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Michael's Genuine - Miami Design District

Went there yesterday for lunch (around 1:30pm) and the place was FREAKIN PACKED. That's not surprising given the write-up in the NYT.

FYI: Had the pulled pork sandwich with french fries and the high-alcohol French beer, belzbeth (sp?). The pulled pork itself was really good -- coulda been spicier, but I'm from Georgia and thats how we serve em in the dirty, dirty -- but the bun was the real deal and made it worth the $11. We don't do artisan bread in the south. Yet. The french fries are also fresh, crisp, and good.

Sat at the back of the restaurant and watched the Kitchen guys go at it. Michael was in and out the whole time. I really recommend this experience for a casual lunch (you will get bumped by servers). The wood oven is really cool to watch (and smell) as things go in and out.

Michael actually seemed to be in GENUINEly good spirits. And who can blame him after the NYT praise? He was walking around talking to a few patrons, including Michy and David of Michy's fame, who were dining. I have been there about 5 or 6 times and never really seen him smile until this visit.

I'm really happy for the guy and happy that his place is doing good business. If anything, capitalists will pick up on this successful trend and open more restaurants in this vein around town. Not sure if this will curb the demand for Michael's specifically, but I do think there is short supply of these types of places in general.

Whereas the "local and organic" aspect of the place is marketed directly to us foodies (see Bruni's blog for the "dark side" of this concept, http://dinersjournal.blogs.nytimes.co... ), I think the real reason this place is doing well down here is because of the price points and "creative" comfort food.

In particular, the sizing portions (starters, small, medium, large, etc.) are awesome for patrons who like to pay for what we are going to eat at the restaurant. I can eat and drink a fabulous meal at Michael's for a lot less than what I might be able to do at sobe places like Prime 112, Nobu, or even at Michy's. Part of me thinks this is due to the lower rent of the Design District locale (but can it be THAT much cheaper rent over there?).

Also, Michael knows what people want in Miami. Although there are a few foodies down here, for the most part, Miami is not a place for adventurous eaters or pallets. And so Michael gives us the "comfort" that we want mixed with just the right level of risk (and subsequent reward). I mean, c'mon, the guy serves deviled eggs, pizza, and potato chips & dip. But he does it in a way that makes someone like Frank Bruni take note! Pretty cool, I think.

If this kind of place becomes "trendy" in Miami, I see no reason to feign scorn.

Please help us make a decision: Restaurants in Miami

Dear Chowhounders in the Miami area:

My gf is coming into town this week and we want to try two of the following restaurants:

AltaMar
Azul
Bond St. Lounge
Chef Allen's
Timo
Sardinia

So... if you had to pick two of those restaurants, which ones would you chose? Please consider price points, overlap in cuisine, and food quality. We are not the big on decor or ambiance. However, we consider ourselves to be very "adventurous" eaters (with a bias towards French cuisine). And - for the record - we are both from Miami so we have tried many other restaurants not on the above list.

For instance, here is a little bit about our tastes:
We are both allergic to shellfish (I know, it sucks)
Favorite restaurants in Miami: Pascal's on Ponce, Michael's, Cacao
Restaurant we think are overrated: Michy's, Prime 112

Thanks for helping us make this decision. We are both grad students -- so eating at places like this is a definite luxury for us and, obviously, we like to overanalyze these types of rare consumer experiences!

Mar 14, 2008
Lost Highway in Florida

Nexxt Cafe (on Miracle Mile)

damn... i wrote a snarky reply about Nexxt Cafe and how the size of a restaurant's menu is usually inversely proportional to the quality of its food.

But it was curiously removed!!!!

Nov 19, 2007
Lost Highway in Florida

Michy's

agree. the price/quality ratio is good for a "trendy" place in miami. and if you compare to a place like the setai or nobu, not even close.

DAMN! these pics are sweeeeeeeet!!!

any advice on taking pics of dishes at a nice restaurant?

Nov 04, 2007
Lost Highway in Florida

Michael's Genuine Food & Drink ranks with Esquire

oh, cmon frod. thats kinda selfish. and petty!

let the guy reap his rewards. good for him. kinda a ballsy place to put a restaurant in miami, especially attempting to do the whole "local" thing.

just call ahead a few hours if you want a resy. ;)

Oct 28, 2007
Lost Highway in Florida

Underrated in Miami

good call on royal thai... i ate there for lunch today. had the chicken curry (4-star spicy!!!)

Underrated in Miami

La Palme D'Or (in the Biltmore Hotel)

Why does nobody ever mention this place? It has one of the best chef/sommelier teams in ALL of south florida. I guess the atmosphere is a bit stuffy, but the food and the wine program are more than enough to make up for it. And anyway, its not like the place is a stick in the eye. Its just not nobu (whatever that means).

Am I the only one who really, really likes this restaurant? Of all the great restaurants in Miami, this is one of the top 3. But it never gets mentioned on this forum. Anybody got any thoughts on it?

ps: Madrono's is incredible. I didn't know it was highly rated, though. The place is clean, fresh, and cheap. If you go for lunch, you can get some incredible deals. Get the carne asada and then an app of fried cheese. The owner is always in there watching over the cash register. The weirdest part about that place is where its located. You would never guess such a nice place was in such a run down looking strip mall (unless you grew up in miami).

Duo Miami Closed - what's up with Brickell?

lax2mia asks "....... is [PF Changs and Oceanaire] where Brickell's tastes are?"

I'd rather not think about it like that (i.e., tastes). Instead, I see it more as a result of external factors contributing to overall restaurant sustainability.

Looking at restaurants from an organizational standpoint, both of those restaurants have corporate management and structure in place that can a) afford to run on a smaller profit margin, b) provide immediate help with staffing issues such as recruitment, high turnover and absenteeism (especially in important positions such as GM or Exec. Chef), and c) marketing.

In other words, smaller, chef-owned restaurants must achieve sustainability by running on HIGHER profit margins despite the fact that when they lose employees (especially managers and chefs) they do not have the human resources available to adequately recruit and select qualified applicants. Further, its highly unlikely that they can bring in a new manager with requisite experience. However, in the case of PF Changs, a manager of a store in Atlanta can come down tomorrow and fairly adequately adapt to the Miami's store situation. Thus, its not such a problem for corporate restaurants. Further, their ability to replace all positions almost immediately, advertise and recruit on a national level (e.g., asking an applicant in texas if they want to work in miami for a while?), as well as the incentive to write off individual store losses at the corporate tax-level give these types of restaurant a distinct advantage.

Albeit the "tastes" of the people of Brickell may play a part in the success and failure of corporate/chef-owned restuarants, I think that there are mitigating factors (that are especially contingent to miami) that will continue to result in the proliferation of corporate eateries.

Yes, I know that NYC and LA and Chicago have a thriving chef-owned restaurant scene. However, this is Miami....

Jul 03, 2007
Lost Highway in Florida

Best Mexican Restaurant in Miami

agree with netmover on this one... taqueria mexico is not REAL mexican food (or even that good!)

but i did have the Orale tacos this weekend.... the al pastor was pretty good, but the carne asada was not. this place is a bit expensive for what im used to paying for these types of tacos in other states (georgia, texas) but I guess you have to pay a premium for it in miami. i saw about 15 people come and go while i was there (and it was about to rain, too).

i think ill go back next weekend and try some other flavors. im not about to give up my quest to find some decent mexican food in miami.

on another note, does anyone have any theories on why there are no mexicans in miami? i have heard many reasons from "the cubans hate mexicans" to "they go other places" to "the nicaraguans are here" etc. anyway, seems to me like we should have more mexicans considering you dont need to know english to get along/ahead in miami. so.... whats the deal?

Miami Spice 2007

Not sure what has been everybody elses experience, but i've been pretty disappointed with miami spice over the past couple of years. While its a great chance to feel the "ambiance" of a restaurant, I don't really think the food they serve is representative of the establishment.

Its just that I think the $35 dinner menu forces good restaurants to serve entrees like "churrasco" or "salmon", etc. that don't require much thought/cost.

With that said, a couple restaurants did try impress. For instance, we had an incredible meal at Cacao. We went back a couple months later, and ordered the real deal, and it proved to be even better. In fact, I now put Cacao up there in the top 10 restaurants in Miami ;)

However, I kinda feel that was an exception and am wary of seeing the miami spice deal as a test run. But If they perform REALLY well with the limited options (and also try to give REALLY good service), then maybe they are worth spending $200 at later on.

Anybody else got any thoughts on miami spice and how to get the most utility out of the deals?

Jun 27, 2007
Lost Highway in Florida

Michael's Genuine - Miami Design District

Went to Michael's Genuine three times in the past weeks. Here are my thoughts:

1. Love the trend of places like this varying their portion sizes. When I go out to eat, I am one who loves lots of little plates (i.e., the chefs menu) rather than one app and one huge entree. Mikey gives you 5 sizes: a) snacks, b) small apps, c) large apps, d) entrees, e) super large entrees -- for sharing.
This works out perfect for me; not so great for our waiters who have to serve me multiple courses at $5-10 a course while I hog their table (more on that later!)

2. As far as food, the place reminds me of Michy's in that it can be slightly hit and miss (although it has more "hits" than Michy's). In other words, if you order the right things, you can have an incredible meal. If you order the wrong things, you may walk away scratching your head at the praise this place has garnered.

3. The snacks are a great part of the menu to splurge on. The potato chips and onion dip is my fav so far. Not far behind are the deviled eggs. Go with the olives (if thats yer thing). I was not won over by the chx liver crostini's. Thats usually my thing, but I just think there are better options. Have not tried the crispy hominy-- but each time the waiter reccomends.

They ran out of ceviche and pulled it from the menu. Go with that if its back on when you dine. Also, the wild sockeye salmon tartare is incredible. Its like butter, only better. Oysters are also money.

I was told to go with the prawn, but it ended up being a bad dish. Perhaps overcooked (Michael was not working the brick-oven at the time of night when I ordered it) and the meat was difficult to get out with a fork. Order with caution.

I also was perplexed by the roasted onion with lamb. The lamb inside was rather dry and the dish could be improved if it had the right "stuffing" cause that roasted onion is sublime.

A major rec are the pizzas. Definitely for lunch (but they are big), but it also makes a great sharing app for the table. At night they have the roasted pork pizza (trust me on this one -- its great!) and during they day they have about 4 to chose from. These might be the house specialty. On top of the taste, the price point on these items can win over all but the most frugal diners.

As you can see, I havent really had any entrees. As I told you before, I'm not really a "portion size" guy, so I generally order apps at places like this. Sorry I can't help out with the entrees....

4. As for the service.... on the whole, its above average for the Miami area. In other words, the servers look generally happy to be working there and they try to fill your dining requests with the goal of seeing you return as a customer. (Again, this the advantage in Miami of dining on the "mainland" in areas where tourists are less frequent.) On the other hand, all three times I dined the servers were really, really, really trying to push food on me throughout my dinner/lunch.
Now I have served for many years, and I understand that its important for both the resaurant and the server to push up average ticket prices, but I just cant get with the pushiness that I received. If Michael is going to put snacks and small apps on the menu, the servers need to be down with this and understand that people are going to come in and just "snack" and "appetize". Hey, I am going to order the food I want, ok!? Just to give you a sense of what I'm talking about, my waiter one night kept asking if we wanted a dozen oysters (wtf!?). I told him I wanted the prawn (on his rec) and he said, "OK, so a prawn and a half dozen oysters for the table???" I was like, "No, just the prawn." LOL. Anyway, he was just too pushy wanting us to order more drinks and food. And I experienced this (albeit in smaller doses) the other two times I dined there.
Other than that, tho, the service was above par.

5. Desserts are rather good. I loved the upside down banana cake. We also had the chocolate *&^(*&% with olive oil and sea salt. Although it sounds bad, it is good! Both are must order items. Avoid the strawberry shortcake. Also, the smores might be overrated.

6. If you go for lunch, dine at the "chefs bar" in the back. You can watch the kitchen work as well as Michael manning the brick oven. (On an inside note, Michael sure has the "stoic chef" mode down. He never seems to be happy, unless of course, you talk to him about his food. His stoic personality immediately brightens and he is like a kid talking about Disney World. Pretty funny to see that change in disposition, actually).
The back bar is a little too crowded (via employees coming and going) to enjoy a fine meal, but its perfect for a snack at night or anything at lunch.

7. Price points!!! As has been said before, this place is so nice because it is always a dining option no matter the occasion. If you want to "fine dine" and impress someone, you can do it. If you want to swing by before a movie/performance for a quick bite, you can get in and out without spending too much money. If you want to see some hipsters and scenesters (a rarity in Miami!!!), then just plunk down at the bar. You can spend as much or as little money as you want. This can't be said about many of the better restaurants in Miami.
===============

To sum it up: LETS HOPE THIS PLACE MAKES IT!!

Even with a few blemishes, this place shines. We need more places like this in Miami.

Pascals on Ponce (that Maitre d')

I have always though that Pascal's on Ponce is one of the best places to eat in Miami. The food is always always superb and Pascal is a top chef in this region. (The service can be a little hit or miss, tho)

However, the Maitre d' at his place is the topic of this thread. Has anyone ever noticed this french guy? I really like the guy because he is an original, but damn, the dude is both creepy and snobby. Especially if you bring in a bottle of your own wine on Monday nights (there is no corkage fee on Monday nights). He came over to my table once after I brought in a bottle and passively-aggressively told me how much my bottle sucked! But those neon pink and orange reading glasses that he has.... thos things are tight!!

One other story about him... the guy will hover over customers' tables and talk to them FOR EVER. I have actually seen chef Pascal get pissed about him doing this. (My server told me once that Pascal sometimes takes his cell phone and calls the restaurant so the Maitre D will have to leave the people's table to answer the phone. When the Maitre D answers the phone, Pascal tells him to leave the customers alone. LOL!!)

A final story about the Maitre D. I had my girlfriend call on monday night a few months back (no corkage fee, remember). She asked if there was a corkage fee (just to be polite). He said, "there is no corkage fee tonight.... but... there is no space". My girlfriend called back, bummed out. I told her I knew he was full of it and there would be plenty of open tables on a MONDAY NIGHT IN THE GABLES!! Sure enough, we showed up around 8pm and there were only 3 other tables in the place. Too funny... I wonder if Chef Pascal knows that this guy is turning away people like that? Either way, the quirky guy is a weird original.

Does anybody know his name?

May 06, 2007
Lost Highway in Florida

Nobu Report

yeah, i was expecting more from a $150 meal.

I been thinking about going back, but I think I will have to pass now. Lets hope this post stays up!

TOP FRENCH FOOD IN FLA

Don't forget about Palm D'or at the Biltmore Hotel. The food and wine are fran-tastic.

But, yes, Pascal's on Ponce is also worthy of nomination for the Miami area. The food is always always superb, however, the service can be a little hit or miss. Also, the Maitre d' at that place can be both creepy and snobby. Especially if you bring in a bottle of your own wine on Monday nights (there is no corkage fee on Monday nights). The dude will also hover over customers' tables and talk to them. I have actually seen chef Pascal get pissed about him doing this. (My server told me once that Pascal sometimes takes his cell phone and calls the restaurant so the Maitre D will have to leave the people's table to answer the phone. When the Maitre D answers the phone, Pascal tells him to leave the customers alone. LOL!!)

Frodnesor,

Have you been to the Palm D'or recently? I'm curious about your take on it. Great service, great food, great sommelier on my end.

Apr 14, 2007
Lost Highway in Florida

Need recommendations in Argentina

second the Bengal suggestion... really good indian-italian food.

Michy’s – Review for 2/22/07 (Miami)

---"other than the 1/2 order / full order option, it's actually not nearly as original as it seems to get credit for."

I can easily agree with you (and mikesteady) here. However, my review should be viewed entirely in the context of Miami restaurants. And I don't think she really gets too much nation-wide credit for being "original". I think she gets credit for having a pretty good restaurant in Miami, thats all.

Mikesteady, I'm not sure where you are from, but I am willing to bet that you have never lived in Miami. I say this because the restaurant scene down here - for the most part - is not very good. Skyscraper-for-skycraper, Miami has to be one of the least interesting restaurant cities in the U.S.

So, like Frodnesor, Michy's is in my "Miami Top 5"; a major distinction between Top 5 of all time! Like I said, the mere fact that she can get fresh, organic ingredients is a feat within itself!

Either way, I am going to revisit this restaurant next month and order a few different dishes. After all, you can't really get a feel for a place unless you've been there a few times.

Any suggestions for other dishes to try???

Feb 26, 2007
Lost Highway in Florida

Bariloche Argentina Restaurants/Buenos Aires Restaurant Recommendation

I had one of the worst meals of my life at Francis Malmann's. My suggestion is to go the restaurant in the Hyatt (located in the center of the city). I think the name of it is Bistro M. MMMMMMuch better than Mallmann's.

Bariloche famous for Chocolate? true or false?

true

Need recommendations in Argentina

1) Nectarine
2) La Bourgogne

Michy’s – Review for 2/22/07 (Miami)

(Before I start this review, I should let everyone know that this week is the SoBe Wine & Food Festival. Therefore, there were a lot of famous chefs, foodies, restaurateurs, etc. dining out this week and I’m pretty sure Michelle Bernstein was on her game because of it.)

Michy’s is located in an odd part of Miami. Not sure if I would call it the “Upper East Side” or what, but I used to live around this area and it isn’t the safest place to be at night. With that said, it does look like they are cleaning up this stretch of Biscayne Blvd. and the area was not quite as seedy as I remember it a few years ago, especially the little patch of boutique shops and restaurants in which Michy’s is located. Either way, a tourist is not exactly going to stumble on this place at 6927 Biscayne Blvd. They must be aiming for the neighborhood crowd.

We arrived at 7:30pm, about 30 minutes early for our 8pm reservation. The host had no problem seating us as the place was only about 1/5 full; it was crazy full about 90 minutes later. It’s a pretty small place, about the size of your typical Starbucks (around 50 seats). Nicely decorated with white tablecloths (white paper is placed on top, though), white chairs with padded pink flowery designs, blue walls, a long orangey-fabric booth against the wall, and pink and orange wallpaper trim around the top of the walls. However, the most tasteful aspect of the décor were the chandeliers (made from thin plastic chips/shells) that hung poignantly around the room; elegant but chic, indeed!

The service was great (which means way, way, way above average for Miami standards) on the Thursday night we went. We had two servers, two server assistants and multiple food runners brought us our victuals. The sommelier is young and appears to be related to Michelle in some way. I think she knows her stuff but I did not test her. David (Michelle’s husband – he manages the front of the house) showed up around 9pm when the place was getting packed. All in all, the wait staff was probably on their best behavior and couldn’t’ have been better. We were never rushed (we stayed about 2.5 hours), always silvered, and served appropriately.

The wine menu might be one of the cutest designs that I’ve seen in some time. There are about 20 wines by the glass ordered from lightest to darkest (I spotted a few mistakes, but that’s besides the point). The real fun is the full bottles and 1/2 bottles section. Approximately 100 bottles are categorized by old/new world regions and explained to the consumer in an out of the ordinary way. My particular favorite was the 1/2 bottles section… it was really a great selection. Although the bottles aren’t overly expensive (a decent selection of below-$50 bottles), they still need a wine cellar. The wines are a tab bit too hot when they are served.

Now for the food. Let me go ahead and divulge my bias: I need fine cooking ingredients. With that said, one might can understand why I am so often disappointed with the food in Miami. For some reason its just really hard for chefs to get good ingredients down here (except for, maybe, tomatoes). It’s a problem David Bouley talked about – and even though he was disparaged for saying this – I’m pretty sure he is right on. This aint California or New York, people? I mean, where and when was the last farmers market you went to in Miami? Coral Gables?

Well, Michelle somehow doesn’t have this “ingredients” problem. My rule of them for ordering at this restaurant: the more ingredients in the dish, the better. Perhaps Michelle doesn’t have the “ingredients” problem because she is an insider to the scene down here; she knows how things work (from her time at Azul). People aren’t always on the up and up down here in Miami, and it takes a few greased palms and alligator-armed handshake negotiations to sometimes get what you want. Whatever she has done, she has the best, most fresh organic ingredients in town. This alone is a worthy reason to visit.

First, a note on the menu. Everything that I am about to describe can be ordered as a “half” order or a “full” order. These half and full orders describe portion sizes (as well as price). For instance we started out with the gazpacho. The half order was $7 (approximately 6 oz.) and the full order was $12 (for 12 oz.) Every item is listed and can be ordered this way. I really liked this option as it makes ordering much easier and you can much more simply create your own tasting menu (which is what I did). As for the gazpacho? Incredible! So light and fluffy, with just the right amount of crunchiness from bite sized onion frites. This is a signature dish and you must get it if you go.

Next came a special of the night, Duck Consommé. This one was a bit devoid of taste (but hey, it is consommé), but the spinach and shallots in the bowl were mighty tasty and tried to make up for everything else. At the same time, we tried the jamon croquettes with fig jam. Wow! Can you say gourmet mozzarella sticks? Even if you aren’t Latin, I’m pretty sure the croquettes are a must order item. The croquettes were served with microgreens (so fresh!) with a balsamic and olive oil dressing. Only about a bite size, but still it was pure pleasure. Next on the agenda were the seafood spaghettini and crispy sweetbreads with veal ravioli. Both of these dishes were fantastic. Just to warn you, the half order of spaghettini was actually pretty large. If you are one of those “I have to get full when I order a single entrée” people, then just order a full order of spaghettini and don’t complain. (I never understood why portion size is so important? Just spend more money and eat more things, right!?). The speghettini was perfectly cooked and light enough to be eaten in its entirety. The sweetbreads were tasty, but a bit too heavily fried for me; a lighter batter would have complimented their taste even more. The veal ravioli was a nice accompaniment to the sweetbreads. Topped with veal jus, the pasta was perfectly al denti but nothing out of this world. We had all this with a half bottle of Elk Cove Pinot Noir (2003) and it worked perfectly.

However, the best entrée by far was the “falling of the bone” beef short ribs with mashed potatoes. If you go, you must get this plate. The half order is great if you have eaten many courses and want to indulge in something fairly heavy. I did not need a fork to eat this dish. When she says they are tender, she means it. Served in a small bowl, the sauce does not overshadow the meat; the tenderness is the main star here.

Dessert was also a highlight. We had the Baked Alaska and I can honestly tell you that it was one of the best desserts I have ever had. Just an incredible mix of tastes, from hot-cold to sweet-salty, this was the best item on the menu. We sat at the bar after the meal (to watch for celebrities) and saw the servers making a few other desserts being served. The chocolate cake and tart looked really good. I walked away thinking the desserts were above average at this place, even though I only had one.

In the end, the meal at Michy’s was a fabulous dining experience. I will go again sometime soon, but as of right now, it jumped into the top-tier category of fine-dining restaurants that previously consisted of just Cacao, Palm d’Or , and Pascal’s on Ponce. The concept of this place, combined with the laid-back style and décor, makes it a perfect fine-dining experience for locals. Even though it’s a bit out of the way, it’s definitely worth the trip. I can guarantee you that your meal will cost you much less than David Bouley Evolution, Table 8, or Prime 112, and you will walk away feeling much more satisfied. But then again, maybe I just went on a good night…

Top Dishes (in order): Baked Alaska, Short Ribs, Gazpacho

Feb 24, 2007
Lost Highway in Florida