Miami Spice is about to begin and with that we get to peak inside of restaurateurs’ heads to answer age old questions like: Do you have too much flank steak in your freezer? Do you respect your customers’ intelligence? Is that place still open?
Last year, we ran an open letter to the restaurants participating in Miami Spice and engaged in some back-and-forth with Frodnesor over at Food For Thought on whether a Spice participant should offer a menu that might cause them to break even or even lose a buck in the interest of making a lasting impression. This year, we will celebrate Miami Spice by awarding fictitious awards to the participating restaurants. This is like the Burgies except no prizes, no award ceremony, and less ground meat.
Award: Biggest Steak
An homage to the age old SNL parody of the Espys, where they honor the biggest stadium, the award for Biggest Steak goes to the Spice participant offering the biggest steak. Only those restaurants which identify the size of their steak offering can qualify (sorry vague churrasco offerings, maybe next year).
Shula’s Steakhouse – Miami Beach. Offering its 16 oz. Shula Cut Prime Rib of Beef.
Shula’s Steakhouse – Miami Beach. Offering its 12 oz. Shula Cut New York Sirloin.
Graziano’s (Multiple Locations). Offering its 12 oz Hand Cut Angus T-bone Tagliata Steak.
Shula’s 347 Grill. Offering its 12 oz Flat Iron with Chimichurri.
Winner: Shula’s Steakhouse – Miami Beach. The accounting firm of PriceWaterhouseCoopers has confirmed that 16 oz. is larger than 12 oz.
Award: Most Passive-Aggressive
This award goes to the restaurant that is most begrudgingly participating in Miami Spice. These are the ones where you can expect to have to ask for the Spice menu, receive dirty looks when you order off it, and get your tires slashed on the way out.
Red, The Steakhouse. You are not getting out of here for $35. Red is offering six different “upgrades” — for a price. Want an 8 oz. filet instead of the 5 oz. offering? That’ll cost you another $15. Please note that “red” is also the color of your bank account’s balance after you try to eat off the Spice menu here.
Mr. Chow. Welcome to Mr. Chow, where the fine print takes up most of the Spice menu. “Maximum of 4 dishes from each course per table . . . 2 guests minimum – Limited to items listed above – NO SUNSTITUTIONS [sic] – Drinks, Tax, plus 18% Service Charge are Additional – 20% Service Charge for Parties of 6 or more.”
Tony Chan’s Water Club. Do you love Miami Spice but hate having to choose between so many different variations of appetizer, entree, and dessert? Tony Chan’s is here to help: by offering Menu A or Menu B. Each menu is for two people, so I hope you bring a date who has similar tastes or is a total pushover.
Chophouse Miami. This steakhouse can only bring itself to offer a “Steak Pasta” in lieu of an actual steak. Any professional meateater knows this is a thinly-veiled attempt to offer as little steak as possible. (Bourbon Steak, you’re on notice. The only steak on your menu requires a $10 supplement. Spice foul.) Oh and for dessert, you can order a “trilogy of berries.” You know where else they offer that? Publix.
Eden. One entree per two people. One dessert per two people. Are you calling me fat?
Winner: Red, The Steakhouse. The most passive-aggressive way to participate in Miami Spice is through the overuse of surcharges. Nothing says, “I don’t want to be doing this” more than six different additional charges. It has all of the charm of a used car salesman trying to get you to Armor-all the interior.
Award: Most Precious
Most Precious is awarded to the cutest, tiniest, most delicate, daintiest item being offered on a Spice menu.
Shula’s Steak House – The Original. Ironically, their sister restaurant, Shula’s – Miami Beach is the winner of Biggest Steak, so the fact that “The Original” location is offering a 5 oz. filet — admittedly as part of a surf-and-turf — is all the more precious.
Vita Restaurant & Lounge. Vita is offering a 5 oz. Baby Rack of Lamb, which is precious both because it has the word “baby” in it and because it is about as much meat as you can get off a baby lamb. Awwww.
Red, The Steakhouse. Already the winner of Most Passive Aggressive, Red aims to be a multiple award-winner by offering a 5 oz. petite filet. Petite is a fancy word for “baby.”
La Riviera. What does it take to one-up the 5 oz. offerings mentioned above? One fewer ounce! And La Riviera brings it with a “petit surf and turf” that includes a 4 oz. filet, 2 tiger shrimps, fingerling potatoes, carrots (we can only assume of the baby variety), and asparagus (pencil?). Or as we like to call this dish, Honey I Shrunk the Surf and Turf.
Winner: La Riviera. Nothing is more precious than a tiny surf and turf. You can serve it in your dollhouse.
Award: Most Confusing
The award for Most Confusing is bestowed upon the most complicated Spice menu. If you can figure out these menus, you should eat for free.
Mercadito. The selections on Mercadito’s Spice menu are “per table” — as in, 2 types of guacamole per table, 2 types of ceviche per table, 3 types of tacos per table, 1 side dish per table, and 1 dessert per table. This seems like a great offering if you bring four tables to dinner, but not sure what happens when people show up.
The Forge. The Spice menu offered by The Forge says “August 1 until August 4, 2011″ at the top. Someone ought to explain if that is the lifespan of this particular menu offering or if The Forge is participating in a mild version of Spice that only lasts for three days.
Atrio. For a $10 supplement, they say they’ll turn skirt steak into filet mignon. Even Jesus couldn’t do that.
China Grill. China Grill’s Spice menus are notoriously difficult to decipher because they are a “family style” restaurant (which is based on an outdated notion of the family, but I don’t think they’re trying to make a political statement here).
Winner: China Grill. We’ll let the menu speak for itself: “2 guests choose 2 appetizers, 1 entrée & 1 side; 3 guests choose 2 appetizers, 2 entrees & 2 sides; 4 guests choose 3 appetizers, 3 entrees & 2 sides; 5 guests choose 4 appetizers, 3 entrees & 2 sides; 6 guests choose 4 appetizers, 1 double portion & 2 single portion entrees & 3 sides; 7 guests choose 4 appetizers, 2 double portion & 1 single portion entrees & 3 sides; 8 guests choose 2 double portion & 1 single portion appetizers, 3 double portion entrees & 3 sides; 9 guests choose 3 double portion appetizers, 3 double portion entrees & 3 sides; 10 guests choose 3 double portion & 1 single portion appetizers, 3 double portion & 1 single portion entrees & 4 sides” and a partridge in a pear tree.
Award: Most Boring
We will spend as much time on this topic as these restaurants spent on planning their Spice menus. Just keep in mind that they each paid $995 to participate in Spice.
LouLou “Le Petit Bistro.” Le petit Spice menu.
Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar. No appetizer options, no dessert options. But you know who does have options? Diners choosing which Spice restaurant to go to.
Bizcaya. Grilled chicken breast or braised short ribs. Where did I hear that question before? Oh yeah, in coach class on American Airlines. (Although, to be fair, La Marea is literally offering “Airline Chicken” on their menu.)
Winner: Not you if you eat at these places.