In a nod and something of an apology to the marvellous Lorraine from NotQuiteNigella, I offer a restaurant review.
It was my third trip to Miami, and I figured that I needed to do something about my drastic indifference to this destination. The solution: food! During my stay here, I’ve become addicted to watching the Food Network on cable and in particular a show called “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” where the chefs featured on the network tell of the best food they’ve ever had.
On one episode, despite having the entire continental United States to choose from, three different hosts selected dishes from a place called Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink in Miami. Naturally, I noted this one down for my next trip and, sure enough, last week I made it there.
I made my booking on OpenTable, which is a rather handy online booking system that covers most restaurants in large cities like New York and Miami, and which I’ve often used to make bookings in New York so as not to miss out on my favourite places ;-). After finishing up my meetings, and spending my hard-earned money on lots of technology (more about that later), I jumped in a cab to Michael’s Genuine.
It’s a stylish but homey place, and the staff are bursting with friendliness. I made the mistake of having a late lunch, so wasn’t as hungry as I should have been for this gorgeous treat of a place. The waiter explained that the owner was a James Beard Award-winner (quite the thing for chefs in the US), and the owner’s food philosophy, which is about locally-sourced and organic, fresh ingredients, served simply and sustainably. In fact, the place is so sustainable that the owner (apparently after having his first child and getting very concerned about the environment) stopped serving bottled water and now offers only complimentary still or sparkling water on tap!
The menu is divided into dishes of varying size, ranging from “snacks” to “Small”, “Medium”, “Large” and “Extra Large”. I was determined to leave room for dessert, so ordered the thick-cut chips and pan fried onion dip from the snack section, along with the Crispy Sweet and Spicy Pork Belly from the Medium dishes.
The dip and chips arrived first, and the chips were perfectly crispy. The dip was full of caramelised onion, and reminded me of a much more spectacular version of french onion dip. Naturally, I had to finish it all up.
Soon after, the Pork Belly came and it presented beautifully: the caramel-coloured pork belly sat atop an asian salad of kimchi (a Korean pickly-type thing, apparently the ingredient of the moment), peanuts and pea shoots. The dressing was perfectly balanced, and the pork was melt-in-the-mouth tender, with the fat perfectly rendered making the dish juicy but not oily. I swooned as I ate this brilliant dish, and the waiter served up a lemongrass and ginger soda that matched it perfectly (I even got to gnaw on the crystallised ginger decorating the glass).
The dessert menu arrived, and this was a tough choice: did I go with the Popcorn and Peanuts dessert that had been raved about on the Food Network, or branch out on my own? In such difficult situations, I always find it’s best to consult my waiter and he recommended the intriguingly-named Orange Creamsicle Pot de Creme (which I vaguely remembered afterwards might have been mentioned on the show anyhow).
Well, let me tell you: the Orange Creamsicle was nothing short of spectacular. The Pot de Creme comes accompanied by two light, freshly-cooked donuts (including little “holes”) and a blackberry tarragon jam, with crystallised orange peel on top. You really don’t quite know where to start, so I tried a bit of each on its own. Mmmmm. Then I mixed some of the jam with the pot de creme. Mmmm again. However, I totally recommend just slathering a bit of everything onto the donuts and doing your best not to embarass yourself (and, most importantly, missing out on the dessert) by letting it slide down your chest.
This might have been one of, if not the, best dessert I’ve ever had: I felt emotional at the thought of finishing it (I think I might have even pleaded with the plate “Don’t end!”). But, horribly, end it did.
I held back the tears and asked for the bill.
If the rest of the meal had been a pleasant surprise, the bill topped it off: $35 without the tip. Yes, folks, that’s under AUD$50 for one of the most spectacular meals I’ve ever had. Naturally, as with all good chefs, Michael’s Genuine is putting out its very own cookbook, and I’ve already placed my advance order on Amazon ;-).