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sprmario's Profile

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Novecento Coral Gables

I've been here 3 times now since it opened. Twice for lunch and once for happy hour on Friday.

The previous Friday we had a business lunch w/ 6 people. The calamari we started with was bland. there was very little seasoning in the breading. I would not order it again. I ordered the Churrasco which was good. Well prepared at the medium rare i ordered it. The chimichurri was less than spectacular. It was very bland and added very little flavor. We had the dessert sampler and it was pretty decent though not cheap.

This past Friday a bunch of us from work went for happy hour. We had a nice time. They had about 40% off prices from 4 to 7pm. The drink prices are not cheap. about 10 to 12 for mixed drinks and 5 to 6 for beers. Those are the regular prices before the discounts. We stayed from 5:30pm to 11:30pm and had a good time. They had outdoor seating and the weather cooperated. We ordered some apps including the Picada Criolla which was pretty good. The empanada's were excellent, better than Graziano's, and the meats were cooked very nicely. A thumbs up on that dish. We also had the Lomito sandwich before leaving at about 10:30pm. It was delicious. It was a steak sandwhich with ham, bacon, cheese, lettuce and tomato. It was just the right thing to eat after a long evening of drinking...mmmmm.

I'm just glad to have somethign new within a 3 block radius of my office. :)

Apr 07, 2008
sprmario in Florida

Bonefish Grill Coral Gables (a/k/a Fish-Farm Grill)

I work in this building. The space has been empty the entire three years i have worked here. According to my boss, who has been here for about 11 years now, the space has had a long string of colossal failures.

I'm not a huge fan of chains but the food here is pretty decent. The appetizers are almost all very tasty. The Bang Bang Shrimp and Calamari are both good, as are the crab cakes, and the corn & crab chowder. The fish are also usually prepared pretty well. The variety isn't all that great, but at least it is reasonable.

It is a pretty nice place to go for drinks after work and to share a few appetizers.

Fine dining it is not, but the prices are reasonable for the quality.

Apr 07, 2008
sprmario in Chains

Coral Gables

according to this:

http://www.dailycandy.com/miami/artic...

it is open.

Feb 27, 2008
sprmario in Florida

Sobe Festival Publix Tasting - what did you think??

the food was way better this year. I actually was stuffed after making my way through just the 2nd tent. I thought the lines were worse last year for food items in general because there was less food available. My wife and i both had a great time, but i don't think we will go back next year unless we can score free tickets. I think that close to $450 for 2 tickets (including the $30 we paid for parking) is just a little excessive for what you get.

Feb 25, 2008
sprmario in Florida

Por Fin restaurant

opentable has them accepting reservations for march 10 and after for what that is worth.

Feb 25, 2008
sprmario in Miami - Fort Lauderdale

looking to buy some le creuset - what sizes will i use the most? [Moved from Home Cooking board]

i roast them w/ the lid off. My oven is fairly old and has a lot of hot spots. The cast iron evens out the heat that actually reaches the chicken or pot roast.

There's an episode of Good Eats where Alton does a standing rib roast in a large ceramic pot within the oven. Similar idea.

I always roast in a humid environment regardless. When i make my Thanksgiving turkeys i start the turkey with a good amount of vegetables and chicken broth in the roaster.

Jan 25, 2008
sprmario in Cookware

looking to buy some le creuset - what sizes will i use the most? [Moved from Home Cooking board]

interesting... i prefer my 6.75 qt oval because it is a better shape for most of the things i use it for (which are usually oven roasted items)... whole chickens, pot roasts, lamb shanks, etc. Cast iron distributes the heat enough that i don't care about the shape when i'm starting many of these items on the stove top. i don't really notice any cold spots.

Jan 24, 2008
sprmario in Cookware

looking to buy some le creuset - what sizes will i use the most? [Moved from Home Cooking board]

I have a 6.75 qt oval that i bought at Marshalls for $130... whichi s a really nice discount. I also bought the 2.75 qt oval that is their promotional piece on amazon yesterday when they had it as a gold box special. The regular price is $79.99 which is a great price plus no shipping or tax from amazon, and the special gave it another $20 off. I'm looking now for a 5.5 qt round and i expect that will be it for some time for dutch ovens.

Jan 22, 2008
sprmario in Cookware

Taillevent ?s

See my post below w/ my lunch review:

http://www.chowhound.com/topics/463745

It is from the viewpoint of a fairly amateurish first "haute cuisine" experience.

I left 20 euros of extra tip cash (not on the card).

my wife and i had 2 glasses each (champagne and then wine). If i recall correctly the wine was 18 euros a glass.

Dec 07, 2007
sprmario in France

Miami Argentine

Graziano's at SW 40th St and 92nd Ave. (the "real deal" above i assume) is the best imo. The food is all excellent.

My wife and I love it so much we had our wedding reception at the Coral Gables location last month and they did a really great job. Many people told us that the food was the best of any wedding that they had ever been to.

Dec 07, 2007
sprmario in Florida

Anything new or coming to Dade?

it just openned the week of Thanksgiving. It is not open for lunch. It opens up at 5pm. I'm hoping for a nice happy hour spot where you can stay for dinner. This past friday we went and had some drinks and then ate food at the high top tables near the bar.

This restaurant is in the building i work at. The space has been empty since i started in March '05. According to my boss who is a big foodie there have been about 4 or 5 restaurants there in the past 8 years and all have failed miserably.

I like Bonefish reasonably well for a middle tier chain. The fish is pretty decent and almost all of their appetizers are very tasty.

Dec 03, 2007
sprmario in Miami - Fort Lauderdale

Valentine's Day Suggestions

I like to plan ahead and about 2 months out is when i usually reserve for valentines... so we are coming up to that mark.

Any suggestions?

Last year we went to the Blue Door. I didn't like it at all... so so so cramped and the food came out so so so slowly. I know Valentines is tough because restaurants cram in a lot of tables in general. Any had a great Valentines meal somewhere?

I was considering Romeo's Cafe. It is one of those places i've just never gone to and it is small so i'm hoping to avoid the above problem.

Nov 29, 2007
sprmario in Florida

Paris Trip Reviews

Yes, same place. But anyway... their fries were the best of the ones we had.

Nov 29, 2007
sprmario in France

Paris Trip Reviews

The best fries were at L'Entrecote in the St. Germain area... 1 block west of the Place St. Germain. We ended up in that area 3 times because right on the Blvd there it was easy to catch a cab (not a small feat during the transportation strike). All they serve there is Steak Frites so when you walk in they just ask you how you want it. I requested a point... but they were both definately medium w/ just some nice pink in the center (no red). I expected them very medium rare to rare, but they were still tasty.

I th ink the best steak by american standards was at a place called Cafe Lateral which is just off the circle around the Arc. It was near our hotel and we ate 3 meals there. It felt very American. The portions were generally quite large and there were some American items on the menu. There was also a good assortment of typical Paris food. The cut was a ribeye there if i recall correctly and it was served w/ a side of sea salt to season but no sauce. The steak frite at L'Entrecote had a very good herb butter sauce.

Nov 29, 2007
sprmario in France

Paris Trip Reviews

Your welcome... i'll post some other food places we tried while there as soon as I get a chance. given the $1,100 or spent on these two meals we tried to save money on other food while on the trip.

We did eat a lot of pastries... Pierre Herme, Laduree, and La Maison du Chocolat along w/ a lot of miscellanous small pastry shops. My wife had Steak Frites at about 4 different places.

I found it interesting that everywhere we ordered beef, the waiters (who obviously picked up we were American) asked us right off if we wanted it cooked well done. Me an my wife both like our steaks medium rare and we ordered them that way. They were more often than not overcooked coming to the table more or less medium once coming rare (which is more like what i expected since i had heard pariseans like their beef rarer than typical).

Nov 28, 2007
sprmario in France

"I can't believe I haven't been to..." (SoBe/Miami)

I've never been to Romeo's. It is next on my to do list.

Nov 28, 2007
sprmario in Florida

"I can't believe I haven't been to..." (SoBe/Miami)

The doral location is still open. I live 2 blocks away.

Nov 28, 2007
sprmario in Florida

Zagat South Florida's New Rankings are up

i missed these while away on my honeymoon.

Nov 27, 2007
sprmario in Florida

Paris Trip Reviews

ok next up was

Pierre Gagnaire, lunch, Thursday the 15th of November

again we had a 12:30 reservation and were greated by a number of individuals to take our coats and to seat us. The maitre d' was a short adorable man w/ a mustache curled up at the ends.

We were again it seems the first in the restaurant. He quipped that we had a private dining hall for the meal. I counted 12 tables total (of which 5 never filled). 5 tables of 2, 1 table of 3 and one table of 5. Right off the bat you can see a huge difference in the restaurant. The plates, glasses, and flatware were all very modern as was the decor, vs. the very traditional and elegant Taillevent. It was really something to see the small army moving around in what was perfect precision at every instance. The food reflected the decor as well.

We were handed the menus. The one with prices to me and without to my wife. The degustation menu was 245 euros and the lunch menu (almost an aside) was 95 euros. The entrees ranged from about 100 to 125 euros and the main plates a little more. We were going to stick w/ the lunch menu on this occassion, but i wanted a little extra so I ordered an entree of the Langoustines to share. This seemed to throw the waiter for a bit of a loop but he quickly recovered it was not a problem (i hope it wasn't too much of a faux pas for me to add an item off the la carte menu to the fixed lunch menu). The langoustines were 122 euros.

We started w/ champagne for the apperitif. We were then brought about 4 small tiny pre-amouses. A plate w/ 4 candied hazelnuts and 4 tiny shortbread type crackers. A small little pedestal w/ a tiny cracker w/ avocado and a roe of some sort. Another small plate w/ octopus and pine nuts in a little shell, etc. The breads were also beautiful and distict vs. the very basic french crusty bread at Taillevent.

Next came the amuses... 5 in all placed in front of you together w/ direction to eat in a particular order... clockwise starting w/ the salade de champignons de paris...

I'll copy directly from the menu because a few items escaped me:
Salade de champignons de paris; jus a la grecque, lichettes de dorade sauvage.
Mais frais au Laguiole, wurtz a la gentaine; une gougere.
Oefs de saumon organique, gras de seiche; poivrons verts et moules de bouchot.
Terrine de queue de boeuf aux escargots, chutney d'automne.
Mousseline de vitelote, choucroute de Monsieur Herrcher.

It seemed like each plate played on a particular taste... sweet, sour, bitter, salty. The presentation was gorgeous. i have a picture of us seated at the table w/ the Amouses laid out before us. I'll post it so that you can see.

Next came (again from the menu)... Beurre mousseux aux jambon cru, olives vertes de Lucques, soja frais, blac de poireaux equartiers de legumes racine. Everything on this plate was swimming in butter. It was pretty delicious I must say. Great combo of tastes in this dish.

Next up was the entree of Langoustines. There were 6 preparations of them. Grilled, pan fried, a mousse, a consomme, a tartare, and a langoustine encased in what seemed like a potato chip. Each was about 2 bites worth which was perfect to share. I'm not sure how they would serve two people entrees at the same time. There were about 8 plates in front of us, several that required some table side finishes.

Next came the main plate:
Saupiquet minute de lapin Rex du Poitou.
Socca, gousses d'ail sablee, Ajo Blanco preque sevillan.

This was the worst dish of the lunch. It was good... it just seemed somewhat out of place and plain compared to everything else. The rabbit was great as was the little Ajo Blanco garlic/milk infusion drink that came with it.

Finally the desserts... there were 5 main desserts which were introduced w/ a plate of 5 petit fours. There was one petit four which was amazing. It was a small little cookie type shell filled w/ a reddish dust. Upon sticking it in your mouth it literally exploded w/ flavor. Like a super fine dusting of pop rocks is the best way for me to describe it. The desserts overall were very good and interesting. A carrot themed dessert w/ a vanilla carrot ice cream; a tiramisu dessert w/ coffee flavored ice cream; a mojito dessert drink w/ lime sorbet and a gelee of some sort that had cucumbers in it (interesting) topped with a lime foam; an odd dessert salad w/a sorbet; and a plate of candied citrus.

The meal was finished off w/ two fine chocolates... one dark, and one milk filled w/ an excellent ganache.

Total price: 378 euros. for the 2 lunches, the langoustine entree 2 glasses of champagne and 2 glasses of wine. Again i left a 20 euro extra tip.

Everything about this restaurant was very modern; the decoration, the flatware, the presentations, and the food. He definately takes chances... some of the plates just didn't quite work for me. One of the amousses was extremely bitter. The dessert salad and the carrot themed dessert where quite odd as well.

All in all both were great but very different eating experiences.

Nov 27, 2007
sprmario in France

Paris Trip Reviews

Again, i'd like to thank everyone who helped w/ my selections. Also a general thanks to everyone who adds to this board. I took a lot of info w/ me on my trip that I felt was invaluable while there.

Taillevent, lunch, Tuesday, November 13th.

First, i'd like to make it clear that this was my new wife and my first 2/3 star meal. So i'm going to go into some detail of what my experience was as a complete newbie.

From the moment we walked in, we felt somewhat nervous and overwhelmed by the attention. Our reservation was for 12:30pm and we arrived a few minutes early. We were greeted by 4 people. One woman who took our coats, another asked for our names for the reservation and then we were led to our seats. We had a nice table for 2 near the window in the first room. We were at this point, the only diners in the room (probably the restaurant), though i couldn't see all the tables in the 2nd room. We were asked if we wanted an aperitif and were presented w/ a small plate of delightfully light puffs of cheese bread. Mr. Vrinat then came and presented us w/ the a la carte menu and our waiter came and brought us the 3 set menus available. One was the 70 euro lunch menu, one was a 6 course degustation menu (140 euros) and an even more impressive 190 euro menu. We selected the degustation menu (we went well over my original budget when I was asking for suggestions on this board).

It is going to be quite difficult for me to describe all the food, so i'll stick to my experience more than anything. The food was all excellent. I am in agreement with what i have read that nothing that i ate was particularly special. The amuse was a light cream of mushroom w/ an artichoke flavored creme fresh to top. The first course was a crab salad topped w/ thinly sliced radishes. I tasted dill, chives, and some pepper powder sprinkled over the sides to add some heat. The next course was a wheat prepared rissotto style w/ frog legs. The third course were seared scallops over some sort of puree which i missed and a parsley/oil emulsion. Next came the main plate which was duck and a mix of fruits and vegetables (fig, dates, squash). the duck was topped w/ a really well done jus. The 5th course was a fresh goat cheese w/ herbs topped with an extremely thin cracker and dried olive tapenade and a small mesclun salad. There were 2 desserts. A chocolate mille feuille pastry with layers of mouses and ganache. There was also a fig dessert w/ caramelized fresh figs in a sabayon, and topped w/ a thin cookie and a fig foam. There also came a plate of 5 petit fours.

Everything was quite meticulously prepared and great tasting. Nothing, was new or out of the ordinary. New ground was definately not being broken, but it was truly a wonderful dining experience.

The service was impeccable. At one point when we finished our champagne, it took about 10minutes to be offered some wine. When the sommelier came over after ordering our meal, he asked if we wanted wine and i told him we would order by the glass after the aperitif. This stood out to me because it was the only time in the meal we felt we were somehow missing something, or that every tiny detail wasn't being taken care of.

The total bill came in at 353 euros. 2 degustation menus, 2 glasses of champagne, 2 glasses of wine, and a liter of water. I left a 20 euro tip on top of that. We left at about 2:45pm for about a 2.5 hour dining experience.

Lunch at Pierre Gagnaire to come later in the day.

Nov 26, 2007
sprmario in France

Help... i'm somewhat overwhelmed (Paris in 18 days)

I got back from my trip tuesday night. Thank you everyone for your help. I plan to write up reports of my meals at Taillevent and Pierre Gagnaire as soon as i can (i'm cooking Thanksgiving dinner today and my desktop computer is kaput). We had a really great time and had some great food.

Nov 22, 2007
sprmario in France

Pork Belly in SFLA

you need to find a good butcher. I'm not sure where to find it though. This is probably a good idea for another thread... good butchers in Miami. I usually go to Argentine markets like Grazziano's and La Estancia if i want good beef. They usually have very decent prices and great quality beef there. The Whole Foods in S. Miami has a very good meat section as well. They have aged beef and they have a lot of different cuts of lamb, pork, and veal. I haven't seen pork belly though.

Nov 07, 2007
sprmario in Florida

Pork Belly in SFLA

The pork belly dish at Michael's was the best dish i tasted there last month. The kimchee is not your typical kimchee taste (which was great, because I am not a huge fan). It was a little spicy though... so keep that in mind.

Nov 06, 2007
sprmario in Florida

Christabelle's Quarter (cgrove)

Anyone been since the chef change?

Nov 06, 2007
sprmario in Florida

Joe's Stone Crab

I like the manhattan clam chowder a lot from Joe's... my fiance and i like to get a chowder, an order of selects, a side of some sort and the lobster appetizer which has half a lobster and a big mound of lump crab meat on top.

We generally eat sitting at the take out... make a nice $70 meal.

Nov 05, 2007
sprmario in Florida

Paris (from S. Fla, point of view) [moved from Florida board]

hmm, i obviously posted on this board before... but i guess the mod decided to move it anyways... I'd delete it if i could... sorry :(.

Nov 05, 2007
sprmario in France

Paris (from S. Fla, point of view) [moved from Florida board]

I've been reading the France board here and on another food related site... so i have a good idea of the locals point of view.

I'm just wondering if any of my fellow South Floridians have been to Paris recently (or even not so recently) and have any thoughts to share on the food.

I have two high end restaurant reservations at Taillevent and Pierre Gagnaire, so i've got that covered.

Nov 05, 2007
sprmario in France

Help... i'm somewhat overwhelmed (Paris in 18 days)

I certainly hope so! We are both extremely excited to be dining in Paris next week.

Nov 05, 2007
sprmario in France

First Time in Paris--Looking for an Unforgettable Lunch

Last monday we tried to get reservations for lunch at Gagniere between the 13th and 19th of November and they replied that they were booked solid until the 27th of November for Lunch.

The concierge at our Hotel was able to get us a reservation for the 15th for Lunch however 2 days later.

So maybe try through a concierge and you'll have better luck than directly.

Nov 05, 2007
sprmario in France

Help... i'm somewhat overwhelmed (Paris in 18 days)

Ok, my fiance just informed me that she managed to secure reservations to Pierre Gagniere for lunch on the 15th!

I'm very excited.

So, we have Taillevent on the 13th and Gagnaire on the 15th for lunch.

Thank you all for your help in trying to select two special and memorable lunches for me and my bride to be.

Thanks again, Mario.

Nov 03, 2007
sprmario in France