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Fontainebleau Wine cellar

Paying homage to its storied past is commonplace at the Fontainebleau {4441 Collins Avenue; 877.512.8002}, which has been a Miami Beach icon for over 60 years. So it makes sense that the Cellar 1954 Wine & Dinner Series (named after the year the hotel opened), which pair the world’s most prestigious wines and winemakers with the award-winning cuisine of the hotel’s restaurants, have been a huge success.

The series continues on Thursday, December 10, at 8pm at Fontainebleau’s signature steakhouse, StripSteak by Michael Mina. The special event will feature a decadent five-course menu prepared by Chef de Cuisine Derrick Roberts complemented by Champagne from Moët & Chandon. Each of the five courses will be paired with a different varietal from the label. Here’s a preview of the menu:

First Course
Beausoleil Oysters, Tuna Tartare, and Heirloom Tomato Arancini
paired with Moët & Chandon Impérial Brut and Moët & Chandon Rosé Impérial

Second Course
Yellowtail Crudo with citrus, shaved radish, and shiso
paired with Ruinart Blanc de Blancs Brut and Ruinart Brut Rosé

Third Course
Olive Oil Poached Halibut served with tomato, basil, Kalamata olives, and fingerling potato chips
paired with Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage Brut 2006 and Veuve Clicquot Vintage Brut 2004

Fourth Course
Wood-Roasted KC Stripsteak with Thumbelina carrots, parsnip purée, and bordelaise sauce
paired with Krug Vintage Brut 2000 and Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame Vintage Brut 2004

Fifth Course
Poppy Wild Berry Tart with lychee sorbet and  exotic gel
paired with Veuve Clicquot Demi-Sec

The dinner is priced at $275 per person, inclusive of tax and gratuity. Reservations are required and can be made by clicking here. For more information, call 877.326.7412.

Can’t make it on December 10? The Cellar 1954 Wine & Dinner Series continues in the new year: Saturday, January 23, at StripSteak, featuring pairings from Napa Valley winery Darioush and hosted by proprietor Darioush Khaledi; and Thursday, February 10 at Scarpetta, with wines from Odette Estate presented by winemaker Jeff Owens.

By Sherri Balefsky | Miami Editor


Achiote Barbecue Salmon

By Richard Temple | Contributor

Hotel restaurants aren’t always “destinations” in their own right. Often they’re more of a place to have a quick snack when you arrive in a strange city tired and hungry. One notable exception is Toro Toro at the Intercontinental Hotel in downtown Miami as is evidenced by their recent awards.*

33-year-old Executive Chef Eric Do hails from Orange County, California where he was raised by his grandmother who was constantly in the kitchen and served as the inspiration for his love of food and cooking. At Toro Toro, Eric combines classic training with innovative techniques as he conceptualizes new recipes for Toro Toro’s eclectic menu.

Pamplona de Pollo

Pamplona de Pollo

Rodizio Skewer

Rodizio Skewer

The dinner menu ranges from Spicy Korean Pork Ribs to Chipotle Miso Chilean Sea Bass; from Ceviche Nikkei with Ahi Tuna to Uruguayan Grass Fed Filet Mignon off the wood-burning grill. For the fish lover, Achiote Barbecue Salmon is delicious and for the dedicated carnivore 30-Day Dry-Aged Prime Rib-Eye always comes up trumps.

The weekday lunch menu is a steal at $25 and offers a lavish buffet featuring Toro Toro’s signature dishes as well as a rotating Chef’s Selection of salads, ceviche, carved meats, and desserts.

* Recent Toro Toro Awards:
2014 and 2015 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence Recipient
2014 Zagat Top 10 Hottest Hotel Restaurants Award
OpenTable 2015 Diner’s Choice Winner
Yelp 2015 Top 50 Places to Eat in Miami for Toro Toro Miami
2015 New Times Readers’ Choice Award for Best Buffet at Toro Toro Miami


Seed Food & Wine

The five-day SEED Food & Wine Festival, the nation’s only plant-based food and wine experience, officially kicked off Wednesday evening with a special “Movies and Munchies” event at the Miami Beach Botanical Gardens, which featured a screening of Frank Ferrante’s “May I Be Frank.”

The festival continued last night at the Eden Roc Miami Beach with the first-annual Veggie Burger Battle. The heated battle featured various veggie burgers from chefs across the country, all vying to win the coveted title of “Best Veggie Burger in America.” Though it was a tough decision, the prize ultimately was awarded to Chef Todd Erick Erickson of Haven South Beach, while Green Bar Kitchen won for Fan-Favorite.

Now, we’re gearing up for a full day of SEED fun tomorrow, which begins at 8am for the SEED 5K run through Wynwood, followed by a yoga class and guided meditation with instructors from local studios. And after that, it’s time to head over to the SEED Tasting Village, a large-scale outdoor event at MANA Wynwood from 11am-6pm featuring sustainable food, wine, juices, organic body care, clothing, and more—all things dedicated to plant-based living.

The festival rounds out on Sunday with a morning yoga and brunch at the Thompson Miami Beach, followed by Sprouts Kids Day at the Miami Beach Botanical Gardens, a fun-filled afternoon for the entire family, with programming dedicated to children ages 3-10.

We hope to see you there!

By Sherri Balefsky | Miami Editor

In exactly one week, who among us will be frantically slicing, dicing, basting, and frosting? Who will be making last-minute trips to the to the grocery store (for the third time!)? Who will be so caught up in preparing a feast of such epic proportions that there isn’t time to take a moment to reflect on the true meaning of Thanksgiving: giving thanks?

While home-cooked meals can certainly be fabulous, perhaps this is the year, you let someone else do the work—so you can focus on the stuff that really matters, like spending time with the people that you love. The following Miami restaurants are inviting you in to enjoy their own Thanksgiving feasts. We promise, if you go the dining out route, you (and your family) won’t be sorry.


Mandarin Oriental, Miami {500 Brickell Key Drive, Brickell; 305.913.8288} invites guests to spend Thanksgiving at either one of its signature restaurants. From now through Thanksgiving, La Mar by Gastón Acurio will be offering a trio of à la carte Peruvian menu items inspired by the flavors of Thanksgiving, including Rocoto Relleno (shrimp stew with aji panca, pecans, cranberries, and sweet potato gratin); Jumbo Wings (turkey wings finished on the anticucho grill); and Cebiche de Pato (duck with orange, red onions, aji amarillo, and turmeric). And for dessert, don’t miss out on the to-die-for Peruvian Chocolate Cheesecake with caramelized pecans served with baked apple ice cream.


Azul at Mandarin Oriental, Miami

Over at Mandarin’s other restaurant, Azul, from 5-10pm, Chef Benjamin Murray is preparing a savory family-style four-course Thanksgiving feast with highlights that include Caramelized Butternut Squash Soup, Brioche-Sausage Stuffing, Poached Cranberries, Sweet Potato Purée, Broccoli Casserole, and, of course, Turkey! Price is $95 per person exclusive of tax and gratuity.

Meanwhile, on Brickell Avenue, Morton’s The Steakhouse {1200 Brickell Avenue, Brickell; 305.440.9990} invites families to start a new Thanksgiving tradition. For more than 30 years, the steakhouse has served the finest USDA Prime aged beef, fresh seafood, and hand-picked produce—and Thanksgiving is no exception. All three Miami locations will be offering their regular menus from 1-9pm.

db Bistro Thanksgiving Turkey Sandwich - PHOTO

To-Go Thanksgiving Turkey Sandwich form db Bistro Moderne

Heading downtown, db Bistro Moderne {255 Biscayne Boulevard Way, Downtown; 305.421.8800} is offering a Thanksgiving menu with options. Daniel Boulud’s acclaimed eatery presents a three-course Thanksgiving dinner prepared by Chef Jason Pringle featuring your choice of appetizer, entrée, and dessert. But that’s not all. You won’t miss having Thanksgiving leftovers, as db Bistro will be sending each guest home with a complimentary Turkey Sandwich to-go (pictured above), to enjoy the following day. Dinner will be served from 1-9pm; price is $65 per person. A special kids’ menu will also be available for $35 per child. In addition, the lounge will be open at noon and will have a limited à la carte Thanksgiving menu.

Miami Beach

Quattro Gastronomia Italiana {1014 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach; 305.531.4833}, Miami Beach’s go-to dining destination for authentic Northern Italian cuisine, will offer a special à la carte Thanksgiving menu alongside its regular lunch and dinner menus. Special entrées include Tacchino Ripieno alla Piemontese, braised turkey breast stuffed with focaccia, Italian sausage, and pistachio served with sage mashed potatoes and homemade gravy; Risotto con Zucca, traditional risotto with pumpkin, walnuts, and Gorgonzola cheese; and Fiorentine d’Agnello, t-bone of lamb with mint demi-glace, Brussels sprouts, and truffle potato fries.

Quality Meats Miami Beach {1501 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach; 305.340.3333}, Miami Beach’s hottest new steakhouse, will be open on Thanksgiving Day from 4-10pm. The restaurant will have its regular menu in addition to a special limited-time Thanksgiving dish: Herb-Roasted Heritage Turkey with cornbread stuffing, green bean casserole, and spiced sweet potato fries accompanied by local honey butter, giblet gravy, and Quality cranberry sauce.



Bazi {1200 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach; 05.695.0101}, a brand-new concept from the owners of the acclaimed Alton Road Italian eatery, Macchialina, will feature an innovative prix-fixe Thanksgiving feast with an Asian-inspired twist. The meal kicks off with a bowl of Turkey Wonton Soup, followed by Gyoza, a popular dish consisting of shrimp and chive dumplings and sweet potato dumplings. It continues with Peking Turkey, served with wasabi mashed potatoes and scallion pancakes. Dinner will be offered from 5-10pm for $55 per person.

If you’re not the type that wants to wait ’til dinner to enjoy your Thanksgiving feast, you’re in luck. The Restaurant at The Setai {2001 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach; 305.520.6400} is presenting an elaborate and untraditional brunch (three seatings will be available: 11:30am, 1pm, and 2:30pm). Expect both Thanksgiving classics along with non-classics such as Indonesian Beef Rendang, Indian Lamb Vindaloo, Upma (Indian polenta), a selection of Indian tandoori breads, and much, much more. From 7-10pm, the Setai will resume food service with a delicious three-course menu offering choice of appetizer, entrée, and dessert for $95 per person ($48 per child).

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels Sprouts from Cleo

SBE’s celebrated Mediterranean restaurant, Cleo {1776 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach; 305.534.2536}, will host its annual “Cleopatra’s Thanksgiving Feast,” an exquisite Thanksgiving menu with a Mediterranean theme. For just $39 per person, diners will enjoy items such as Roasted Pumpkin Dip, Pistachio and Roasted Chestnut Stuffing, Blistered Brussels Sprouts, and a Pomegranate Glazed Turkey all served up by award-winning Chef Danny Elmaleh.

SBE’s other popular SoBe restaurant, The Bazaar by José Andrés {1701 Collins Avenue; Miami Beach; 305.455.2999}, will be offering its regular dinner menu along with an incredible à la carte Thanksgiving menu designed to be enjoyed family-style. Dinner will begin at 6pm and will feature items such as Squash Soup with vanilla, curry, and Taylor Bay scallops; Amish-Farmed Turkey, with a truffled breast, confit leg, and topped with traditional gravy; Green Bean Casserole with matsutake mushrooms and crispy shallots; Sweet Potatoes with marshmallow fluff and caramelized pecans; and more.

There will be a plethora of Turkey Day dining options available Thanksgiving Day at Fontainebleau Miami Beach {4441 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach; 305.535.3283}. At Scarpetta, the hotel’s acclaimed Italian eatery, guests can indulge in a three-course prix-fixe dinner for $75 per person featuring Butternut Squash Soup Fregato with toasted focaccia and roasted mushrooms; Roast Turkey Porchetta with cranberry mostarda and Brussels sprouts; and Pumpkin Tiramisù, crafted with spiced pumpkin mascarpone and served beside Marsala-soaked lady fingers, mocha espuma, and cinnamon gelato.

Fontainebleau, Chez Bon Bon Coffee, StripSteak Restaurant

StripSteak by Michael Mina at Fontainebleau Miami Beach

The hotel’s signature steakhouse, StripSteak by Michael Mina will also offer a prix-fixe dinner menu from 6-11pm for $75 per person. The highlight of the dinner will be Roasted Turkey Breast with turkey leg confit and chorizo cornbread stuffing. The meal will start off with Roasted Baby Beets with dried cranberries, hazelnuts, and goat cheese, topped with walnut vinaigrette and conclude with Pumpkin Pie topped with cinnamon whipped cream and spiced caramel sauce.

Michael Mina 74 will have its regular lunch menu at the bar with football games airing from 11:30am-6pm and Thanksgiving specials offered à la carte from 6-11pm, including a hearty Turkey Breast Roulade with confit leg sage stuffing, Brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce, and turkey gravy, and mouthwatering Pumpkin Cheesecake topped with spiced Jamaican anglaise and orange compote.

And Beyond

hyde beach kitchen + Cocktails

Pumpkin Butter Rolls from Hyde Beach Kitchen + Cocktails

Let us not forget our friends further north. SBE’s newest hot spot, Hyde Beach Kitchen + Cocktails {111 South Surf Road, Hallandale; 954.699.0901} will be serving a prix-fixe menu for $50 per person, with menu items that include a Seafood Tower; Pumpkin Butter Rolls; a Roasted Turkey Breast with apricot and pistachio stuffing; and Pecan Pumpkin Pie.

—Sherri Balefsky | Miami Editor

The holiday season is just around the corner. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be celebrating in the meantime. Here’s a look at nine of the top events taking place in Miami this November—until Thanksgiving. We’ll have an entirely new roundup for you then.

fontainebleau frank sinatra
1. StripSteak and Jack Daniel’s Celebrate Frank Sinatra
When: November 11 at 8pm
Where: StripSteak by Michael Mina {4441 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach; 305.674.4780}
What: The Fontainebleau continues its celebration of Frank Sinatra and his upcoming centennial birthday with a special five-course dinner at StripSteak hosted by Chef Michael Mina himself highlighting some of Ol’ Blue Eyes’ favorite dishes paired with specialty Jack Daniel’s cocktails. Click here for reservations.

2. Ortanique on the Mile Charity Wine Dinner
When: November 11 at 7pm
Where: Ortanique on the Mile {278 Miracle Mile Coral Gables; 305.446.7710}
What: Join Chef Cindy Hutson and Delius Shirley for Ortanique on the Mile’s second-annual Charity Wine Dinner benefiting The Learning Experience School, which supports children and young adults with developmental disabilities. The special five-course meal will begin with a Champagne reception with passed hors d’oeuvres and will feature wines by Far Niente, EnRoute, and Dolce. Space is limited; call TLC at 305.546.2315 or email [email protected] to reserve your tickets.

Flying with the stars3. Flying with the Stars with Salumeria 104 and Midtown Oyster Bar
November 11-12, 7-11pm
Where: Former Al Capone Mansion {93 Palm Avenue, Palm Island}
What: The second-annual Flying with the Stars will be two nights of six-course wine-paired menus curated by acclaimed Milan-based Italian chefs Alberto Buratti, Claudio Francesco Ceriotti, and Luigi Taglienti in collaboration with Chef Angelo Masarin of Salumeria 104 and Midtown Oyster Bar. The first evening will focus on Midtown Oyster Bar’s sea-based menu, while the second evening will focus on Salumeria 104’s land-based concept. The dinners will feature silent auctions, all in support of the Miami Children’s Health Foundation. Click here to purchase tickets.

4. A Night with the Winemakers at Wine by the Bay
November 12 at 7pm
Where: Wine By the Bay {888 Biscayne Boulevard, Suite 112, Downtown; 305.455.9791}
What: Join Wine By the Bay for a special night with iconic Italian winemakers Ettore Germano (whose family has owned and cultivated land in the Barolo region since 1856) and Silvia Piaggia (a cult winemaker from Carmignano, Tuscany). The duo will answer questions and share their wines with some of Chef Daniele Cosmo’s amazing creations. Planned pairings include Il Sasso, Carmignano 2013 paired with mini croissants with speck, Brie, arucola, and truffle sauce; and Barolo Serralunga 2011 paired with risotto with Taleggio cheese and truffle. Seating is limited. Click here to purchase tickets.

Lef Kraounakis

Lef Kraounakis

5. Thursday Happy Hour at La Mar
Every Thursday, 4-7pm
Where: La Mar by Gastón Acurio {Brickell Key Drive, Brickell; 305.913.8358}
What: Celebrated for its unparalleled Peruvian cuisine and lively bar scene, Mandarin Oriental’s bay-front Peruvian restaurant has launched a sophisticated weekly happy hour under the supervision of Eleftherios “Lef” Kraounakis, who was recently appointed head of the restaurant’s expanded nightlife program. The new happy hour offers $8 creative cocktails, including traditional and flavored Pisco Sours; $6 wine and beers; and light bites such as Cebiche Criollo, Anticucho Chicken, Empanadas, and Pan con Chicharron for just $8 each. A live DJ will also playing music from the bar’s superior sound system.

6. Fifth-Annual Water Party MIA
November 13, 6-10pm
Where: Four Seasons Miami {1435 Brickell Avenue, Brickell}
What: Join Bulla Gastrobar and soon-to-be-opened Pisco Y Nazca for a special fundraising event in honor of Global Water Brigades, an international, nonprofit organization constructing clean water systems in Nicaragua, Honduras, and Ghana. The goal of the event is to raise $12,500 to benefit the community of El Hatillo, Nicaragua, which is home to 67 families in need of a clean water supply. The minimum donation of $35 in advance will entitle each guest to endless cocktails by various beverage sponsors and savory bites from Bulla Gastrobar and Pisco y Nasca. The night will include music, a silent auction, and more. Click here to purchase tickets.

7. Weekend Lunch at Michael Mina 74
Every Saturday and Sunday, Noon-6pm
Where: Michael Mina 74 {4441 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach; 305.674.4636}
What: The Fontainebleau’s signature American restaurant is now open for lunch on the weekends with a daytime menu featuring an array of starters, selections from the fresh seafood bar, and the restaurant’s award-winning burgers, including the classic Dry-Aged Steak Burger, the Heritage Turkey Burger, and the Prime Beef Crunch Burger, which is topped with double-smoked bacon, pimento cheese, peanut butter, and potato chips.

8. Sunday Brunch at Tamarina
Every Sunday (starting November 22) 11am-6pm (buffet open until 3pm)
Where: Tamarina Restaurant {600 Brickell Avenue, Brickell; 305.770.6223}
What: Tamarina officially launches its Sunday brunch, which will feature all-you-can-eat buffet of breakfast and lunch staples accompanied by live music and all-you-can-drink specials. Expect to find made-to-order omelettes, pancakes, waffles, and crêpes; an American station featuring corned beef hash and roast beef; a fresh salad bar; a grill station featuring steak and eggs and pork ribs; an Italian station with frittatas, charcuterie, and homemade pizzas; a seafood station with oysters, shrimp, and smoked salmon; and a variety of freshly baked breakfast pastries, muffins, and scones; and much more.

Seed Food & Wine9. SEED Food & Wine Festival
When: November 18-22; Grand Tasting November 21
Where: Grand Tasting at MANA Wynwood {318 Northwest 23rd Street, Wynwood}
What: The second-annual SEED Food & Wine Festival, the nation’s only plant-based food and wine experience, will be a five-day festival featuring upscale dinners, film screenings, garden parties, and a Southern brunch, all leading up to a large-scale outdoor festival and grand tasting on Saturday, November 21, from 11am-6pm, with food, wine, juices, music, gifts, organic body care, clothing, yoga, and everything that celebrates conscious plant-based living. For more information, visit seedfoodandwine.com.

By Sherri Balefsky | Miami Editor

Sardinia Enoteca

You know Ocean Drive. You know Lincoln Road. You even know South of Fifth. But there’s one area of South Beach that locals have been trying to keep secret for over a decade: Sunset Harbour. Just minutes from the more touristy areas of SoBe, this sophisticated strip facing the bay is made up of quaint boutiques, fitness studios, a coffee shop, and a handful of elegant yet unpretentious dining establishments. One of these restaurants, in particular, stands out in our minds: Sardinia Enoteca Ristorante {1801 Purdy Avenue, Miami Beach; 305.531.2228}.

Sardinia Enoteca Ristorante

Opened in 2006, this cozy and comfortable restaurant on the corner of Purdy Avenue and 18th Street fits perfectly into the vibe of this locals-in-the-know neighborhood.

Over the years, Sardinia has earned itself a well-deserved reputation for having one of the best wine selections in Miami. In fact, wine bottles are the focal point of the restaurant’s décor, taking up every spot on the wooden wine racks along the walls, with even more onsite in the temperature-controlled cellar.

Sardinia Enoteca Ristorante

But Sardinia’s emphasis on wine certainly does not take away from its cuisine. The kitchen is helmed by Sardinian-born Chef Pietro Vardeu, a self-taught culinary mastermind who has worked in kitchens of well-known chefs and restaurateurs including Pino Luongo. His menu showcases the rustic cuisine of his native Sardinia (think: outstanding pizzas and pastas—simple yet full of flavor), in addition to some more adventurous dishes.

Representing DiningOut has its perks, and we were able to sample the restaurant’s eight-course tasting menu, which included:

Sardinia Enoteca RistoranteFregoletta
Sardinian couscous, baby clams, and saffron broth

Sardinia Enoteca RistoranteAnimelle
Veal sweetbreads, pancetta, sage, and Brussels sprouts

Sardinia Enoteca RistorantePolpettine
Veal meatballs and braised fennel

Sardinia Enoteca RistoranteOrecchiette
Boar sausages, rapini pesto, and pine nuts

Sardinia Enoteca RistoranteSpaghetti
Bottarga di muggine

Rabbit, Brussels sprouts, scallions, pancetta, and olives

IMG_2048Diver’s Scallops
Over pesto fregola and crispy greens

IMG_2083Oh, and lets not forget the desserts, which included a panna cotta and chocolate mousse.

The standouts of the evening were the meatballs (simple, yet delightful) and the rabbit, which, in our experience, is a very difficult dish to perfect.

The service, too, was outstanding. Every course was perfectly timed and gracefully presented—colorful masterpieces oozing delicate aromas enough to make even the diners next to us drool in envy. Next time, they say, they’ll have to try the tasting menu.

Sorry, locals, but your secret’s out.

By Sherri Balefsky | Online Editor