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December 22, 2009 Power Rankings

December 22, 2009

The other evening I returned to NAOE, which has been the #1 restaurant since these power rankings debuted.  And here’s the news: it’s not going anywhere (I’d move it higher if I could).  If you consider yourself an adventurous eater, especially when it comes to sushi, you need to make a reservation and get up to Sunny Isles.  If this place were in NYC and the chef was one of these celebrity chefs, the place would win James Beard awards, would have two Michelin stars, and would be heralded as one of the finer dining experiences in a town with lots of great food to boast about.  So the fact that it is in our backyard here in Miami and that it is absurdly inexpensive (the dinner itself–meaning the bento box of items selected by Chef Kevin Cory–is just $26; add in sake and a few rounds of nigiri sushi, plus tax and tip, and you couldn’t spend over $100 per person even if you tried).

Also took my first trip to the brand spanking new Gibralter (nee Baleen) and my second trip to Mandolin.  Feeling good about where Mandolin is on the power rankings.  The appetizers are great and the entrees are simple but well-executed.  It will be my go-to place when I’m in the mood for Greek/Turkish (which is not infrequent).

My trip to Gibraltar on Saturday night started off extremely strong with two killer appetizers.  A smoked salmon “loin” with a dill clabber cream and mustard.  It was listed under the “specialties” section of the menu for good reason.  The pumpkin tortellini was also solid so things were off to an excellent start.  The entrees were a bit less inspired, at least in my view.  I went with the veal cheek and grouper combo at the recommendation of the waiter.  But as they might say on Top Chef, I think the chef was trying to do too much on the plate.  The veal cheek was a small offering but extremely tender and a worthy dish in its own right but the grouper was just not as interesting, fairly run-of-the-mill and a little cold and stiff.  The location can’t be beat though and between Gibraltar and Mandolin, I think you’ve got two perfect date spots.  It was a bit dark at Gibraltar, which is disconcerting when you can’t figure out what you’re stabbing at with your fork.  But a nice addition to the scene and worth another visit.

(Last Week’s Rankings in Parentheses)

1. NAOE (1)

2. Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink (2)

3. Red Light (3)

4. Buena Vista Bistro (4)

5. Bin No. 18 (6)

6. Fratelli Lyon (5)

7. Hiro’s Yakko-San (7)

8. Michy’s (8)

9. BLT Steak (9)

10. Bourbon Steak (10)

11. GastroPod (11)

12. Azul (12)

13. Pizzavolante (13)

14. Sra. Martinez (14)

15. Oishi Thai (15)

16. Mandolin Aegean Bistro (16)

17. Joe’s Stone Crab (17)

18. Metro Bistro Cafe (18)

19. Sardinia (19)

20. OLA (20)

On the Bubble: Pacific Time; Eos; Cafe Sambal.

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