The 2012 Miami Spice Awards

by Ryan @ MRPR on July 29, 2012

Time to dust off the red carpet and hand out the second annual Miami Spice awards.  We are honoring the best and worst of Miami Spice, which is an elaborate test designed by scientists in order to assess which Miami restaurants know what they’re doing.  This year, Miami Spice offers two tiers of pricing: luxury and fine dining.  If you have any idea which of these synonyms is better, please let us know.  In the meantime, enjoy the awards:

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). 


Tuna’s Raw Bar & Grille.  Offering its 12 oz. New York Steak.

BLT Steak. Offering its 10 oz. Dry Aged CAB Delmonico.

Smith & Wollensky. Offering its 10 oz. Filet Mignon.

Amalfi on the Beach. Offering its 10 oz. Center Cut Filet Mignon with Black Peppercorn Sauce.

Angelique Euro Cafe. Offering its Steak Frites Au Poivre (10 oz. Sirloin).

Winner: Tuna’s Raw Bar & Grille. All of the steakhouses participating in Miami Spice should be ashamed that a place named after a fish took the crown.  Most embarrassing? Shula’s restaurants, which held three of the top four spots last year, doesn’t even crack the top five this year.  It’s largest offering? An 8 oz. filet mignon at Shula’s Miami Beach. This year, Shula’s is looking more like the ’07 Dolphins and less like the ’72 Dolphins.


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.


OLA/The Dining Room. OLA and The Dining Room have a few things in common.  For starters, they share chef Horacio Rivadero, who recently received popular acclaim as the winner for the “Gulf Region” of Food and Wine magazine’s People’s Best New Chef competition.  They are also only a couple of miles apart on Miami Beach.  And they also share Spice menus, including the same Sweet Potato Gnocchi with beet tomato sauce, toasted pine nuts, and goat cheese foam and the same dessert (just one option), a sponge cake with milk caramel, mango ceviche, and green apple granite.  If you’re looking to make reservations at either restaurant, I suggest phoning it in, just like they did.

Red, The Steakhouse. Red won this category in last year’s inaugural Miami Spice Awards and may well be on its way to building a dynasty. Undeterred by last year’s hazing, Red again delivers a long list of “upgrades” to its Miami Spice menu, although they don’t tell you how much these upgrades will set you back (market price, I presume).  Hey Red, there’s a word for the list of items that are not part of your Miami Spice offerings and cost extra to order, it’s called a menu.  Can someone explain to Red that participation in Miami Spice is not mandatory?

The Palm. If you are a steakhouse, you have two options and only two options: (1) offer a steak on your Miami Spice menu or (2) don’t participate in Miami Spice. You could even offer a 4 oz. petit filet and, while we will still make fun of you, at least you won’t be in violation of this golden rule.  The Palm, which bills itself as a “classic American steakhouse,” is offering shrimp, crab cake, veal, or chicken entrees.  That alone earns it a spot in this category.

Winner: Red, The Steakhouse. This year, Miami Spice created two tiers of menu pricing to provide restaurants with more flexibility. Red is undeterred, however, in its apparent efforts to get you to order off the regular menu by basically reprinting it in full on their Spice menu.  Red owns this category.


Award: Most Precious

Most Precious is awarded to the cutest, tiniest, most delicate, daintiest item being offered on a Spice menu.


Makoto. This year, Makoto is offering a 5 oz. rib eye as one of the entree selections, which is only slightly larger than their tuna air bread, which is literally made out of air and does not exist.

Morton’s The Steakhouse. Morton’s is offering a 6 oz. filet mignon, which is not completely embarrassing.  The fact that they’re offering it on the $39 menu and not the $33 menu? No comment. We suggest you bring a few extra ounces of beef with you but no word from the restaurant on whether they charge a corking fee.

Winner: Makoto. This year there weren’t a lot of “precious” menu items to choose from.  We’ll go ahead and award the prize to Makoto for its adorable 5 oz. rib eye.  Here’s hoping it isn’t bone-in.


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.

This award has been suspended until China Grill reopens.  Try as it might to give them a run for their money, Asia de Cuba’s Miami Spice menu is practically textbook as compared to China Grill.  For old time’s sake, here is the disclaimer that came with China Grill’s Spice menu last year:

“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.”


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 [Editor's Note: that was the entry fee in 2011, no word yet on whether it has gone up along with the menu prices] to participate in Spice.


Deco Blue. Offering your choice of Mahi Mahi, Churrasco, or Chicken Breast.  Slow down, Grant Achatz! I can barely keep up with all of that innovation.

The Dome Restaurant & Caviar Bar. Okay, so we know we’re not going to see caviar on the Miami Spice menu, we get that. But just salmon or chicken?  There is more selection in the economy class of an American Eagle flight between Miami and Orlando.

Bistro One LR. A Ritz Carlton restaurant offering a selection of seared salmon or grilled flank stank for an entrée.  While the Four Seasons recently revamped their restaurant with the opening of Edge Steak & Bar to rave reviews, and the Mandarin Oriental has long been home to one of the premier restaurants in Miami, Azul, the Ritz Carlton not only gives short shrift to its dining program but then does the bare minimum when it comes to participating in Miami Spice.  David Bouley’s Evolution is turning over in its grave.

Cioppino. Another Ritz Carlton restaurant, another limited offering.  This restaurant at the Ritz on Key Biscayne offers up a single appetizer, two entrée options, and a single dessert.

Winner: Deco Blue.  This self-professed “hidden gem” at the Marriott South Beach on 1st and Ocean Drive, proves that just because something is hidden doesn’t mean it’s a gem. As the Miami culinary scene continues to progress by leaps and bounds, it is getting harder and harder to find the fish/steak/chicken trio that used to be a staple on Miami Spice menus.  Just as Next Restaurant in Chicago is doing dinners geared towards a specific time and place in history (like Paris 1906), Deco Blue is dreaming big with its rendition of Miami 1998.

{ 1 comment }

Bill August 2, 2012 at 11:06 am

Really enjoy the list. Had not heard of Tuna’s Raw Bar & Grille before but seem to be getting a lot of pub this year.

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