A new feature for the blog. I’ll review restaurant reviews so that you don’t have to read them all. I’ll even award them a ranking between one and four stars based upon how helpful/interesting/informative/well-written they are.
(Ranking system is extremely stingy and it follows NYT rules: Zero stars = poor; One star = good; Two stars = very good; Three stars = excellent ; Four stars = extraordinary)
The publication: The Miami Herald (December 24, 2009)
The place: Mai Tardi
The reviewer: Victoria Pesce Elliott (“VPE”)
The gist of the review is that South Beach is some sort of panacea, a cure-all to the blasé-ness that is the Design District. In other words, what the Design District desperately needs is a SoBe makeover — you know, because SoBe restaurants are doing so well (Table 8, David Bouley’s Evolution, Social Miami @ The Sagamore, any restaurant ever at the Astor). Nevermind the fact that the same exact lead could have been written when Domo Japones opened up in December 2007 (that lasted less than a year, until October 2008). So with that highly dubious premise leading things off, VPE then describes the beautiful outdoor dining area, the best quality of Brosia, the space’s former inhabitant. She’s spot on with her assessment that this is one of the great outdoor dining areas in Miami (although I have no clue what she means when she says that the outdoor seating at Brosia was “oddly dysfunctional”).
VPE then declares that Mai Tardi executes the “near perfect” pizza. Of course, there are entire Chowhound threads devoted to pizza in Miami so I’ll leave the fact-checking on this claim to the experts. She then tears through what appears to be a good portion of the menu but it is the skirt steak that earns the best (only?) turn of phrase: “A recession-busting curlicue of skirt steak as long as my forearm is tender and tight…” (Note: Is it just me or does it sound as if VPE is saying that her forearm is tender and tight? My mind is racing…).
The review concludes with a brief word about the service, some miscues, and how the restaurant handled things. Finally, a play on the name wraps things up: “At Mai Tardi, customers are not only never late — they’re never wrong.”
Overall, the review reads like a menu or, worse yet, a grocery list of ingredients, dish-by-dish. Like many of the restaurants VPE visits and sometimes pans, this particular review seems uninspired.