Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Joe’s Stone Crab


11 Washington Ave
Miami Beach, FL 33139

I owe a big thanks to Man vs Food. While it is easy to denounce this show as America at its worst, the host does dive in to the things that make the cities he visits unique from a food perspective.

When he isn’t gorging on 48oz steaks or 5lb Burritos, Adam Richman is visiting places like Joe’s Stone Crab. Joe’s first opened as a beach shack in 1913 and has grown to an icon on Miami Beach. Its success comes from one thing, being the first to figure out how to cook the Florida Stone Crab. Florida Stone Crabs have a massive crusher claw and Joe’s trap their own crab, remove the crusher claw and returns the crab to sea allowing it to re-grow. Interestingly these claws do molt so it is a harmless and sustainable practice

Word of this crab mecca spread amongst the group of Australians I was travelling with and all wanted to join me on this crab feast. This presented a small challenge since Joe’s does not take reservation's and getting 12 diners to a table meant a wait, but their front of house did a good job managing us and before we knew it we were seated and getting a lesson in Crab 101.


FLORIDA STONE CRAB

The waiters are all old hands and know how to manage a table, they know people are there for crabs and their job is to make it easy. Plates of Stone Crab claws, Alaskan Crab, fried tomatoes and hash browns were coming to us thick and fast.

ALASKAN CRAB LEG

We had the good fortune of being their 2 weeks in to the season so we were able to enjoy the Jumbo claws. These claws once shelled were the size of a magnum ice cream and were sensational. The texture is light and flaky with a unique flavour and paired well with the mayonnaise dipping sauce.

We also had Alaskan crab legs that were served hot and cooked over a char grill. These were equally as delicious. The meat pulled away from the claw easily had a really nice texture and had a fantastic flavour.

The end result was as much top quality crab as we could eat with sides, drinks and tip for $80. A bargain and another must visit for anyone with the slightest liking for crustaceans.

Joe’s Stone Crab – 15/20

Joe's Stone Crab (Seasonal) on Urbanspoon

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Shula's Steak House


Alexander Hotel
5225 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, FL 33140


I am almost embarrassed to post this one. Yes I like to eat out, yes I do overindulge at times, but this place took things to a whole new level.

When you are an avid foodie, you tend to get in to all manner of food shows. For instance Iron Chef really got me in to Japanese food and technique, which led to my pursuit of dining in their restaurants.

Similarly Gordon Ramsay’s various shows led to his New York Restaurant and Maze Melbourne.
So when a whirlwind business trip to Miami came up not long after watching Man vs Food this combination led me to Shula’s Steak House founded by the NFL Legend Don Shula.

For those that don’t know the show Man vs Food is a show devoted to Adam Richman’s pursuit of “Big Offerings” in American dining. The episode in Miami revolved around his quest to not only put away the Shula 48oz steak but to do it in less than 20 minutes.

Shula’s Miami Beach is located in the mezzanine floor of the Alexander Hotel. The dining room of Shula’s is somewhat subdued with dim lighting, lots of wood panel with B&W photos of Shula’s Superbowl VII and VIII success. Certainly not like a normal sports restaurant or a tacky big food venue.


48oz Shula Steak - Before Cooking

The bow tied waiting staff were very attentive, they ran through the menu with a show and tell of the cuts and despite their best efforts to get us to consider an entrée the order was for “The Big Boy” - The 48oz steak, Medium Rare.

After ordering my table was filled with anticipation and questions, would the steak be too much for us? Would it be terrible quality? Would the steak be too much?



48oz Shula Steak - After cooking

Fortunately the steak was very good quality, not fatty, gristly or chewy. The size was massive and the photos do not do this justice.

We did finish the steak albeit longer than Adam’s record, the biggest challenge in the end was the jaw. Not used to such prolonged bouts of chewing it did take its toll towards the end but we got through and will be inducted in to the 35,000 odd crowd Shula’s 48z club.

Towards the end the flavour of the steak began to fade or as another diner at our table summed it up “quantity has killed quality”.

We did have a side of chips and asparagus which were pleasant enough and we matched the steak up with a great Chilean cabernet sauvignon which was reasonably priced.
So now I am officially on the Shula list

Shula’s – 14/20 very good steak
Shula's Steak House on Urbanspoon

Puerto Sagua Restaurant


700 Collins Ave
Miami Beach, FL 33139


Puerto Sagua is one of those restaurants that is hard to dislike.

Good Food - yes
Good Service - yes
Terrific value - yes

I came across this restaurant a few years ago walking along Collins Ave. When you see a restaurant this big with queues and menu of mouth-watering Cuban dishes it is hard to ignore.
The restaurant itself is not going to win awards for décor, it looks like it was built in the 60’s and hasn’t had a facelift since. The menu is quite extensive and very few courses exceed $10 including sides such as rice, beans, plantains or salad.

L: Ropa Vieja
R: Black Bean Soup & Rice


On my one opportunity to dine here while in Miami I went with my favourite – Ropa Vieja which translates to “Old Clothes”. The English menu describes it more flatteringly as Cuban Stew, a stew of steak, peppers, garlic, tomato and spices cooked until the meat is pull apart soft. It is simple and delicious. This is served with their black bean soup which is simply magic stuff, the flavour is so moreish I would go just for them alone, how the make them so flavoursome amazes me.

Coffee here is excellent and there is also a good range of beers. This is a gem and will definitely go back whenever I have the good fortune to be in Miami.

Puerto Sagua – Must Visit (Highly Recommended)
Puerto Sagua on Urbanspoon

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Chili’s Too


Terminal 4
Los Angeles Airport


14 hours of flight time another 5 to go and a few hours to kill at LA airport are not a good combination.

This however was the scenario that led me to Chili’s at Terminal 3 of LAX.

Now for anyone travelling from Australia on QF93, you will have to wait to 10am before you can get off the breakfast menu. Considering it was 9:40 when I got there and it was about 2:40am back home I waited it out, however, one would have thought that an international airport would be more accommodating.

Anyway, with a chair at the bar and a beer in my hand the time moved quickly as I was talking to 3 other commuters at the bar and I could get my order in for the bacon burger.


BACON BURGER

This rather generous burger came out with fries and hit the spot perfectly, . If there is one thing the Americans do reasonably well it is the burger and this was no exception.

Service was very slow, and yes it is a chain but is certainly a better option than Burger King. I would go back again in the same predicament but would probably look elsewhere if I were out of the Terminal 3 confines.

Chili's Too – 3/5

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Syracuse


23 Bank Place

Melbourne, VIC 3000.

I’ll come right out with it. I like Syracuse, in fact I like it a lot.

I could leave the review at that and happily give it a 14/20 and move on, but that wouldn’t give a lot of insight as to why.

The main thing I like about Syracuse is that once upon a time this would have been a bit of a mamasitta, that is popular, hard to get in to and have a bit of an attitude. Today it is still a very smart restaurant with a fantastic wine list, knowledgeable staff and one can normally get a table as a walk in, but it is never empty.

The menu scales from sharing plates to main courses, perhaps a slight Greek angle in the sharing plates to more modern in the main’s.

SAGANAKI

First course of the night was Saganaki which comes as a nice salty piece of pan fried cheese that matched well with the Dolcetto being served by the glass.


L: LAMB CUTLETS

R: ASPARAGUS & BEETROOT SALAD

Following on the next dishes on tasting were the lamb cutlets and as usual they were a hit. Nicely seasoned, grilled with good char and the right shade of pink. This was paired with an asparagus & beetroot salad with quinoa, crème fresh and topped with pine nuts, this is not normally my first choice of dishes, but it was a cracker. It looked like a dish that has been to Peter Gilmore school (he of Quay fame) as it was garnished with edible flowers and had a nice lightness to it but also a number of textures and flavours coming through

As usual the decent range of wines by the glass sufficed, but I do also like the quite lengthy and reasonably priced wine list.

Needless to say, I’ll be back and would recommend it as a good after work spot to meet with friends.

Syracuse – 14/20



Syracuse on Urbanspoon