Earls courtesy of my friends Jackie and Liz.
We were here once before, but I forgot my camera that day and I was itching to have a do-over so I could blog about it. The space is ample and open. Even the kitchen exposes itself and its cooks, offering a bustling spectacle to the patrons sitting in its proximity. We sat at the core of the place, a wide, bright expanse framed by enormous glass doors where an ocean of elegant picnic and counter tables surround a large island that is the main bar. This area is itself surrounded by a balcony on the other side of the glass providing outdoor seating under happy red umbrellas.
For appetizers, we ordered a side portion of onion rings and an order of yam fries. The onion rings didn't make any lasting impression, but oh those yam fries! They're the kind of thing you crave in a bottomless bucket, curled up on the couch with something good to watch on TV on a rainy Saturday afternoon. I don't care who you are or what your eating habits are... all bets are off!
For entrees, Jackie ordered the Dominical Fish Tacos, grilled wahoo with mango avocado salsa, and she enjoyed them, except for the hot sauce, which fortunately was served on the side. Liz and I ordered Chicken, Brie and Fig sandwiches. What could be better than the combination of cheese and fruit in ciabatta bread? Maybe some roasted apples, some spinach and garlic mayonnaise mixed in with the sweet fig jam and Brie to give it extra punches of flavor? Done. The perfect match to those heavenly Bellinis. Liz had a side of kale salad with her sandwich and I had a side of delicate Yukon potato fries with mine. They sure know how to fry things at Earls.
I like this place, I really do, and even though I wouldn't characterize the menu as spectacular, it offers enough solid selections to make any visit pleasant. Nevertheless, I found a snag that I can't let go. In all fairness, this is not the restaurant's fault but rather a lack of judgment on the server.
I counted four separate instances in which she addressed Jackie while I was in mid-sentence, which forced me to stop so my friend could answer her questions. I understand that they are trained to be accessible to the patrons, but couldn't she just stay visible without interrupting, or perhaps wait for a natural stopping point in the conversation to address someone at the table? I can see it happening once, but the same behavior four times? How could she not notice that she was constantly cutting into the conversation? I don't know, maybe it's me.
All ranting aside, I'm glad we went back, and I'm glad the experience was enjoyable, for the most part, and I wouldn't mind visiting again.
BB Free ©2014
Saturday, June 28, 2014
Friday, June 27, 2014
Happy Birthday to me! I'd been wanting to try Prima Pasta for over a year. In fact, I'd heard so much about it, I mentioned it in my women's fiction novel "Friends of the Bride", currently in progress. No amount of research or number of third party opinions can beat an actual visit. Writers have to keep it real, right? So my friends DJ and Frances with their respective husbands, Mario and Ross joined John and me for a birthday celebration/'casing the joint' adventure.
The place as a whole is small and even further divided into a bar area and a dining area. The tables are so close together, you are almost forced to have physical contact with the strangers sitting around you.
Lights are dim which exponentially enhances the spectacle that is the space's focal point, a lavish crystal chandelier like none I've ever seen. The walls are papered with pictures and wine bottles, and the ceiling sparkles with an eclectic mix of lighting fixtures, all holding court around the centerpiece. It's busy, it's crowded, it's dark, but it works.
Our entree selections were varied and a good representation
of the menu. DJ and Ross had the Black Linguine Seafood in lobster sauce, Frances and I had the Fiocchi Rapera, tiny pasta purses stuffed with Asian pear and gourmet cheeses happily playing in truffle sauce, and dotted with crispy sprinkles of prosciutto. You see, when fiocchi is on the menu, I have to look no further. I rhapsodized so much about this dish, that the very particular Frances decided to try them. I'm happy to report that she was not disappointed, but I have to say, though, they were not the best I've ever tasted. However, I found them satisfying and would become my 'usual' were I to frequent the establishment.
John ordered the Chicken Limone and found it unremarkable. Mario had the Veal Parmesan and ate it with gusto. Palates are like snowflakes.
Dessert was fun. First, I was serenaded by the staff with a cheesy rendition of "Happy Birthday, Principessa", which I didn't hate, accompanied by a block of Tiramisu. Then, we proceeded to play DJ's and my favorite game, Musical Desserts. We ordered Profiteroles, pastries usually stuffed with cream and drizzled in chocolate sauce. Prima Pasta, however, stuffs them with vanilla ice cream. I prefer the classic version.
The Creme Brulee and Tiramisu were average. I will say, however, that everyone else enjoyed all the selections as they rotated around the table. I'm just too picky about my sweets, I admit.
The restaurant punctuated our meal with complimentary shots of Sambucca, a gracious gesture indeed. It was a great evening, primarily because of the company of good friends, great conversation and endless laughter. 53 was a good year. Bring on 54!
BB Free ©2014
Friday, June 6, 2014
We intended to end the day at the Lighthouse Cafe at Bill Baggs, but since we didn't gain access, we pulled Plan B again. We decided to try Whiskey Joe's.
You can choose your view between a shimmering Biscayne Bay framed by the Miami skyline, or the sight of super-sized forklifts moving charter boats to and from gigantic shelves as they squeeze through the narrow alley between the marina and the tiki bar deck. A singer played a repertoire of standard tropical bar fare (Jimmy Buffett, Paul Simon, Zach Brown) on his acoustic guitar, but he wasn't terribly engaging.
John ordered the Angus sliders but he didn't like the grilled onions. He can't quite figure out the difference between sauteed and grilled. Based on several experiences, his conclusion is that 'grilled' means limp and greasy.
I ordered the fish and chips. It was a generous portion and the fries ('chips') were crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. The fish wasn't bad except one piece tasted a little gamy. That was disconcerting.
We accomplished our goal- we had dinner in our bathing suits looking out into the bay, although John was quite intrigued by the sight of the forklifts putting boats on shelves as if they were toys. Whiskey Joe's, however, will not be on our "keeper list".
BB Free ©2014