarin Oriental Miami 160-seat indoor/outdoor waterfront restaurant. Chef Rodriguez’s new menu of contemporary Asian cuisine features appetizers such as sea bream salad with cucumber, radish and chili oil; tuna tataki with apple/mustard vinaigrette; asparagus tempura, mixed seafood tempura with tamarind/miso glaze and foie gras-duck pot stickers with garlic/ginger infused wine vinegar. Following are entrées of semi boneless cornish hen with fried rice, lop chong, langoustines, napa cabbage and crispy peas dusted in wasabi; citrus salmon and Peking Duck and foie gras 3 ways. Café Sambal, Mandarin Oriental, Miami, 500 Brickell Key Drive serves breakfast from 6:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m., lunch from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. and dinner from 5:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. daily. (305) 913-8251.

Christian Nazon and David Sultan are the new owners of Moroccan Nights. “We aim to satisfy our customers,” said co-owner David Sultan. With belly dancing and Middle Eastern music, nightly, a change of menu is sure to make this happen. On the menu, Homemade Merguez grilled Moroccan beef sausages ($8.95); Babaganoush baked eggplant with tahini sauce ($5.95); Kefta Kebab grilled minced beef kebab with traditional herbs and spices ($20.95) and a variety of different Couscous dishes including beef, lamb, chicken and merguez all served with cooked fresh vegetables ($20.95) vie for attention with a selection of different Tagine. The typical Moroccan stews range from Tagine with Prunes and Tagine with Fresh Vegetables,to Tagine with Olives and Tagine with Salmon ($15.95). Also on the menu: Middle Eastern dishes, fish and grilled meats. Moroccan Nights is open Tuesday through Thursday from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 6 p.m. to midnight. 9555 Harding Avenue in Surfside. For reservations: 305.865.5333

The newly opened East Room at The Forge in the space adjacent to the restaurant has recently been renovated into a contemporary and elegant private setting with blonde wood paneled rooms lit by opulent crystal and amber chandeliers for wedding receptions, corporate events, Bar Mitzvahs, Holiday parties, Showers, Sweet Sixteen parties, etc… French doors open onto the courtyard allowing for romantic cocktail receptions. 432 Forty First Street, Miami Beach. For me information: 305-538-8535

Named after the potent liqueur absinthe, popular among painters and poets like Edouard Manet; Charles Baudelaire; Paul Verlaine; Arthur Rimbaud; Oscar Wilde; Ernest Dowson and Edgar Degas in the mid-1800s, Absinthe, a chic 240-seat restaurant/ brasserie/lounge and bar, developed and designed by California-based The Puccini Group, opens its doors March 1, 2006 in the heart of Boca Raton. The manager is Anthony Hobbs formerly with Zemi, Maxaluna and Bistro Zenth; the chef de cuisine is Esteban Arguedas (27), formerly with the PGA National Resort & Spa in West Palm Beach. “We wanted to create a menu that honored the restaurant’s comfort-driven brasserie concept,” says Arguedas whose menu includes appetizers ($6-$15) ranging from a simple herb risotto with roasted tomatoes and aged Parmesan and steak tartare to warm duck confit layered with chili peanut sauce and hoisin-infused lemongrass. Also on the menu: salads ($6-$12) and entrees ($22-$32) with rotisserie fish, fowl and meat and dishes such as polenta-crusted diver scallops with heirloom tomato liquor; sautéed wild salmon with truffled potatoes; rosemary-crusted pork loin with baby vegetables, and ancho-rubbed Ahi tuna with chile-pureed potatoes and fresh pineapple salsa. Desserts ($7) feature an absinthe-infused crème brûlée, dark chocolate tart with menthe-espresso ice cream, white chocolate tart with pistachio ice cream and a French upside-down apple tart with Tahitian vanilla ice cream. Absinthe, located at Boca Center, 5150 Town Center Circle in Boca Raton, Florida, is slated to open March 1, 2006. Daily hours of operations: breakfast, 6:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.; lunch, 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.; dinner, 5:00 p.m. to midnight; bar with select bar menu; 11:30 a.m. to midnight. (561) 620-3754.

With equal parts L.A. glam and South Beach chic, the 255-seat indoor/outdoor Table 8 South Beach is slated to open in January/February 2006, beachside, at the new Regent Hotel at 1458 Ocean Drive with entrances from both Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue. Celebrity chef Govind Armstrong (34), who launched his career with Wolfgang Puck at L.A.’s legendary Spago, will serve sophisticated yet straightforward, simple food (like salt roasted porterhouse: a carnivore’s delight for two, which Robb Report cited for excellence in their 2004 “The Best of the Best” issue) created with the freshest, natural products and local ingredients. GM Nick Fielding, formerly of Spago in Beverly Hills and Turnberry Resort in Aventura, Florida is in charge of Table 8 and its main dining room (seating 160), private dining room (seating 40) and a 15- seat wine room, in addition to a 40-seat lounge, right under the Regent’s glass-bottom pool. Open since August 2003, Table 8 Los Angeles has remained one of the country’s hottest restaurants by virtue of its acclaimed cuisine and Armstrong’s unabashed charisma. Table 8 South Beach is owned and operated by Meridian Entertainment Group, in partnership with Levy Restaurants. Table 8 South Beach is located at the Regent Hotel, 1458 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, Florida. (305) 695-4114.

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