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BLT Steak at Betsy South Beach

Easter Sunday is less than a week away! Do you know what your plans are? In addition to the restaurants included in our Easter roundupBLT Steak at The Betsy-South Beach {1440 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach; 305.673.0044} is offering a gourmet three-course brunch for just $40 per person from 11am-4pm. Executive Chef Laurent Tourondel (the “LT” of BLT) has created a delectable menu with enticing selections all to be enjoyed in the beautiful dining area of the storied beachfront hotel’s main floor.

For appetizers, choose the Sweet Pea and Avocado Soup or the Porcini-Crusted Lamb Carpaccio; for the main course, choose the Lake Meadow Farms Eggs en Cocotte or the BLT Short Rib Sliders; and for dessert, choose the Banana Kuchen or the Challah Bread Pudding. And, of course, there will be plenty of the restaurant’s famous Popovers to go around.

—Sherri Balefsky | Online Editor

One of the things we love most about Miami Spice is that it doesn’t just last for one month, it lasts for two whole months. This means that there’s still plenty of time to visit all your favorite restaurants—and some brand-new ones—and enjoy unmatched three-course Miami Spice menus at discounted prices (dinner: $39; lunch: $23).

As we try to hit up as many Spice menus as we can, here are five more of our favorites we don’t want you to miss:

1. BLT Steak & The Betsy {1440 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach; 305.673.0044}
Spice menu available for lunch Monday-Friday and dinner Sunday-Friday.

Veal & Pork Meatballs from BLT Steak

Veal & Pork Meatballs from BLT Steak

We love that Celebrity Chef Laurent Tourondel likes to keep things interesting—his blackboard menu changes daily—and that means he’s entirely revamped his Spice menu for the month of September. For appetizers, our hands-down first choice is the Veal and Pork Meatballs. Chef Tourondel served these babies up for us during a special preview dinner last March, and we’ve been dreaming about them ever since! For entrées, it’s a toss-up between the 12oz CAB Coulotte and the Grilled Black Tiger Prawns. To round out the meal, you’ll also be able to choose your own side and melt-in-your-mouth dessert. But that’s not all! Even though it’s Miami Spice, you’ll still receive the complimentary goodies that are brought to every table at dinner: Chicken Liver Mousse with artisan bread and pickled vegetables, and the famous giant Popovers dusted with Gruyère cheese.

2. Bulla Gastrobar {2500 Ponce de Leon Boulevard, Coral Gables; 305.441.0107}
Spice menu available for lunch and dinner daily.

Branzino a la Vasca from Bulla Gastrobar

Branzino a la Vasca from Bulla Gastrobar

There’s nothing more disappointing than arriving at your planned restaurant of the evening, sitting down at your table, and then having your server tell you: “We’re not offering our Miami Spice menu right now.” With many establishments placing restrictions on when their specials are actually available, it’s comforting to know that at Bulla, it’s always time for Spice. Just last week, the Spanish restaurant rolled out updated Spice menus, featuring items such as the Albóndigas de Cordero (lamb meatballs), Branzino a la Vasca, and the Torrija dessert. As an added bonus, for both lunch and dinner, you can enjoy TWO glasses of any of Bulla’s popular sangrías for just $10.

3. Atrio Restaurant & Wine Room {1395 Brickell Avenue, Brickell; 305.503.6529}
Spice menu available for lunch and dinner daily.

Pan-Roasted Monkfish from Atrio Restaurant & Wine Room

Pan-Roasted Monkfish from Atrio Restaurant & Wine Room

For Miami Spice, the Conrad Miami’s signature restaurant is serving up some of its classic dishes and seasonal favorites. For appetizers, we recommend the crisp Waldorf Salad, followed by the Pan-Roasted Monkfish, which is served with confit garlic, Mediterranean baby vegetables, and red wine reduction. And for dessert, don’t miss out on the gooey Chocolate Coulant Cake served with salted caramel ice cream. Plus, if you’re looking for a quick power lunch, Atrio’s got you covered. Simply ask for the special “Taste of Time” menu, which guarantees (if you so choose) that you’ll be in and out in 45 minutes or less. An hourglass will be placed on your table at the start of the meal; and if your meal isn’t completed in time, your lunch is on the house.

4. Scarpetta {4441 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach; 877.326.7412}
Spice menu available for dinner Sunday-Thursday.

Creamy Polenta from Scarpetta

Creamy Polenta from Scarpetta

Celebrity Chef Scott Conant’s menu at Scarpetta at the Fontainebleau is drool-worthy any time of year. But during Miami Spice, it becomes even more enticing. The restaurant recently revamped its Spice menu, giving you even more options to savor. For appetizers, we recommend the Creamy Polenta, which is served alongside a medley of truffled mushrooms (which happen to be a specialty of the restaurant this time of year). Continue the experience with the Short Rib Agnolotti Dal Pin before ending with the traditional dolce: Almond Panna Cotta. If you’re not in the mood for Italian, Fontainebleau’s three other flagship restaurants—Hakkasan, Michael Mina 74, and StripSteak—have also updated their Spice menus for the month of September.

5. The Bazaar by José Andrés {1701 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach; 305.455.2999}
Spice menu available for dinner Sunday-Thursday.

Bao con Lechón from The Bazaar by José Andrés

Bao con Lechón from The Bazaar by José Andrés

Decisions, decisions! Hands down, one of the most extensive option-filled Spice menus out there is from the SLS South Beach’s Bazaar by José Andrés. First, you’ll choose your appetizer, or “snack,” from five different options (we recommend the Bao con Lechón—pork belly on a Chinese bun). Next, you’ll select THREE options from an expansive menu that includes several “Verduras,” seven types of “Carnes y Mariscos,” and three “Fruits and Vegetables” dishes. And don’t forget: You’ll also get to choose a dessert, so be sure to save room!

By Sherri Balefsky | Miami Editor

Laurent Tourondel

In the thick of the delicious chaos at the SoBe Wine & Food Fest, DiningOut sat down for a conversation and refreshments with globetrotting, bacon-loving, French chef Laurent Tourondel at BLT Steak in the Betsy Hotel of Miami, just one of his 16 restaurants.

DiningOut: What’s your first memory of cooking—the moment that really sparked your interest—and who was with you?

Laurent Tourondel: I was with my grandmother. I think I was standing up on a chair and making chocolate mousse. I was six, maybe. My grandmother was not a professional chef, but a very talented cook. We lived in the French countryside then, and it was a wonderful way of living. The only thing we could cook was what we could get from the garden.

Did growing up in the countryside inspire you to cook seasonally and keep things local?

For sure. But in terms of buying ingredients—naturally-grown with no pesticides or anything—it’s very difficult in this country. And if you do, it becomes very expensive. Meats are also very expensive so sometimes we do specials—something that’s organic, grass-fed—but not everyone understands the cost.

Tell me about how you became chef to the admiral in the French Navy? 

Well, it was mandatory that I go to the Navy, and they told me they wanted me to jump out of a plane with a parachute. I said, “I’m not doing that.” I told them that if they made me do that, I would run away from my country [laughs], and the guy says, “Okay, so what do you want to do?” I said, “I want to be on a boat. I want to be in the Navy.”  Well, I never went on a boat, but I did become the chef to the Admiral Private Hotel, making croissants every morning, or foie gras—it was the life of the life! Amazing two years. Amazing.

What age were you when you moved to New York? 

26. But I have lived all over the world—Moscow, Paris, London …

Which was your favorite? 

I liked Moscow a lot, and I also like New York.

How many restaurants do you have currently? 

16. I just opened a new one.

Where is that? 

My new restaurant is in Kazakhstan.

Can I ask why Kazakhstan?

Actually the question is, why not Kazakhstan? There are sophisticated people there who eat well and travel a lot because there’s a lot of money in Kazakhstan. So it’s a good experience.

What kind of restaurant is it?

It’s a grill—a very sophisticated grill with a sushi bar inside.

When did you start serving sushi?

We started a couple years ago. I wanted to make the menu more approachable for women, so I added sushi and some lighter items. I needed to learn about sushi, so I took a trip to Japan and I came up with my own. For me, it’s all about textures and flavors.

I want to tell you a story about this dish. [Chef Tourondel points to a tuna tartare with avocado and micro-greens at the table]. It came about because one day I was bored at home. My restaurant, Cello, had just closed. So, I was depressed, alone in my apartment, and in the middle of writing my cookbook. I had all these ingredients left over because I was writing the cookbook, so I thought, “Let me cook something for myself.” So, I created this dish alone in my apartment. This was probably 13 or 14 years ago.

Do you have a single most memorable experience from your restaurants?

The worst drama in my career actually happened a couple of months ago during the opening of the restaurant in Kazakhstan. So, it was the opening day and the guy who owns the hotel where the restaurant is located invites 80 of his very rich friends—from the president of the country, to the minister, to the mayor. We were doing an eight or ten-course dinner, so 800 plates. Before the dinner at eight o’clock, the Black-Eyed Peas were playing, and the fireworks were going. So at seven o’ clock, I’m grilling stuff on the wood grill, and every plate is ready in the kitchen.

All my team is there—about 25 in the kitchen—and we’re waiting and suddenly, the power goes out. In my head, I’m like, it doesn’t matter, even if the power goes out I can still take my food into the banquet kitchen downstairs. And, then, one little ash of the wood grill goes up into the sprinkler system, and the whole kitchen explodes. An explosion!

Disaster! So how do you decompress after a big, high-stress dinner event like that?

I don’t stress a lot anymore. You have to take it as it comes, and fix the problem. I do lose it sometimes! But somehow you just have to stay in the moment. I take a lot of time to think about things so I’m not making decisions on the spot.

Do people realize that BLT and LT stand for you initials? 

Not always. But it’s easy to remember. I gave it this name because of my initials but also because I remember seeing so many restaurants while I was in New York with names that were difficult to pronounce or remember.

Which one is your favorite? 

This one—BLT Steak in Miami at the Betsy. Look at this! You wake up and you see the beach, and it’s a beautiful hotel.

So, what’s next for Chef Laurent?

I am currently working on a new restaurant concept for a property in New York City. Think wood-burning oven …

Tell me about family life.

I’m single. Divorced. Married to the same woman twice. I definitely tried. Twice!


Yes, I have one daughter. She is 15 years old.

Does she like to cook? 

I am discouraging her! She is very good at making pastries, though.

Are you a dessert person? 

Yeah, I love it. It’s my passion! [Chef Tourondel orders a panna cotta, crepe soufflé, and the carrot cake]

I am a pastry chef’s nightmare. To me, everything should be fresh—never frozen. That’s why when I build a kitchen, I don’t put a freezer inside.

BLT Steak

serves six


1 c liquid smoke
2 Tbsp smoked Maldon sea salt
2 Tbsp smoked black pepper
3 rib-eye steaks (preferably dry-aged), 30-40 oz each, about 2-inches thick
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened


With a fork, pierce the steak all over on both sides. Place the steak in a shallow dish and pour on the liquid smoke. Cover, refrigerate, and marinate for 48 hours, turning the steak once.

Remove the steak from the liquid. Do not pat dry. Brush on the butter. Season both sides with the smoked salt and pepper.

Preheat a barbecue grill or stovetop grill pan. Cook the steaks, 7 to 10 minutes on each side, until medium-rare. To check for doneness, insert an instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the meat. The temperature should read 130 to 135-degrees for medium-rare.

Transfer the steak to a cutting board. Allow to rest 10 to 12 minutes. Cut into 1-inch-thick slices and serve with a good mustard or steak sauce, if desired.