Leave it to the Four Seasons to take Miami’s culinary scene by storm! Ever since the Brickell hotel giant decided to revamp its dining options and bring Chef Aaron Brooks up from down under, it seems that the talented Australian chef is winning awards everwhich way you look. He is also turning the attention of savvy foodies’ toward Edge, Steak & Bar, where he mans the kitchen. Few local chefs have been able to more astutely capture Miami’s food culture than chef Brooks, whose offerings showcase a love and understanding of many Latin American cuisines, as well as a respect for local products.
Being of Cuban descent and having eaten varieties of Latin American food throughout my entire life, there isn’t much that can surprise me within this genre of cuisine. My understanding of most Latin American food is greasy, usually fried, comfortable, and predictable. When I was asked to visit Bernie’s LA Café, my expectations were not very high. Boy, was I mistaken! Named after proprietor Bernie Matz, also known for Lincoln Road’s Café at Books & Books, Bernie’s LA Café has been considered the Best Organic Latin American Cuisine and the owner of the Best Cuban Sandwich by the Miami New Times. Bernie’s is the kind of restaurant that offers something for everyone with its array of vegan, vegetarian, and straight up meat-loving options.
One of the interesting things about the holidays is that the traditions surrounding them can be so enjoyable, and oftentimes so delicious, that even the most staunch atheist can feel hesitant to completely abandon them. Even those who still identify with a particular religion can often forgo the rituals, services, and prayers associated with certain holidays but will definitely embrace the gift exchanges, parties, and most definitely the food. I’m certain that not everyone has been making sacrifices for Lent. Many Catholics have probably forgotten that Palm Sunday was this past weekend, many more will be observing Holy Week as just another week, and there are probably quite a few who don’t plan on going to church this coming Sunday. Nevertheless, many self-identifying Christians will probably be making plans to enjoy an Easter meal this weekend. Along with the warmer weather our northern compatriots hope to experience, our recent “spring forward” to which many of us are still adjusting also marks an unofficial start to “the brunch season.” Sure, we enjoy leisurely al fresco brunches all the time in South Florida, but brunch never seems as mandatory as it does during one of the Spring’s most brunch-friendly holidays, Easter. In case you have yet to make plans for this weekend, here are a few of Joonbug’s suggestions for restaurants serving up Easter brunch in South Florida:
St. Patrick's Day is right around the corner, meaning it's time to stock up on plenty of green clothing, beers, and hopefully the luck will just follow. Since St. Paddy's is the ultimate drinking holiday, we've rounded up some of the best bar crawls happening in the city -- even the non-Irish may participate!
St. Paddy's Kick-Off Party: For just five bucks, you can attend the St. Patrick's Day Kick-Off Party, taking place at Midtown favorite, Public House. The party will take place on March 15th from 5pm until 4am. All sorts of debauchery will ensue.You can purchase your tickets here.
Outside of Mexico, there are probably fewer people in the world who are as in love with Mexican cuisine (or an interpretation of it) as Americans. One never quite realizes just how good we have it in the States when it comes to finding tasty Mexican or Tex-Mex food until one travels to Europe where the difference between a wrap and a burrito isn’t quite as understood as it is here. Our approach to Mexican cuisine has also changed considerably as our culture has begun to embrace bolder flavors, and today’s foodies demand authenticity. While we still love our cheesy, sour cream-laden, Tex-Mex #3 combo specials, a lot of restaurants - even those owned and operated by gringos - are incorporating more and more authentic Mexican flavors and techniques into their menus, and even more restaurants are elevating Mexican cuisine to a level of sophistication previously unseen. Dennis Max’s new Boca Raton restaurant, The Mexican Cocina & Tequila Bar, has managed to bring diners a unique combination of bold, authentic flavors paired with creative innovation and the familiar flavors that we, as Americans, know and love from Mexican cuisine. The result is a restaurant that offers a fun, uninhibited ambiance with great food that teases and plays with your palate in very exciting ways.
The Local House is a new restaurant located inside the Sense Hotel on Ocean Drive. Upon entering the restaurant, patrons are greeted with warm, welcoming colors and a modern décor, reminiscent of local Miami culture and design. When we visited, we opted for outside seating to enjoy the gorgeous South Beach weather and ambiance. This delightful restaurant was abuzz with lively patrons enjoying brunch with unlimited mimosas and culinary treats prepared by their exceptional chef, Guily Booth. The menu offers a variety of delicious, affordable tapas-style plates, making it very difficult to decide. We sampled a variety of small plates that included the Local Ceviche, Melon Citrus Salad, Bacon-wrapped Dates, Goat Cheese Croquettes, and Octopus Carpaccio. The Local Ceviche is made with grouper, red onion, cilantro, and choclo, a starchy variety of corn from South America. The grouper offered a meaty bite and was perfectly flavored with fresh ingredients, making it a great take on traditional ceviche. The Melon Citrus Salad offered more mellow flavors and was composed of assorted melon balls with feta, limejuice, and mint. The Bacon-wrapped dates were a sweet and salty treat, although a delectable spicy guava sauce and a topping ofpea shoots that accompanied the Goat Cheese Croquettes made a bold statement. These little bites of heaven proved to us that goat cheese and guava should always go together. The Octopus Carpaccio was topped with a creamy sauce, crunchy capers, diced tomatoes, a chorizo “dust”, arugula, and orange slices. The chorizo dust gave this dish a salty flavor without the overpowring heaviness that is usually associated with eating sliced chorizo. The orange slices brought a welcome bit of freshness.
This week is all about Art Basel, and Joonbug Miami is making sure that all you foodie “Baselers” are well fed and well hydrated. Between a long day of day of gazing at modern art and hitting up the countless parties and events that the evening has to offer, be sure to stop by Meat Market on Lincoln Road for some specially crafted Art Basel cocktails made with Dom Ruinart, the official champagne of Art Basel. Only short walk from the main exhibit at the Miami Beach Convention center, the ever-chic and bustling steakhouse is the perfect place to refresh yourself and possibly meet some the art world’s hottest names.
Lest we forget about art of the culinary kind during Art Basel week, Sushi Samba will be manning a popup version of their Lincoln Road hotspot in the heart of some of the most exciting satellite fairs. Occupying the former Sustain space in the shops of Midtown, SUSHISAMBA’s SAMBAPOP will be only steps away from such fairs as Art Asia, Art Miami, and Context, as well as a short distance from many others. From now until Sunday, December 9th, SAMBAPOP will be serving “Baselers” their unique blend of Japanese, Brazilian, and Peruvian flavors that have made the SUSHISAMBA brand a mainstay on South Beach. With the announcement of its new chef, Brian Nasajon, SAMBAPOP will be the perfect opportunity for both local and visiting art aficionados to sample the new chef’s creative offerings, as well as many favorites.
Three new restaurants are debuting in South Beach this December, and two of them not only carry pedigrees to get excited over but are also suggesting that perhaps Miami Beach is becoming America’s newest - and most stylish - Little Italy. SoBe has been attracting models, artists, and entrepreneurs from Italy ever since their paesano, Gianni Versace, put the southernmost part of Miami Beach on the map, and the resulting migration is making South Beach a veritable mecca for Italian-from-Italy cuisine representing everywhere from Sicily and Sardinia to Piedmont and Venezia. The other restaurant, while Italian by way of its designer from Bologna, is a departure from the pizzas and pastas of the other two and promises to offer a farm-to-table concept with an international flair. Just in time for Art Basel!