Thursday, March 26, 2015

New Bonefish Grill Opens in Aventura

I"m sure when you hear the words "Bang Bang Shrimp" you think of one specific place: Bonefish Grill, and just a few weeks ago on March 2nd, the popular seafood chain opened another location in Miami. They took advantage of the day not only to serve the community fresh, delicious seafood, but also to benefit the American Red Cross of South Florida by donating 50% of each check to the service organization. For those of you living or playing in the north part of the county, you can now enjoy the fresh fish and casual ambiance Bonefish Grill is known for at their newest spot at 18713 Biscayne Boulevard.
 
 
 
                                               


I had the opportunity to participate in a tour of the restaurant before its opening and get a preview of their menu (including their new bar bite offerings) and I was impressed. First of all, the brand's decor has been revamped, providing guests with a sleek, more contemporary look, and the quality and preparation of the food was on point with every dish served. Staff was being trained and by the look and feel of things, they're off to a superb start.
 
 
 
 
We began the evening with one their signature cocktails paired with some mouthwatering appetizers. The sweet Martini was amazing and complemented the flavorful Chipotle Shrimp Flatbread like heels complement a pretty dress. Their hand crafted cocktails are truly bar fresh and an inspired innovation that will make you feel all tingly inside.
 
Martini
 
Chipotle Shrimp Flatbread
Roasted Shrimp, Peppers, Gruyere Cheese
Fresh Grilled Pineapple finished with Cheese
Crumbles and Chipotle BBQ Sauce 

As we chatted and enjoyed the comfortable suroundings, we also munched on their famous Bang Bang Shrimp.  It really wouldn't have been a trip to Bonefish Grill if we hadn't. As we sat down, ready for our wine pairing dinner, the chef came out to talk to us and explained every detail of the dishes prepared for the evening, as well as the reason why they chose each wine. There was a definite excitement in the air coming from the Bonefish Grill team that explains why they are growing at the rate they are, with a total of 208 restaurants. (This one is lucky 13 for South Florida).
 
 
Bang Bang Shrimp
Crispy shrimp tossed in a creamy, spicy sauce

The Chef gave us an inside look of Bonefish Grill
 
Because sometimes we need a visual to truly grasp things, check out the parade of dishes we sunk our teeth into and tell me if they don't make you want to run there for your next meal. And I have to add... if I could somehow magically incorporate your other senses into my post, you'd find their oak wood burning grill gives their dishes a unique kiss for flavor that leaves a lasting impression on the palate.


Cilantro Lime Shrimp Salad
Fresh roasted corn, black beans, Feta cheese, grape tomatoes
and red onions, drizzled with a cilantro lime vinaigrette and
paired with a smooth and refreshing Sauvignon Blanc
 
 
Part of their new Bar Bites Menu: In the Shell  Street Tacos
with Ahi Tuna Tartare, served in a crisp, wonton shell
 
This Surf & Turf threesome was my favorite!
Ahi Tuna Steak grilled and topped with Pan Asian
sauce with hints of ginger, Chilean Sea Bass topped with
mango salsa over French green beans and Filet Mignon
bathed with a garlic truffle butter. The dish was paired
with Conondrum, a red wine with a surprise blend of grapes
 
Always room for dessert:  Berries berries and more berries
bring this sweet finale home.
  
Part of their new  In + On Bar Menu, these In the Dough
Croissant Doughnuts, tossed in cinnamon sugar, come with their very own bottles of
Sea Salt Caramel and Chocolate Sauce so you could inject
as much gooey deliciousness into them as you want.
 

 For more information on the newest Bonefish Grill to hit South Florida, visit their website.


Bonefish Grill on Urbanspoon

Monday, March 16, 2015

Morton's North Miami Beach Launches New Lunch

It's always great to find a place that offers a nice lunch in a relaxing, yet elegant setting and I happen to have found one very recently. Miami was packed with things to do this Valentine's Day weekend - from the Miami Boat Show to the Coconut Grove Art Show- to cuddling with your boo for some romantic alone time. Being in the north part of town for the day, we decided to go for an afternoon meal in North Miami Beach. I don't come to this area often enough, and it is a nice spot right in the center of bustling Aventura and Miami's sparkling beaches. So, we stopped at Morton's North Miami Beach, located at 17399 Biscayne Boulevard, which just started opening for lunch.




The interior of the restaurant is timeless, with a classic look and impeccable service. We started by sipping an incredible Pinot Noir that we immediately fell in love with. Our server brought us the regular lunch menu and their new Three Course Prime Lunch menu, which happens to offer a great selection of dishes including a soup or salad, entree and dessert. The best part is that it is priced just right. Because we were at Morton's, and you know how amazing their steaks are, we compromised and ordered from both menus.


Ahi Tuna Tower

The foreplay for the lunch came in the form of my heart fluttering passion: the Ahi Tuna Tower, consisting of what appeared to be a heart-shaped layered tower of fresh, mouthwatering tuna mixed with avocado, pico de gallo and wonton crisps. Yes! After that, we indulged in one of their signature lunch specialties that I thought about for days. One bite into their Shrimp Salad Trio, and we were both smiling incessantly. It was a colorful treat of shrimp salad stuffed avocado, served with  a chopped salad and a flavorful tomato bisque. If I had to choose a favorite for the day, this would be it. Filling, yet refreshing and light, it's the perfect lunch combo. Plus, I happen to love tomato soup, and this one was prepared with just the right amount of seasoning.


Shrimp Salad Trio

Lobster Bisque
Baked Stuffed Jumbo Shrimp
Since we decided to try the Three Course Prime Lunch as well, the first course we ordered was the Lobster Bisque. It was creamy, a little buttery with just a hint of spice and garlic. I have to admit though, it had a hard time standing up to the tomato bisque. That one still had my mind reeling. As an entree, we chose the Baked Stuffed Jumbo Shrimp with Crabmeat Stuffing and Parmesan Capellini. The portion was ideal and I enjoyed the succulent taste of the crabmeat stuffing which generously filled each shrimp.


Filet Mignon
Onion Rings
We couldn't walk away without savoring one of Morton's juicy steaks so we ordered the Center Cut Filet Mignon (6 oz), and paired it with a side order of their Onion Rings. Needless to say, the steak was grilled to perfection and it practically melted in our mouths. It's quite a spiritual experience to indulge in one of Morton's prime steaks, and this one just added a whole new level of spectacular to the meal.

Chocolate Souffle for Two

The Three Course Prime Lunch menu came with a choice of Double Chocolate Mousse or Cheesecake (which I had seen at a nearby table and both looked amazing) but we upgraded to the Chocolate Souffle For Two; after all, love was in the air, or at least a strong desire to put that spoonful of sweetness in our mouths. It was a gushing moment of lustful indulgence that could only be described as unforgettable.

We left Morton's content and ready to continue enjoying Cupid's weekend with a definite plan to return. and not to mention, with a small piece of paper listing the name of a certain wine bottle we would be sharing that evening. For more information or to make reservations, you can visit their website or call them at 305-945-3131.


Morton's The Steakhouse on Urbanspoon



Sunday, March 8, 2015

Foods of NYC Tour

As I've shared with you many times, I think one of the best ways to get to know a city is through its food. And we all know that one of the top foodie capitals of the United States is... you guessed it...New York City. That's why on a recent trip to the Big Apple, I was excited to embark on a culinary journey through an area of the city that is known as an artists' haven, a Bohemian Capital, and home to the most authentic Italian food: the Greenwich Village. I wouldn't have known what spots to visit on my own so I decided to go on a foodie tour with Foods of New York Tours.




After looking at the different tours offered by Foods of New York Tours (they have a bunch), we decided to go with their Original Greenwich Village Tour, which took us to popular mom-and-pop food shops through the tree-lined and charming streets of one of NYC's oldest Italian neighborhoods, the historic west village.




As I have done in the past during my travels, I was looking for a tour that not only offered great food and a peek into the vibe and culture of the city,  but also included engaging historical information about the area, and recommendations to must-visit restaurants as well.




Bundled in layers of coats, and sporting our mittens, we met at Murray's Cheese Shop to start the tour. The aroma of cheese was enticing and I wanted to try all they offered, but since we were starting our feast at another location, we decided to save our craving for our return later in the day.




Our first stop was Joe's Pizza, a staple in the neighborhood that's been around since 1975. This family-owned spot serves the New York Style Pizza we all know and love - a cheesy delight with a thin and crispy crust. Voted "The Best Slice" (we never really knew by whom)  the pizza is prepared with homemade sauce, and made with tomatoes imported from Italy and low gluten dough. It is flavored with New York's finest, and I'm not referring to the cops, but to the NYC tap water, which locals swear is what makes it as popular as it is. You've probably heard of the place, as it's been featured in movies like Along Came Polly and Spider Man 2. We admired the photo-filled walls and grabbed a slice of heaven; closing our eyes to enjoy it.




From here, we walked  over to a O & Co., an olive oil shop that sells only the finest products from single state producers. We were given an informative presentation on harvesting olives as we munched on Tuscan bread topped with gourmet oil, and infused with basil and a fleur de salt finishing touch. After we oohed and aahed for a bit, they served us some popcorn sprinkled with truffle oil and that just took the gourmet experience to a new level.






The temperature was cold outside but it felt great to be eating our way through the neighborhood like locals. Our tour guide, Kerrianne, made the experience fun and she had some interesting facts to share with us in just about every corner. In keeping with the Italian theme, we stopped at Faicco's Italian Specialties, and while we waited out on the sidewalk, our tour guide brought us a platter of Arancini, or Rice Balls, which is one of their signature items. These were the kind of balls I didn't want to stop chewing. They were creamy and delicious, and I could see myself becoming quite addicted to them. Faicco's has been around for a while too. It turns out the family who own it came to New York in the 1800s and opened the store in 1900. It's definitely a must-try in the Greenwich Village.




As we walked to our next stop down Cornelia Street, Kerrianne entertained us with fun facts. She pointed out an old horse stable to our right where the Food Network filmed an episode of Next Chef and showed us the exact location where Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick had their first date: the Cornelia Street Cafe. Awww.





Next up, we headed over to our first sit down lunch stop at Trattoria Pesce Pasta, a classic NYC seafood joint that offers a small menu of fresh fish. Funny as this may sound, we didn't sample any seafood there but rather enjoyed their world famous meatball. Again, this one was voted best meatball, and again I'm not 100% sure by whom, but I can tell you it was really good. It's no wonder they want to show it off.






Our second sit down tasting followed our first and it was at an Italian restaurant (surprised?) serving Naples style food. This place was very charming, complete with a woodfire oven, and we were lucky enough to sit in the chef's table where we got a close-up look at the culinary action as it happened. Our sampling here was their homemade Eggplant Rollatini, filled with buffala ricotta cheese and baked in their woodfire oven. Now while alcohol is not included in the food tour, you can purchase wine or another alcoholic beverage at this restaurant at a special price.

Before heading back to Murray's to try some of their amazing cheese, we made a quick stop for our first dessert treat (yes... there was more than one). It was at Milk and Cookies Bakery, where we grabbed some gigantic and soft chocolate chip cookies. You know the kind. The ones you want to dip in a glass of cold milk.




Since we were done with all the savory dishes in the tour (quite a lot of food huh?) we returned to Murray's to try some of their amazing cheese. They had set up a nice spot for us in a private room upstairs, usually reserved for tastings and classes. After a few minutes, out came a platter of delectable cheeses and pairings. There was ricotta cheese served with apricots, nutty sweet gouda cheese, sharp and flavorful cheddar and my personal favorite, the cheese crisps. We were in cheesy nirvana for a while.




The tour had already lasted several hours and the time had flown by. I loved hearing the history behind the narrowest house in the neighborhood and the oldest house built in 1799. A fan of the arts, I was star struck learning about Cherry Lane Theatre and the magic it held and was excited about walking in front of the building I always saw when I watched Friends. You would've thought this was it, but there was one more sweet stop.







It was at Rocco's Pasticceria to have one of their mind blowing, fresh filled cannolis. The tour wouldn't have been complete without having one of these babies. This place has been around since 1974 and you would swoon if you took a lot at all the desserts they offer. I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming.



By the time we were finished, I felt a little closer to the Greenwich Village and was looking forward to trying out another one of the food tours offered by Foods of New York tours on my next NYC trip. If you're planning to visit soon, I highly recommend treating yourself to one of these... in a New York minute. For more information, visit their website at http://www.foodsofny.com/.




Sunday, March 1, 2015

Earl's Kitchen & Bar at Dadeland Mall

I don't have to tell you that Dadeland Mall has stepped things up a notch with their dining options. Whenever you start feeling the hunger pangs between credit card swipes and retail therapy sessions, you can just walk over to their newest wing and delight your taste buds with one of the many options they now offer. I've told you about a couple of my favorites and here's another one that is rocking the mall and busting out with happy diners: Earl's Kitchen & Bar.


Cam making his Cabin Fevers 

One of the first things you'll notice when you walk towards Earl's is that it is completely packed at all hours. Whether it's happy hour, lunch or dinner, this place has become a popular spot in this part of town. It's really no wonder. It's got it all - a sleek, contemporary decor, excellent cocktails, amazing food and an energetic ambiance. I don't know if something was written in the stars, or if it was sheer coincidence, but during a media dine, I was greeted at the door with this fabulous cocktail. A subliminal message perhaps? Hmmm....


I promise I won't

I wasn't driving that night so I decided to sacrifice myself and sample several of the drinks on their cocktail menu to bring you, my loyal readers, the most thorough information possible. I know.. I know... somebody had to do it. My verdict after this ummm..research... was that Cam, their mixologist rocks and that another cocktail I was absolutely bonkers over was the Cabin Fever, Earl's fun spin on the Penicillin.

Felt like I was heading to the mountains with this Cabin Fever

After chatting a bit at the bar and learning about what makes this popular chain tick, we headed over to the tables and tried some of their creative dishes. The feast was quite memorable and as you can see below, there was something to satisfy everybody's preferences: from healthy salads, to flavorful pork buns, to decadent desserts.

\
Field Greens: Mixed Greens with Pecans and Champagne Vinaigrette

What can I say? I love soft, hot steamy buns like these.

Try to say this ten times...Vietnamese Spatchcock Style Chicken

The steak was tender, full of flavor and calling out: Eat me!

Sampler of the Chocolate Hazelnut Bar, Warm Chocolate
Sticky Toffee Pudding and Pumpkin Pie

Chocolate Hazelnut Bar: I snuck a piece of this baby into my purse for later

I've been to Earl's a couple of times after this adventure, and I can tell you I've tried something new each time and walked out happy. Oh and I even had an Earl Sandwich during the media dine...but not the eating kind.


Earl Sandwich

For more information, visit their website at https://earls.ca/locations/dadeland


Earls Kitchen & Bar on Urbanspoon