Tag Archives: Brickell

Miami's Best Brunches

You can’t beat brunch.  A great brunch is the most sumptuous meal of the week and it’s the best excuse to have all of your favorite foods at one time.

If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, just think how important brunch must be!

Looking to plan your Sunday brunch?  Here are my favorite spots in Miami:

Acqua at Four Seasons Miami
An elegant setting to enjoy brunch favorites with a Mediterranean flair.  With extensive cheese, carving, Asian food stations and more, there’s truly something for any taste.  If you’re not in the mood for a Mimosa or Bloody Mary get a mojito — all are unlimited.  Request a table by the window for nice views of Brickell and the bay.
$70 per person.  Located in the Four Seasons Miami, 1435 Brickell Avenue, Brickell. (305) 381-3190

Area 31
Chef John Critchley’s brunch is a gourmet buffet featuring caviar, paté, cold cuts and cooked dishes like roast chicken breast and steak frites.  While sipping on unlimited Mimosas or Bellinis you can enjoy live music.
$50 per person.  Located in the EPIC Hotel, 270 Biscayne Boulevard Way, Downtown Miami.  (305) 424-5234

Whether it’s breakfast or lunch, Balans has it all.  You can’t go wrong with one of the four kinds of eggs benedict or the enormous breakfast burrito, though you may be tempted by the lobster club wrap or the chili beef salad.  The à la carte menu ranges from around $8 to $15.  To get your day started there’s a full menu of cocktails for $11 each.  Just be sure to arrive early otherwise you could have a long wait (especially at the Miami Beach location).
Both Saturday & Sunday.  Two locations: 901 South Miami Avenue, Brickell and 1022 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach.  (305) 534-9191

Biltmore Hotel
It doesn’t get any more lavish than Sunday Champagne brunch at the Biltmore Hotel.  The array of selections include carving, omelet, sushi and tapas stations, plus a wall of desserts.
$75 per person.  Located in Fontana Restaurant at the Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Avenue, Coral Gables.  (305) 913-3202

Bizcaya at the Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove
The Ritz-Carlton always gets brunch right.  Here you’ll enjoy all the traditional favorites plus made-to-order sushi and sashimi and grilled-to-order fresh fish — all in a gorgeous setting that includes a cascading waterfall.  And of course, you’ll be able to take in the view with free-flowing Champagne.
$52 per person, $25 for kids 4 to 12 years old.  Located in the Ritz Carlton Coconut Grove, 3300 Southwest 27th Avenue, Coconut Grove.  (305) 644-4680

Cioppino at the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne
A buffet so big you’ll be full just looking at it.  Go easy on the pasta, salads and grilled meats so you can save room for caviar (three different types), raw oysters and sushi.  Of course there are unlimited Bloody Marys and Champagne cocktails (Mimosas, Bellinis and a few more), and an entire room just for dessert.
$72 for adults, $36 for children under 12.  Located in the Ritz Carlton Key Biscayne, 455 Grand Bay Drive, Key Biscayne.  (305) 365-4286

The à la carte menu features a variety of frittatas and egg dishes that start at $12.  Or try the buttermilk pancakes that are topped with caramelized apples and spiced candied walnuts.  Plus you get to enjoy complimentary Mimosas or Bloody Marys with your meal.  Bonus: brunch gets you free entrance to Club 50’s Sunday Refresher party where you can groove to a live DJ and enjoy light bites until 5pm (it’s normally $30).
Located in the Viceroy Hotel, 485 Brickell Avenue, Brickell. (305) 503-0373

Rusty Pelican
Go for the great view of downtown and Brickell, stay for the enormous fresh seafood spread.  If you’re not in the mood for peel and eat shrimp, raw oysters or steamed crab, there’s always the assortment of cold salads and ham or beef at the carving station.  Enjoy the view with unlimited Champagne, Mimosas or orange juice.
$33.95 per person, $13.95 for kids 5 to 10 years old, under 5 free.  3201 Rickenbacker Causeway, Key Biscayne.  (305) 361-3818

The Setai
Craving Asian cuisine?  Check out Sunday brunch at the Setai.  In addition to eggs, pancakes and traditional brunch breads, there’s a wide assortment of Indian, Chinese, Thai and Malaysian dishes.
$67 per person, $34 for kids 5 to 12 years old.  2001 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach.  (305) 520-6400

Escape the craziness of South Beach at this cozy brunch.  The buffet is set up on the restaurant’s garden patio and features a carving station, pasta, fresh local fish, breakfast favorites like waffles and pancakes and an elaborate display of homemade desserts.
$29 per person which includes juice and coffee.  210 23rd Street, Miami Beach.  (305) 672-0778

Tre Italian Bistro
A great value and a convenient spot for people who live in downtown.  A la carte items are $12 and come with a complimentary Mimosa, Bloody Mary, sangria, orange juice or cappuccino (each additional drink is $3).
270 East Flagler Street, Downtown Miami.  (305) 373-3303

Tropical Chinese Restaurant
It’s a bit of a drive from downtown and Miami Beach but it’s the best dim sum in the area.  A word of advice: don’t get too much off of the baked and fried items cart so you can load up on delicious steamed dumplings.  Dishes range between $3 and $7 so your bill can be as small or as big as your appetite.
Both Saturday & Sunday.  7991 Southwest 40th Street, Miami.  (305) 262-7576

8 oz Burger Bar
I could eat 8 oz’s juicy burgers any time of the day (my favorite is the Niman Ranch lamb), but they’re even better with Bloody Marys that you can customize at the Bloody Mary bar.  Unlimited Bloody Marys cost $20.
1080 Alton Road, Miami Beach.  (305) 397-8246

Have a favorite brunch spot that’s not on the list?  Send an email to tips@amateurgastronomer.com.

Eos: A New Dawn for Old World Cuisine

You’d better visit Eos now because once word spreads about the great food you’ll need a reservation.

EosEos is the new Mediterranean-inspired restaurant from Chef Michael Psilakis (whose New York City restaurant Anthos is one of only two Greek restaurants in the world with a Michelin star), and restaurateur Donatella Arpaia.  It’s located on the 15th floor of the Viceroy hotel at the northern end of Brickell Avenue, a short trip over the bridge from downtown Miami.

EosThe word Eos means “new dawn” in Greek.  This idea is captured in both Psilakis’ modern take on his native cuisine and the restaurant’s bright mix of geometric shapes and eye-catching furniture.  At intimate tables for two you’ll feel like a king, sitting on the oversized grey chairs.

The menu at Eos is part Greek, part Mediterranean and part Japanese.  You order from it like you would order at a tapas bar.  From sashimi and salads to poultry and fish, everything is meant to be shared.  The friendly waitstaff are happy to guide your selections.

If you like sushi, you’ll find an array of fresh fish on the menu.  However, the portions are smaller and the fish is more expensive than most sushi restaurants, so you may want to skip it unless you’re craving raw fish.  I’d recommend trying the Beausoleil oyster ceviche or lamb tatare instead.

lobster and sea urchin risottoMy favorite dish on the menu is the lobster and sea urchin risotto.  It is just as rich and decadent as it sounds.  The creaminess of the risotto is enhanced by the melt-in-your-mouth texture and salty taste of the sea urchin.  There’s plenty of large chunks of lobster to share, even though you won’t want to.  There’s even caviar thrown in for good measure.  I could easily eat this risotto every night.

smoked octopusAnother must-taste dish is the smoked octopus.  It’s a dish I couldn’t get enough of during my trip to Greece two years ago.  Biting into Eos’ version transported me back to my favorite tiny cafe overlooking the dazzling blue-green Aegean Sea.

I also enjoyed the whole grilled Loup de Mer (seabass).  Though it looks basic in preparation, the fish is moist and flavorful.  Even if you don’t like having to work for your food, this dish is worth trying.  The seabass is cut into sections which makes it easier to get to the meat, and there are very few small bones.

A big disappointment was the crispy rabbit, which came out looking more like chicken fingers.  The meat was hidden under a thick and salty crust and was fried beyond recognition.  Even after I peeled off the crust the meat was dry and salty.  I kind of felt bad for the rabbit — the poor little guy deserves more respect than this preparation!

If you know you’ll be dining at Eos at least three days in advance and are feeling adventurous, call ahead to order from the “big party” section of the menu.  It’s modeled after traditional celebratory feasts held throughout the Mediterranean region.  The chef will prepare spring lamb, baby kid goat or suckling pig for your special dinner.

While Eos excels with food, it falls a little flat with drinks.  Many of the cocktails sound better than they taste.  The bright pink Pisco Campari Sour I ordered was too sweet to drink with the meal.  If you like rum I’d suggest ordering it neat or on the rocks instead of in the Eos Especial or the Viceroy Old Fashioned.  Though the wine list is a little limited, it does feature bottles that you won’t find at many other restaurants.

This month Eos is launching a Wine Dinner Series organized by the restaurant’s wine director, Sergio Caceres.  The first dinner on June 23rd will feature winemaker Peter Figge of Figge Cellars in Monterey County, California.  The dinner is from 7 to 9pm and costs $95 per person, including tax and gratuity.  To reserve a spot call 305-503-4400 ext 7151.

If you’re a fan of Greek sweets you’ll be disappointed by the lack of Greek desserts at Eos.  Sure there are tasty options like tiramisu or flan but you can find those at many other restaurants.  Even a basic baklava would be a welcome addition.

Still, all I need at Eos is the lobster and sea urchin risotto and the smoked octopus.  A warning to my future dining companions: order your own since I’m not sharing!

Eos at Viceroy Miami is located at 485 Brickell Avenue in Miami.

River Lounge & Club 50: Downtown Miami's Newest Hot Spots

Who wants to deal with traffic on South Beach when there are new bars and lounges opening up all the time in downtown Miami?  For a fun evening out, skip the ocean and head to the river.  Right on the Miami River you’ll find River Lounge and Club 50, the latest in the downtown/Brickell nightlife scene.

River Lounge

River LoungeRiver Lounge is located on the ground floor of the Epic Hotel on Biscayne Boulevard Way.  Thirty-foot windows and an outdoor seating area offer direct views of boats cruising along the river.  Since its packed opening party, River Lounge has become the place for young professionals to meet for a post-work drink or to party all night.

River LoungeIf you’re bored with your usual cocktail be sure to check out River Lounge’s creative drink menu.  In it you’ll find tempting tipples like the Blushing Geisha (sake, TY KU citrus liqueur, sour mix, fresh lime juice and simple syrup), Amante Picante (tequila, cucumber slices, cilantro, fresh lime juice and a dash of green Tabasco), and the Jalisco Sidecar (Hennessy VS Cognac, Patron XO Café tequila, fresh lemon juice and simple syrup).  My favorite is the Brazilian Passion, a caipirinha made with passion fruit puree.

If you’re hungry head up to the 16th floor to Area 31.  The Mediterranean-influenced menu features some of the freshest seafood in downtown.

Club 50

Directly across the water from River Lounge is the towering Viceroy Hotel.  At the top you’ll find Club 50.  Half indoor bar, half outdoor pool lounge, it’s sophisticated without being pretentious.

Club 50If you’re looking for a great view of Miami, this is the spot.  West-facing windows making Club 50 the place to be just before sunset.  While watching the lights of the city come on you can sip one of Club 50’s signature cocktails and nibble on light fare.

The pool area is open only to Viceroy guests and residents of the adjoining Icon Brickell during the day, but at night it’s transformed into a club with a DJ spinning music.  Windows on all sides let you enjoy being outdoors without worrying about the wind.

Club 50Club 50 wins the prize for having the bathrooms with the best views.  Large windows let you peer down towards Brickell Key and the water.  Even if you don’t need to visit the restroom, it’s worth checking out before you leave.

When you’re ready for dinner, head to Eos on the 15th floor.  Award-winning Chef Michael Psilakis modernizes dishes from his native Greece with a menu that includes Mediterranean and Asian influences.  The lobster and sea urchin risotto is out of this world.

With River Lounge and Club 50 within a short walk of each other, you’ll just have to decide on which side of the river to begin your night out.

River Lounge is located inside the Epic Hotel at 270 Biscayne Boulevard Way.
Club 50 is located inside the Viceroy Hotel at 485 Brickell Avenue.

A Wine for Everyone at Cavas Tasting Room

A wine bar for indecisive oenophiles has arrived in South Florida.

cavas tasting roomCavas Tasting Room and Cafe is the adult version of a candy store.  A huge selection of wines is right at your fingertips — with a press of a button you can sip your favorite grape or try something new.

The pressure of selecting just one wine from a long list is gone.  At Cavas you can help yourself to a taste of more than 60 wines, many not normally found by the glass.

Cavas is the latest wine bar to use the Enomatic wine dispensing system.  I first fell in love with Enomatic at Clo Wine Bar in New York City.  Using an ATM-style card that keeps track of your tab, you select a wine and the machine dispenses the exact amount.  At Cavas you pick the amount of wine to try, so you don’t have to commit to an entire glass (great for when the wine you picked isn’t to your liking).  You can select a 1 oz tasting portion, a 3 oz half glass, or a 5 oz full glass.

cavasMost 1 oz pours range between $1 and $3, which enables you to try a wide range of wines and styles without spending a lot.  Brunellos and big name Napa wineries are now within your budget.  You’ll also enjoy experimenting with unfamiliar grapes or blends.  I discovered a delicious Malbec and Corvina blend from Argentina and a light and fruity red from Austria.  A full glass of wine ranges from around $6 to $40.

All the wines available to taste are available to purchase.  The prices are slightly higher than at a liquor store, but not by much.  If you drink the bottle at Cavas you’ll pay a corkage fee ($10 for bottles under $30, $20 for more expensive bottles).  If you’re looking for something different than a wine you tried by the glass, Cavas offers more than 200 other wines by the bottle.

cavasMost wine is meant to be served with food.  Cavas has a menu of light bites to pair with the wine.  You can select your own assortment of sliced meats and cheeses or have a sandwich served on a fresh baguette.  If you prefer something sweet, Cavas has several tempting desserts that you can order individually or as a trio.

At Cavas you prepay for your wine card, starting with a minimum of $20.  When you’re down to your last couple of dollars the machine will pour an amount that’s equivalent to your remaining balance.  If you stick to your prepaid budget (plus a little extra for food and a tip for the friendly waitstaff), it’s sure to be one of your least expensive outings in Miami.

Cavas has locations in Miami and Broward Counties.  I visited the Miami Beach location on charming Española Way.  I like it because it’s off the touristy beaten path of Lincoln Road.  When you go there be sure to chat with owner Luis Duarte, who is always ready with a wine recommendation or to talk about his trips to France and Spain’s wine regions (look for his photographs on the wall).

Cavas on South Beach is located at 437 Española Way.  There are free wine tastings every Thursday from 7pm to 9pm, and from 5pm to 7pm on Fridays you get $25 added with the purchase of a $25 card.

For more information on Cavas Tasting Room and Cafe visit mycavas.com.

Oysters at the Oceanaire Seafood Room

My knowledge about oysters is pretty much this: I know that I really like them. I prefer East Coast oysters over the smaller West Coast ones, and I really liked the oysters I had in Paris that were from the west coast of France.

Last night my husband and I went to the Oceanaire Seafood Room in Mary Brickell Village and found it was a great place to learn about oysters. We ordered four different types: Peacock Point from New Brunswick, Ninigret and Potter Cove from Rhode Island, and Blue Point from Connecticut.

I often order Blue Point oysters because they’re almost always a guaranteed delicious bite. They’re large and meaty with a great fresh taste and hardly any saltiness. I think it would be a good first oyster for someone who has never had raw oysters. The ones at Oceanaire were a little bit smaller than other Blue Points I’ve had, but just as tasty. The Peacock Point were the smallest of the four oysters. They were the saltiest too, but the salt wasn’t too overwhelming. The Ninigret stood out in the group with their long and more narrow shells. The oysters too were long and thin, not much to bite into. I really liked the Potter Cove. They had a deeper shell than the other three. The oyster was compact and meaty, great to bite into. It had a slightly creamy taste which nicely complimented the slippery texture. All the oysters were cleaned and shucked well; there was no sand or shell fragments in them.

The oyster experience was enhanced thanks to our really knowledgeable waiter. He explained oysters naturally grow long, but depending on where they are and how much space they have, they expand to fit that shape. Just like the terroir affects the flavor of wine, the location where oysters are cultivated affects their taste. He also introduced us to Oceanaire’s executive chef who explained there are really only three types of oysters in the United States: Virginica and Olympia on the East Coast; the Pacific oyster on the West Coast (which was brought over from Japan). Eastern oysters are grown in the Pacific; Pacific oysters are grown in the Atlantic. To me it sounds like I’m going to have to try many more oysters!

We barely scratched the surface of Oceanaire’s oyster selection – we didn’t try the eight other oyster varieties, mostly from the West Coast. With their large selection changing all the time, I’ll definitely be going back soon to try more. And next time, I’ll have to order dessert, they have the best flan! But that’s a topic for another post.

The Oceanaire Seafood Room is located at 900 South Miami Avenue in Miami, with other locations in Florida and around the U.S.