Monday, November 17, 2014

Downtown Bistro

One of the things that always worries me when I'm going to go eat somewhere in the Downtown area is parking.  You know how rough that can get - circling around aimlessly  - whether you're on a quick lunch fix or an evening date.  So when I find a spot that has accessible parking nearby, and most importantly, at an affordable price, it automatically gets a star in my book. Let me tell you about Downtown Bistro, located at 114 S.E. 1st Street. Downtown Bistro is a relatively new place serving a modern twist on French fusion cuisine. Think of it as a"joyau caché" or  "hidden gem" with a cozy decor that has the potential to become the newest neighborhood hot spot. They offer lunch, dinner, Saturday brunch, take-out and catering, so there's pretty much a menu for just about any craving (and I say that with my very sexy, albeit probably not accurate, French accent).



We went to Downtown Bistro for a media dine with a bunch of other local foodies and got the opportunity to check out their dinner menu, sampling a hefty number of their dishes. I have to say I was quite impressed. We started off with some hors d'oeuvres and one of their Sake Cocktails. While they don't offer a full bar yet, they do have a nice selection of wine and beer, and kudos to their bartender for doing wonders with that.



Once we sat down and the debauchery began, I felt like I was Belle in Beauty and the Beast. They weren't spoon, forks, or suave candlesticks, but these waiters placed dish after dish of delicious French fare in front of us and I am sure I could hear them singing "Be Our Guest" in my mind. (They probably weren't but I've always wanted to be in that musical.) Tie your napkin 'round your neck cherie and take a look at what you can savor at Downtown Bistro:


Carpaccio de Poulpe
Octopus carpaccio with sauteed cherry tomatoes & passion fruit vinaigrette

Crudo de Thon
Yellowfin tuna crudo on a bed of garden radish and cucumbers

Escargots a la creme
Snails in a heavenly cream sauce

Le Steak Tartare au Couteau
Raw filet mignon cut by hand, capers, onions, anchovies, dijon mustard and a quail egg. One of my faves by far.

Petit Veloute de Potiron
Butternut squash shooter

Medallion de Chevre frit sur Potiron et roquette avec senteurs de truffes
Fried goat cheese medallion on pumpkin puree, arugula and truffle oil

Caprese de pasteque tiede avec mozzarella de buffalo, huile de truffe, miette de prosciutto croquant
Watermelon and buffalo mozarella caprese, truffle oil, and crispy prosciutto crumbs


Les Moules au Bleu
Steamed musssels in red wine, blue cheese and spinach

Ravioli de Short Rib, Sauce, Quatre Fromage, gambas pochees, asperges
Short rib ravioli with a cheese sauce, poached shrimp and asparagus

Carre d'agneau avec Risotto maison
Lamb rack with portobello risotto infused with truffle oil
Variation de Desserts
Chocolate Mousse, Raspberry Tartelette, Creme Brulee and Fried Oreo

Hungry yet? Let me finish by saying... pardon my french. But now you know how to ask for these dishes in two languages. For more information on Downtown Bistro, visit their website at http://www.downtownbistromiami.com/home.html.


Downtown Bistro on Urbanspoon


Monday, November 10, 2014

Petit Bistro in Miami Beach



When someone mentions Purdy Avenue, I think of Purdy Lounge and a few very interesting memories pop into my head from my newly single again days a while back. But I'm sure you don't want to read about that (or maybe you do). However, there's another spot on that very same street that has caught my eye, or my appetite, and that is Petit Bistro, located at 1929 Purdy Avenue in Miami Beach.





Petit Bistro is the latest venture of restaurateurs Luca Guelfi and Simona Miele, the dynamic duo behind several very successful restaurants in Italy and Spain. They designed Petit Bistro with the charm and warmth of the French Provence, and its décor immediately took me back to my visit there - from the pickled wood, to the antique accessories - walking into the cozy place is transcendental.  Aside from the interior space lit by an endless number of candles, there is an outdoor terrace, just as charming, that draws your attention with its simple elegance.


Salmon Tartare


Peach Bellini
Tuna
Basking in the ambiance, we perused the menu and decided to start with a round of refreshing Peach Bellinis and a Salmon Tartare. Like the ambiance, the salmon tartare was flawless, prepared with avocadoes, spring onions and sweet vinaigrette. After some sweet conversation in such a magical place, we ordered our entrees. We chose the Veal Chop, which was the Special of the Day and the Tuna. Made with pistachio nuts and sunchoke puree, the texture of the tuna was impeccable. What the dish lacked in presentation, it more than made up for in taste. It was fresh, flavorful and absolutely alluring. The hit of the night, however, was the Veal Chop. I don't think we had tasted one like it before.  It was lean and tender, practically dissolving in a nirvana of deliciousness with each bite. The veal was served topped with fresh greens, cherry tomatoes and potato wedges.


Veal Chop


Tiramisu
Nutella Cheesecake
After such an enthralling meal, we were excited about dessert. We chose the Tiramisu and the Nutella Cheesecake, both equally calling out to us. It was a sweet finale to a very memorable evening. As a matter of fact, I loved my experience so much, I just returned to Petit Bistro this weekend for another exciting adventure in what is sure to become Miami Beach's virtual trip to the French Provence. Now I have a whole other place to make memories at on Purdy Avenue.


Of course.. a café to end the evening

For more information on Petit Bistro or to make reservations, you can visit their website at http://www.petitbistrogroup.com/miami/ or call them at 305 534-9887.


Petit on Urbanspoon

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Lhardy Kitchen & Bar in Coral Gables

If you've driven down Miracle Mile lately, you've noticed that there's a brand new spot on the corner of 301 Miracle Mile, where La Tagliatella used to be. It's Lhardy Kitchen & Bar, a restaurant that belongs to a group creator of 88 brands of restaurants, nightclubs and hotels with more than 300 establishments spanning eight countries.

Lhardy Kitchen & Bar kept the opulent and rich decor of its predecessor and is now giving Coral Gables foodies an excellent option for international cuisine. I recently visited Lhardy Kitchen & Bar for both their Happy Hour and their Executive Lunch. I was very pleased with both.

Me sipping a cocktail spontaneously created
by the mixologist at Lhardy's

Crab Salad
Tuna Tartar
Let's start with the one you want me to talk about the most: Happy Hour. Happening Monday through Friday, from 3:30 pm -7:00 pm (in the bar and bar area only), Lhardy features an excellent selection of Draft Beers, Specialty Cocktails (my favorites), Wines and Spumanti and Well Drinks. The creative libations can be paired with their signature Pizzas, as well as a variety of other dishes from their Bar Bites Menu. I absolutely went cuckoo over their Tuna Tartar, prepared with smoked chipotle, capers and leeks, atop crispy wonton chips. Another favorite for me was their light and mild-flavored Crab Salad.


Bufala Pizza

Jerk Wings
Lhardy Pizza
The Jerk Wings were delicious as well, nicely marinated and served with a homemade Gorgonzola Sauce. But I think the pizzas took the cake.. sort of speak. Of the three I tasted, my top contender was the Sweet & Sour, boasting a fun combination of crispy eggplant, honey, balsamic glaze and arugula salad.



I had a moment with this Chocolate Martini


Arancini
Sweet & Sour Pizza
Pair the good food and the refreshing drinks with an upscale, yet relaxing ambiance, and you got the formula for a nice place to gather with friends after a long day at work. Speaking about work, I noticed Lhardy served an Executive Lunch during the week until 4 pm that included an appetizer, entree and dessert for just $13.99. I figured I'd check it out the next day since they were on a roll so far and my boss was out of town.

If you're in the area at lunch time or can make the drive, Lhardy's Executive Lunch is totally worth it in value, taste and time. I was in and out in just 30 minutes, which is awesome because I still had time to play. As soon as I sat down, the waiter brought over a complimentary basket of warm bread with the most amazing sun dried tomato paste. I couldn't stop dipping.

Zucchini Soup
After looking at the menu, I decided to start with the Zucchini Soup. It was an adventure for me because I wasn't sure if I was going to like it but I am happy to report, I did. It was creamy and flavorful, a perfect beginning to my midday meal. Next, I ordered the homemade Cannelloni with Spinach and Ricotta, spread in a tomato and bechamel sauce. Divine! The pasta was perfectly cooked.


Cannelloni with Spinach and Ricotta

For dessert, I went for the Crema Catalana, a Spanish custard topped with a contrasting layer of hard caramel. It wasn't the most spectacular I've had, but it did the trick and I really couldn't believe this lunch, served with great service in a beautiful setting, only cost $13.99. By the way, on the way out, I noticed they make their own Limoncello in house, and I couldn't help but get me a glass. Sssshhh...that's just between me and you.

Being a bad girl with my afternoon  Limoncello

For more information on Lhardy Kitchen & Bar, visit their website or call them at 786-464-0516.


Lhardy Kitchen + Bar on Urbanspoon

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Michelle Bernstein Brings The Holidays Closer at Macy's in Aventura Mall

It isn't just the cooler weather in Miami that's bringing the holidays closer.  Macy's Culinary Council Chef Michelle Bernstein is pairing up holiday cooking with the ever-popular brunch, by sharing her award-winning holiday brunch recipes at Macy's in Aventura Mall this coming Saturday, October 25th at noon.

Michelle Bernstein

Miami's own Bernstein is well known not only for her incredible talent in the kitchen, and charismatic presence in her show, Check Please,  but also for her popular Design District restaurant Crumb on Parchment. Her latest ventures include an outpost at the Sun Life Stadium that will feature Bernstein's healthy yet flavorful dishes and a new South Beach restaurant slated to open this Fall: Seagrape. The "Floridian Brasserie" will be located at the Thompson Hotel and will offer fresh veggie plates, premium steaks and a raw bar.

Availabilty for this fabulous cooking demo at Macy's is going fast. What better way can you think of for a foodie to spend an afternoon than interacting with a James Beard Award Winning chef, while sampling delicious food and learning some tips to impress the family at home over the holidays? I bet you we both agree on the answer. And as if the good time alone isn't enough, if you purchase $35 or more in the Home Department at Macy's on the day of the event, you will receive a $10 gift card and a copy of Bernstein's cookbook Cuisine A Latina, which she will sign for you.

For more information on Macy's Culinary Council and their chefs, visit their website.




I am a member of the Everywhere Society and Everywhere Society has provided me with compensation for the post. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Mojito Madness at TK's at the Villa Mayfair

I'm sure many of you feel the same way when Fridays come around; that need to shed the stress and unwind the tightness from at least 40 hours of the usual grind. For me, the process usually starts with alcohol, enticing food and live music. Add good company to the ritual and I start destressing in minutes. 

Pineapple Mojito and Wild Berry Mojito

Well I discovered the perfect place to get rid of the madness. Have you been to TK's at the Villa Mayfair lately? I had heard about the place located at 2901 Florida Avenue in Coconut Grove for a while, even followed them on Twitter, but it wasn't until I heard they were kicking off Mojito Madness on Friday nights that I actually visited the restaurant. It was great.

Add caption
Close your eyes and imagine this: It's Friday night, you've been closing some deals and getting some hell all week and you're ready to bring on the weekend. You don your guayabera, grab your date and head over to the Grove where a Cigar Roller hands you a freshly rolled cigar, and then you step into TK's and start drumming your fingers to therapeutic, live Cuban music. Within minutes, you sit and your server brings you not only a food menu that gets you salivating instantly but a selection of over 20 mojitos to soothe your soul. The only problem? Which ones do you choose? The solution? They're only $10 each so why restrict yourself? Taxis are abundant in Miami and there's always Uber.

Beef Carpaccio
I sampled several myself when I was there and I love that there is enough variety to satisfy just about every preference. Personally,  I tend to like my mojitos fruity while my date stuck to the more to traditional kind. The ingredients were fresh and they were quite addicting; the perfect cocktail pairing to the sultry ambiance. Of course, the evening would not have been a complete success for me without equally spectacular food, and TK's hit it on the money there too. We started off with their Beef Carpaccio, made with thinly sliced prime beef, creamy blue cheese, capers, onions and arugula. Next, we ordered their signature TK's Tuna Tartare (are your surprised?). Refreshingly flavorful diced tuna, came together in a spherical delight of avocado, sesame oil and soy lime dressing, and was then crowned with crispy shallots. Oh, I had to have another mojito in celebration of this dish.

TK's Tuna Tartare

Sweet Potato Fries
Scallops Gratin
For entrees, we ordered the Grilled Pork Chops and the Scallops Gratin. The Grilled Pork Chops consisted of a double-cut grilled pork chop served with baby carrots, sweet peas and potatoes, all atop a mushroom demi glace. The Scallops Gratin were tender bites of baked scallops topped with prosciutto pernod gratin in white wine butter sauce, with slices of crispy toasts in between. As side dishes, we tried the Sweet Potato Fries served with homemade ranch that were insane and the Bacon And Brie Tater Tots.

Grilled Pork Chops

Bacon and Brie Tater Tots

Happy and relaxed, after some luscious mojitos, dancing and great food, we ordered the sweet finale: an amazing Guava Cheesecake that sealed the deal for us. That's it...my weekend started right there and I couldn't wait to return for more. For additional information on TK's Villa at the Mayfair and Mojito Madness, visit their website.

Cheesecake


TK's at the Villa Mayfair on Urbanspoon