Gourmand

Dashi

Here, your meal is not only a sublime gustatory experience, but a thing of beauty as well.

Amid the idyllic backdrop of the Miami river, dotted with boats and a sight to behold even in the early evening rain, Dashi at River Yacht Club is a bastion of cool. Chef Shuji Hiyakawa’s sleek and contemporary eatery takes immense pride in preparing artfully presented dishes that meld unexpected tastes and textures that literally can (and did, in my case) induce gasps from his patrons. Hiyakawa, who trained under Masaharu Morimoto and spent time as the executive sushi chef at Kuro in the Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood, offers a small but impressive menu of well-balanced, visually stunning plates that range from masterfully turned-out tempura, arguably not what you’re used to from your neighborhood sushi joint (and that’s a good thing), to a spicy seafood udon soup with plump shrimp swimming in a light but tasty broth atop a tangle of udon noodles tinged red with heat, to a sumptuous duck breast with five spice, fried leek and su-miso that could easily convert the most adamant “I don’t eat duck” chanters among you. In between, there are just so many other dishes I’d say you can’t miss that it’s fairly certain you’ll have to schedule a couple of return visits, among them the beef tataki with soy onion, myoga and fried shallots; the house poke salad, as simple as that sounds, which presents like an arrangement of jewels but tastes far more expensive; and of course an assortment of sushi and sashimi, the list of which is varied enough that anyone, whether it be a lover of more exotic varieties such as sea urchin or freshwater eel or those who stick to the “standards,” like spicy salmon or yellowtail, will find something to love.

At River Yacht Club, 401 SW 3rd Ave., Miami, 786.870.5304; dashirestaurant.com

Council Oak Steaks & Seafood

There’s no gamble involved when you do dinner at this longtime favorite inside the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

Whether you enjoy gambling or not has nothing to do with whether you should make your way to the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino this weekend—or any night. It’s all about whether or not you want a sublime experience in a steakhouse that is at once upscale and comfortable, with consistently excellent service and food—a feat in itself. Council Oak Steaks & Seafood, just steps from the slots inside the casino, offers entrée into a world far from the bells and whistles and hoots and hollers (and moans and groans) of the players hedging their bets. With a wine list that has consistently won Wine Spectator Magazine’s Award of Excellence year after year from 2009-2015, and a knowledgeable, helpful sommelier whose passion for his position is contagious, it’s easy to get off to a positive start once seated. Fortunately, that experience only gets better as you tuck into appetizers such as mouthwatering Oysters Rockefeller with spinach, Parmesan and hollandaise, and Council Oak Bacon with heirloom tomatoes and aged balsamic vinegar. Raw bar offerings—tuna tartar with avocado, lemon, cucumber-radish salad and grilled ciabatta being a personal favorite—offer a lighter beginning, as do a selection of fresh salads. Then it’s on to the nitty-gritty: Beef is the specialty here, from USDA Prime steaks and chops—perfectly prepared lamb and juicy veal—to Wagyu beef (including a Japanese Kumamote Prefecture 10 oz. for $115), but Chilean sea bass with rock tomato scampi and even a crispy-skinned Brick Chicken with sunchoke purée, grilled artichoke and smoked onion jus are all standouts, too. Deviate from the usual steakhouse sides and order the grilled corn, lime and queso blanco, or the wild mushrooms—or both. Dinner at Council Oak is the one thing inside this casino that we can say with complete certainty is a sure winner.

In the Seminole Hard Rock Hollywood, 1 Seminole Way, Hollywood, 954.327.7501; seminolehardrockhollywood.com

Tap 42

Aventura gets an outpost of one of south florida’s favorite eat-and-drinkeries.

On the heels of another successful opening in Midtown Miami, Tap 42’s fifth location will be part of the 315,000-square-foot Aventura Mall expansion set to open in late 2017. Tap 42’s newest location will be their largest location yet, with 6,300 square feet of indoor dining and bar space and a 1,200-square-foot patio overlooking the open-air piazza. The Aventura location will keep the classic Tap 42 interior trademarks, such as distressed wood, rustic lighting features, and a large bar installment, while also incorporating live plant features that will complement the lushly landscaped, contemporary art-clad piazza. “We have always thought that Aventura was the perfect market for Tap 42, and the new expansion project at the Aventura Mall presented us with an excellent opportunity to get the special site that we have been waiting for,” explains VP of Development, Alex Rudolph. “We recognized a need in Aventura for a cool, affordable dining and drinking destination, and feel the Tap 42 brand fills a major gap for the entire North Miami/Aventura area. Having the opportunity to be part of the state-of-the-art expansion at one of the world’s most successful and iconic malls is a dream come true, and we are extremely excited.” The Tap 42 expansion will continue in 2017 and early 2018 as the team looks to grow to regionally throughout Florida.

Locations in Coral Gables, Midtown Miami, Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale and soon Aventura; visit tap42.com.

Monkitail

The Diplomat Beach Resort hits another culinary homerun with this modern spot specializing in Japanese izakaya and sushi.

Yes, there are lots of Japanese restaurants in South Florida, but not many deliver the dining experience that the (relatively) new Monkitail does. Celebrity chef Michael Schulson’s seventh restaurant, tucked back in the corner of the Diplomat Beach Resort, is a pleasure for the senses: it’s beautifully designed and lit; the lightly smoky fragrance of the grill wafts by, tickling the nose and whetting the appetite; the well-crafted cocktails are creative and tasty (a fave is the Dragon, made with tequila, fresh watermelon and Shiso, but bourbon lovers shouldn’t miss The Monkitail, an elixir of bourbon, rye, vermouth, and barrel stave smoke that’s prepared at the table), and of course, there’s the food. Go with friends—the more of you there are, the more dishes you can enjoy—and start with the Robatayaki offerings, which are extensive and range from vegetables to seafood, chicken, beef, pork and game such as quail, venison and even turkey neck. Smoky and juicy, it’s the perfect foil, and goes well with (or before or after) any of the dozens of sashimi and specialty rolls, which arrive to your table ocean-fresh and beautifully arranged. Our recommendation: the Chef’s Tasting Menu, which at $65 per person for 10 selections—chosen from the Cold, Small, Crispy, Meat, Fish and Sides sections—is quite possibly one of the best bargains in town, considering those sections include simple but delicious, bright-tasting dishes such as Octopus Sunomono with Mozuku seaweed and cucumber and Kampachi with Serrano, shallots and ginger relish; savory bites like the powerfully flavored Shishito Peppers served with aioli, chili and lemon and the Duck Scrapple Bao Bun, a symphony of textures with maple teriyaki, cucumber and chili; a rich, scrumptious Beef Short Rib (for 2) and a light-as-air Broiled Seabass with truffle soy and pea shoots, and even sides that excite, like Bacon Yakisoba and Black Cod Fried Rice with miso caramel. The wine and sake lists—offerings by the glass and by the bottle—go on for days, with plenty of impressive options, just one more reason, besides the food and décor, to linger here.

In the Diplomat Beach Resort, 3555 S Ocean Drive, Hollywood, 954.602.8755; monkitail.com

 

Tatel Miami

If you’ve never been to Spain, make your way here for the next-best experience to the real thing.

TATEL Miami is the third location—after Madrid and Ibiza—for this upscale restaurant that brings traditional Spanish cuisine and culture to the heart of Miami Beach’s Art Deco District. Executive Chef Nicolas Mazier, former Executive Chef of NOBU Miami, leads TATEL Miami’s culinary team with a menu that marries traditional Spanish cuisine and modern variations on the classics. Enrique Iglesias, Rafael Nadal and Pau Gasol are behind the 200-seat restaurant, which features an elegant interior design with a Roaring ‘20s theme throughout the main dining room, semi-private dining rooms, a private dining room and an enormous double-height cylindrical lounge area with a circular island bar. But it’s more than just a pretty face, so to speak; it’s a sensory experience that brings together high-quality Spanish gastronomy, the culture of the country and the world of entertainment with a mixed-age atmosphere, a lively bar lounge, and a central stage that holds live music shows every night. There’s a long—very long—list of starters, from simple but savory offerings like anchovies from Santoña to crispy artichokes with Ibérico ham to tortilla trufada, or Spanish omelette with truffle. Entrées range from the starchy sort—barley risotto with shaved truffle; “blind” rice with Maine lobster for two—to those categorized under “From the Sea” and “From the Land.” Those with lighter appetites might enjoy a simple grilled branzino with TATEL extra-virgin olive oil or tuna tartar, while the carnivorous diner might choose to go for the dry-aged rib-eye, veal Milanese with egg and truffle, or duck Wellington. Whatever you go for, go slow and save room for after-dinner treats such as Pastel TATEL, a warm toffee pudding with fresh milk ice cream, flan TATEL made with brie, or the “Brutal” chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream.

In the Ritz-Carlton, 1669 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, 305.604.0523; ritzcarlton.com.

 

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