The end of the year means one thing: superlatives based on flimsy evidence. And not wanting to feel left out, MRPR is pleased to announce its pick for dish of the year (and runner-up and honorable mention). The rules are simple: the winner is selected from items consumed in 2011 that are found on a restaurant menu in Miami (no one-off dinners or special events with fancy chefs but items that rotate on and off of a menu are eligible).
Winner: Pan Roasted 1/2 “Poulet Rouge” Chicken, Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink
The first time you dine at Michael’s Genuine, you are likely to order the double yolk farm egg, the pork shoulder, a crudo, ceviche, or perhaps a tartare. The tenth time you dine at Michael’s Genuine, maybe you order the steak au poivre, definitely the homemade linguine, perhaps the beet & heirloom tomato salad. The twenty-fifth time you dine at Michael’s Genuine, you notice the one item that is unchecked on your culinary bingo sheet: the pan roasted 1/2 chicken. After four years of eating your way down the menu, you finally arrive at the 1/2 chicken. It’s make or break time, and Michael Schwartz delivers a perfectly seasoned bird with no bones where bones should be. I swear there is a chicken farm somewhere with paralyzed poultry, chilling out like Jabba the Hut. And if you’re with a large group, might I recommend two orders of the 1/2 chicken? What’s that? You’d like to order the whole roasted chicken? Amateur…
Runner-up: Any conch chowder, Red Light
Oftentimes when you visit Red Light, you’ll find a gumbo on the menu. Don’t despair. Chef Kris Wessel makes a damn impressive gumbo. But on the less frequent occasions where there is a conch chowder on the menu, you’ve hit the jackpot. There are several variations, each a little different than the last and some are based on old recipes from way back (for a stretch of time I believe he was using an old conch grinder in the kitchen). And you’re also doing your part to preserve Florida culture by enjoying a classic soup made with fresh conch.
Honorable Mention: Duck Poutine, Sustain Restaurant + Bar
The other day I was sitting at the bar at Sustain (seriously great cocktails) and a group nearby posed the question aloud: wet fries or duck poutine? To make a long story short, shortly thereafter one of them fell backwards on his bar stool and hit the ground like a ton of bricks. Obviously, the food gods were trying to tell these folks how stupid a question that truly was. To make duck poutine, you take your fries, you add your foie gras demi (an upgrade from the bone marrow gravy that give the wet fries their hydration), and then you top it off with duck confit and feta cheese. If you’d rather have wet fries over duck poutine, you deserve a head injury, or more likely you are already suffering from one.