Nothing Dutch about the Dutch

November 20, 2011

So yet another New York transplant has made its way to Miami Beach; The Dutch opened its doors to the public this passed week. We headed over to The W South Beach hotel where The Dutch is located and I can honestly say I had never seen so much collagen, fake tits and skin tight mini dresses in my life. There were all sorts of hoes running around that hotel, tourist hoes, guidette hoes and chonga hoes lookin for their papi chulo. We made our way to the restaurant after getting slightly lost inside the hotel. The restaurant looks similar to one of those Ikea display rooms with little odds and ends atop modern looking bookshelves throughout the place. The staff at the door and bar all looked like Abercrombie & Fitch models and were friendly. The restaurant was filled with people laughing and genuinely having a fun-filled time, at first glance the place looked very promising.

Once we sat down our waiter, was kind enough to go over the menu. We looked over it and had a hard time narrowing down what we wanted. One thing we did notice, there is nothing particularly Dutch about the menu, none the less, they had an eclectic selection of food. My date opted for bottled sparkling water (he’s fancy like that) and the runner that brought out the sparkling water had a hard time understanding the concept that only one person wanted sparkling water. Not only did the runner have a hard time understanding this, so did our waiter. Even to the extent of pouring sparkling water into my humble cup of flat water. Besides that minor snafu, our dinner was relatively smooth sailings.

We started out with their complimentary cornbread. It was really soft, moist and flavorful. Lather it up with some of their homemade buttah and it sky rockets to another level. You get a whole mini loaf to yourself and you cant help but have just one bite. You have to be sure to eat it with caution, you can easily eat the whole loaf by yourself and be full before your appetizer hits the table.

Immediately after our bread, we were presented with our three different appetizers. First I’ll cover their Spicy Coconut Lobster. The presentation on this was really neat; it’s served in a halved coconut shell over a plate filled with crushed ice. The lobster itself seemed almost like a lobster ceviche served in a creamy sauce. Although, there wasn’t much spiciness to the dish as its name would suggest, it was very flavorful and fresh. My date only allowed me one bite of this dish, because he’s not only fancy, he’s also greedy. So I’m not able to elaborate too much on the sauce or minced vegetables that were in it. All I can attest to is that the one bite I had definitely left me wanting more. The lobster was tender and the sauce really popped with flavor.

Up next I had their Roasted Beet Salad. The salad is comprised of pieces of fresh grapefruit, fresh goat cheese, pistachios, giant chunks of roast beets and some arugula sprinkled over the top. I had honestly never had beets before and this was my first time having them (truth be told, I’ve been a vegetable-phobe the vast majority of my life) and I really loved the flavor of the roasted beets. I loved the combination of goat cheese and grapefruit alongside the intense flavor of the beets. It worked really well and the little added crunch from the pistachios was a fun touch to this out of the ordinary salad. Only two slightly negative things I have to say about this dish are as follows: the actual chunks themselves were too big and I would’ve preferred them cut into smaller mouthful pieces and I would’ve loved to see more goat cheese on this dish instead of a light sprinkling. Other than that, I really enjoyed it.
We then moved onto their Steak Tartare. The menu states that the tartare is served with arugula, truffle dressing and walnuts. However, the dish we were served had the steak tartare, over a phenomenal truffle dressing, a fried quail egg, crostini and arugula. I personally loved this dish and it was easily the best dish of the night. The truffle dressing was creamy and intensely flavorful, the meat was fresh and the crostini added a great crunch and variety of texture to the whole dish. The quail egg just made this already great dish even better. I found myself scraping the plate with my fork trying to get every last drop of truffle dressing when it was all over. It was that good.
We then moved onto the their Blue Crab Pizza that comes with tomato, zucchini, jalapeno and thinly sliced cucumbers. I didn’t try this appetizer because I was trying feverishly to save room for my entrée and dessert. My date ate the whole pizza like a champ. It was a very thin crust and served on a large wooden cutting board. The colors on the pizza were bright and all of the ingredients appeared fresh. He did say that he felt the flavor of the crab meat was slightly lost amongst the overpowering flavors of the pizza sauce, jalapeno and cucumbers. None the less, we continued our journey.
We finally moved into our entrees. I kept it simple and went with their Pappardelle with lamb ragu, homemade sheep’s milk ricotta and minced mint over the top. I loved the freshness of the pasta and the sauce was wonderfully great but in no-way overpowered the flavor of the lamb, if anything the lamb’s flavor was enhanced by the sauce and the tiny hint of fresh mint went perfectly. These folks didn't skimp on the meat either, this was a heavy meat sauce with tons of meat in every bite. The ricotta also had a great, creamy texture. Again I would’ve liked a bigger dollop of ricotta on my pasta (keep in mind I’m a total cheese hound and I always want more cheese). This dish was a true testament to how different a plate can be when you use fresh ingredients. I honestly had no complaints about this dish and wouldn’t hesitate in having it again.
My date had their Maine Sea Scallops with heirloom cauliflower and citrus. His dish was so colorful and it looked absolutely delicious. That greedy bastard didn’t share any yet again. The dish had three of the biggest sea scallops I have ever seen set a top two different sauces and a wedge of what looked like mandarin orange over each piece. I’m embarrassed at the lack of details I have about this dish because it looked so damn good. The cauliflower was so brightly colored and looked like they had just picked it from the garden. Atop of that there was also a small sprinkling of pine nuts and caramelized onions. He gobbled that dish up like a marielito during Noche Buena and he didn’t hesitate to tell me that it was his favorite dish along with the steak tartare. Bastard.
Finally, we wrapped up the night with a fat slice of their Devil’s Food Cake. This was so delicious, it was chocolate cake with a really thick chocolate fudge frosting in between each layer of cake. The flavor of real chocolate and fudge beamed through and the side of White Russian ice cream tied in perfectly and helped mellow the richness of the chocolate cake. This dessert just made you keep eating more. My favorite part of this dish was the icing on the cake, the menu states it’s a black pepper boiled icing. I didn’t necessarily taste any black pepper and if you ask me the icing seemed like a thick and creamy meringue that added a nice creaminess to the cake. I love chocolate and the intense flavor of real dark chocolate had me at, “Hello.”
I really liked this place and wouldn’t hesitate in going back. Overall, the food is great and fresh, the location is ideal for people watching and the restaurant is aesthetically pleasing to the eye (if you like Ikea catalogues) My only major complaint is that there are no restrooms inside the restaurant itself. If you need to excuse yourself to the bathroom, you’ll be gone for about 30 minutes because the nearest restroom is on the other side of the hotel. The price range of this place is a little on the high side, so its definitely a place to go if you want to splurge or impress a hot date. Either way, it’s a place to check out if you’re looking for good food or tourist hoes in the hotel lobby.

Restaurant Details:
The Dutch
Inside the W South Beach Hotel
(305) 938-3111
2201 Collins Ave
Miami Beach, FL 33139

 The Dutch (W South Beach Hotel) on Urbanspoon

:CLOSED: A New Ice Cream Truck is in the Haus!

November 18, 2011

There is a new food truck in town, or should I say there are 100 new food trucks in town? One in particular just opened up this past week during the Wynwood Artwalk. Coolhaus is an aluminum wrapped truck offering straight up homemade ice cream sandwiches. This isn’t your regular ice cream sandwich either, with ice cream flavors such as, balsamic fig with mascarpone and brown butter with candied bacon there is nothing usual about this truck’s offerings. The way the operation runs, you have an unlimited amount of options. You choose your own cookies, your own ice cream filling or if you want to go balls to the wall and get an ice cream sandwich skyscraper consisting of 6 cookies and 5 scoops of ice cream. The company, which originated in Los Angeles, has expanded its horizons and set up trucks in New York, Los Angeles, Austin and Miami.
I had been feverishly stalking this truck on Twitter for several weeks and I was finally able to make my attack one day on the way home from work. I walked up to the truck and was greeted by a very helpful and mellow girl who was able to give me a run down on the company and all the funky flavors this truck has to offer. She was also kind enough to let me sample a couple of flavors. After reviewing the menu, I decided to make my self a sammy consisting of their brown butter with candied bacon ice cream in between 2 potato chip with skor bar (toffee) cookies. “Holy shit!” were the only words that seemed to come out of my mouth for the first few bites. The ice cream with the candied bacon worked great all on it’s own, the subtle flavor of the brown butter ice cream with the candied bacon had a tiny hint of salty and smoky that worked really well. Throw in the sharp flavor of the toffee and saltiness from the cookie, it just worked perfectly together. The best part was the cookie comes in an edible wrapper that you can eat as you go. The fun part is telling you friends afterwards, “It was so good I ate the damn wrapper,” but careful, if your friends are anything like my friends, they’ll just look at you and call you a dumbass.
Before calling it a day, I sampled a couple of flavors. I tried their dirty mint chip ice cream. The reason it has the name ‘dirty’ is because the ice cream has specks of brown sugar and fresh mint leaves. This ice cream was the most refreshing ice cream I had ever had. Throw in a couple shots of Bacardi and you’ve got yourself a mojito milkshake. The fresh mint leaves in the ice cream completely redefined the expectation of mint chocolate chip ice cream for me. I really loved this ice cream and really wish I had a flask of rum handy. Luckily, there’s always next time.
The last ice cream flavor I tried was their sweet potato and marshmallow swirl ice cream. It tasted like a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner. The flavor of both the sweet potato and real marshmallows shined through harmoniously. The best part is, I was informed that they use fresh ingredients for all of their cookies and ice creams and they are all handmade in house.
I walked away from this truck wanting to try all of the flavors they have to offer, but in an attempt to avoid a diabetic coma I forced myself to back away slowly. In a food truck scene that’s become inundated with burgers, fritas, and french fries , it’s nice to see a truck come in with a fresh and different concept offering homemade sweets.
Food Truck Details:

Metro Organic Bistro - CLOSED

November 13, 2011

I had been passing by Metro Organic Bistro for almost three years now whenever I drove down Biscayne Blvd. I was always intrigued by this little place, covered in shrubs, bushes and a hint of mystery. I had never really heard much about it, but I decided to just pull in and try it out. I noticed as I pulled in there is a car wash directly attached to the bistro, which turns out to be owned by the same person. So this was a novel idea, get a nice organic meal while your car gets washed and detailed. I decided to throw caution to the wind and just give it a try.

The weather was really nice so I decided to sit outside on their couch. The tablescapes are clean, white and simple with just a tiny bit of color from a handful of fresh daisies in a small vase. My waiter was friendly and took the time to explain the menu since I was a newbie. He stated the restaurant prides itself in being 100% sustainable and organic. I liked the concept and decided to look over the menu. The menu had a variety of different options from carpaccio to organic asian slaw. I also noticed the restaurant offers a lot of vegetarian friendly fare.

I decided to go vegetarian for a meal and I started out with their Truffled Polenta as my appetizer. When the dish was set down on the table I had to fight the urge to tell the waiter, “No no, I asked for polenta, not jello!” The polenta looked like it had just been plopped out of a mold. Worst part was that the dish was almost cold. It was a complete shame because the flavor was spot on. The polenta had the perfect amount of salt, pepper and truffle oil. The freshly chopped parsley over the top was also a nice touch. The only thing the polenta was missing was a little bit of water and a few more seconds in the microwave. This dish left me with mixed feelings and begrudgingly, I moved on to my entrée.

My entrée was their Sprouted Chickpea Cakes. The cakes came stacked high with fresh avocado, butter beans, tomatoes, onions, tossed in a lemon vinaigrette. This dish was insanely flavorful. I loved the butter beans and they worked perfectly with the rest of the plate. The avocados were fresh and the lemon vinaigrette gave the dish an extra little, ‘zing!“ In a city where I constantly keep running into bland food, the seasoning was on the money on both of the dishes I had. My only gripe was that the chickpea cake was room temperature and obviously not cooked to order. Again I was left feeling almost bittersweet.

Although the flavor and seasoning on both of my dishes was perfect, it was disheartening that both dishes were almost cold. I really want to like this place, there’s a great potential at this little hole in the wall bistro. If only they could get their crap together and heat their food to an acceptable minimum. Or even cook the food to order, that’s a novel idea that no one has ever thought of. After I left the restaurant and started looking up more information on it, I found out that Metro Organic Bistro won 2011’s ‘Best Natural Foods Restaurant’ in the Miami New Times Best Of list. This is a place with a lot of potential and a lot to offer, but it still has some work to do in my opinion

Restaurant Details:
Metro Organic Bistro
(305) 751-8756
7010 Biscayne Blvd.
Miami, FL 33138

Metro Organic Bistro on Urbanspoon

Tapas Style Brunch at Sugarcane

November 10, 2011

The first time I wrote about Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill, I wrote about their happy hour. This time around I’m going to write about their brunch. A couple of girlfriends and myself headed over on a Sunday afternoon eager to try their tapas style line up. Unlike the hustle and bustle this restaurant has on any given night, the Sunday morning flow is nice and easy coinciding with what a lazy Sunday should be. This restaurant has a completely different vibe during brunch, everything feels laid back and in slow motion. On the other hand, I might’ve still been drunk from the night before, which would explain the slow motion effects. Either way, I liked it.

We started off brunch with alcohol, naturally. One of my friends went with the Passion Fruit Bubbles, I had my ever faithful Blackberry Toast and my other friend had their Hibiscus Blossom. The Passion Fruit Bubbles is a wonderful combination of passion fruit juice, strawberries and plum sake. It’s a great, girly and tropical start to any lazy weekend. The flavors in this drink play on your tongue like kids playing hopscotch. My drink, the Blackberry Toast, is a more hearty drink. There’s nothing like starting your day with a little bourbon if you ask me. This is my favorite cocktail at Sugarcane, it’s Jim Beam Bourbon, muddled blackberries, their “secret syrup” and thyme. The last drink of the bunch is a bit more flowery, literally; the Hibiscus Blossom is made from hibiscus infused cachaca, citrus essence and mint. One thing I can say is Sugarcane’s bar is one of the most inventive I’ve seen in a while. Their bar has no qualms with going out on a limb and trying radical new things. Which is one of the reasons why I enjoy this place so much.

When it came to the food, we started out with their sweet bread basket. The breads featured in their bread basket change daily and in our basket was zucchini, banana breads and a raspberry/blueberry muffin. The jams and butters that came along with our bread basket were pumpkin butter, nutella and a fresh made cranberry marmalade. All three of the breads were soft, flavorful and freshly baked. The pumpkin butter, although creative, could have used slightly more pumpkin flavor and seasoning. The nutella was, well it was nutella. It was great but nothing really unique about serving nutella. The cranberry marmalade was by far my favorite with a playful combination of both tart and sweet flavors which went perfectly with the blueberry/raspberry muffin.

Up next we had their Goat Cheese Croquettes, which are also available on their regular menu. This is one of my ‘old reliable’ dishes at Sugarcane. The sharp taste of the goat cheese is paired well with a sweet membrillo marmalade. The texture of the soft and warm goat cheese is contrasted nicely by the crispy outside of these piping hot croquettes.

We then moved into heavier dishes with the Duck and Waffles. This is Sugarcane’s take on fried chicken and waffles. I personally really liked this. The waffles are piled high with fried, bone-in duck meat and a fried duck egg over the top. There is also a side of mustard maple syrup served along with this dish that compliments it in a flavorful yet subtle way. This definitely isn’t your typical southern chicken and waffles. The seasoning on the duck is slightly more spicy and it went well with the mustard infused maple syrup. The waffles were soft and warm and did a good job of soaking up the maple syrup and runny yolk from the fried duck egg. My girlfriends and I were all impressed with this dish and the interesting twist Sugarcane brought to this southern staple.

After that hearty plate, we moved on to their house made chorizo. This bad boy came out served whole in all of its phallic glory saying, “Hello ladies, don’t be shy and put me in your mouth.” Of course, leave it to me to be the first one to dig in. The flavors were very reminiscent to a Colombian chorizo. The chorizo was completely different to any typical American sausage that most people are accustomed to and nothing like your McDonalds sausage patty. Both of my girlfriends and I are at least part Colombian and we really enjoyed it. The flavor was slightly subtle at first but picked up heat and intensity as you chewed. By the time we were done eating it we were left wanting so much more than what we got, much like how some girls feel about the chorizo's phallic look alike.

We then moved onto the Truffled Toad in the Hole. For this dish, Sugarcane used a thick slice of fresh brioche with an organic egg cooked right in the middle then topped with fresh melted Robiola cheese and black truffle. There are very few things (and even people) that I like more than brioche and melted cheese. Again, Sugarcane knocked it out of the park with this innovative twist on an old school dish. The best part of this dish was when you were lucky enough to get a little bit of everything in one bite. The only criticism I do have about this dish is that I felt the egg was a little undercooked for my personal preference. None the less, the flavor of the robiola cheese and the earthy almost nutty flavor of the truffle went perfectly together. This was probably my favorite dish of the day.

Lastly we had waffles yet again. We didn’t really plan this well and had a total waffle overload. We went with their Belgian Waffle with bananas, strawberries and nutella. This dish isn’t very original, but it’s great and well executed either way. If we weren’t so full by the time this dish was served, we would’ve eaten every last bite. The waffles were fresh and warm; the combination of nutella, strawberries and bananas is ALWAYS a winner. Together they worked wonderfully, if only we hadn’t been so full.

Overall, I truly enjoyed my brunch at Sugarcane. I love the inventiveness of the chefs and bartenders. Several of the brunch items are old school favorites with a new school twist. The drinks were refreshing and interesting. The items are fresh and cooked to order. The items are brought out as they’re ready in no particular order. This is one of the few places that I always recommend when someone is looking for a fun and different place to go to, I’m glad to see that they’re brunch offerings are just as good as their dinner/lunch menu. Plus who doesn’t like starting their day with a full bar?!

Restaurant Details:
Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill
(786) 369-0353
3250 NE 1st Ave
Miami, FL 33137

Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill on Urbanspoon