Ah, Miami Spice, my favorite time of year in Miami. The restaurants open their doors and lower their prices, making the most delicious, most elegant, and most unaffordable restaurants available for even a financially strapped graduate student like myself. This Sunday's back- to- school treat came from Chef Michael Schwartz at Michael's Genuine Food and Drink.
It was a sleepy Sunday night in the Design District. We met up with Lauren and Agu, our fellow foodies and sat down to enjoy a dynamic meal with many different flavors. To start we had the panzanella salad with heirloom tomatos and the hominy with chile and lime. The hominy makes a better bar snack than an appetizer, but was perfect for sharing. Pieces of corn are soaked in water, then spiced with chile and fried up in a pan and served with a wedge of lime. Deliciously crispy, I had everyone eating off of my plate.
The main course did not disappoint and everyone tried something different. The roasted pork shoulder won the prize for best tasting protein. Vince didn't even need a knife to slice through it. The half poulet rouge, lightly breaded and pan fried came a close second and tied with the locally caught black grouper. The wilted escarole that came with the poulet rouge was my favorite side dish, so buttery and salty I felt like I wasn't even eating a vegetable. The eggplant and chick pea curry accompanying the grouper provided a good balance to the mild flavor of the grouper. The cheesy grits filled out the pork plate.
Now on to dessert! Again I was the odd ball, ordering the lemon polenta cake instead of the decadent chocolate espresso combination. This road less traveled turned out to be a delight. The crumbly corn meal made for a dense flavorful cake that soaked up the fruity flavors of the macerated tomatoes and plums around it. A bit of creme fraiche gave the dish just enough creaminess to offset the drier polenta. The chocolate did not disappoint either. With just a bit of sea salt on a dollop of truffle filling, tasted like the very best chocolate dipped pretzel with out the pretzel dough getting in the way and the espresso ice cream provided lightness to the decadent chocolate.
Excellent service accentuated the casual and cozy ambiance. The sleek decor is homey and modern and the bar looks like the kind of place you can sidle up for a drink or three with a close friend.
Special Note: Miami Spice tastes best with friends, who let you taste from their plates.