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Friday, July 24, 2015

Black Point Ocean Grill

     Boaters, bikers and closet karaoke lovers congregate here for some frugal seafood and live music. Black Point Ocean Grill resembles many found all along Overseas Highway in the Florida Keys. It overlooks a  tiny marina within a city park in Homestead, and it appears to be packed all the time.
     The wait on this Sunday evening was 45 minutes, and service was very slow. Once we were seated, it took fifteen minutes before we placed our order, and that was because a waiter happened to notice that we had been sitting unattended for a while. He brought our Cokes out quickly, but our entrees took another twenty minutes to arrive.

     It got better after that. I ordered the swordfish filet with long grain and wild rice and a spinach souffle. John ordered the seafood Alfredo. My swordfish was not the fanciest of filets but it was generous and well seasoned, and flash fried so the breading didn't distract from the fleshy and flavorful fish. I'm willing to bet my rice came from Uncle Ben's cupboard, and what they called a souffle is actually creamed spinach, but it was warm and savory and a good partner for the fish. John's pasta dish was generous enough for him to take some home, and he found it predictable but satisfying.

      This time we assessed how pleased we were with our entrees before making a decision on dessert. Considering our track record, our new rule is if the entrees disappoint, we skip dessert no matter how whimsical the name. We liked our meals so we ordered the Coconut Bomb and it was quite pleasant- a moist vanilla cake filled with coconut cream and covered in flaky coconut frosting. Coconut is one of those flavors from which I expect zero subtlety. It has to stimulate my taste buds from the first bite. This cake fulfilled that expectation quite nicely. It wasn't a 'WOW!' but it was certainly a 'Well done!' just like the rest of the meal.
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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Mellow Mushroom

     I don't know... would hippies pay $13 for a four-slice pizza? Maybe trust fund hippies. Mellow Mushroom is themed to attract just such a subgroup. Paisley on the walls, psychedelic lights, bulbous lamps, a neon bar, and a VW van customized into a lounging area. The appropriate 60s playlist pipes in to complete the polished 60's atmosphere. Even the dessert menu contains several suspicious "brownie" selections. I'm just playing. I'm sure I'm reading too much into it.
      I'm not a pizza aficionado, but I've had a few that have earned my respect, mostly deep-dish versions, but not always. I had a thin-slice pizza in Venice that could inspire an epic poem, but in general, pizza is not my first choice for a meal. This Mellow Mushroom is in the preppy South Miami area and it's the first in my neighborhood, so the buzz was positive. It's sad when buzz turns out to be just inflated hype.
        I was impressed to see a cocktail menu and happy to sample their raspberry vodka cocktail, but it was watered down and ordinary. I kept stirring it absentmindedly hoping to generate some flavor from it, I suppose, but there was none to find.
     My companion on this 'magical mystery tour' was Jackie, and we shared a small pizza whimsically named Kosmic Karma made with a red sauce base, feta and mozzarella cheeses, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes and Roma tomatoes with a pesto swirl. I ordered a Mighty Meat to go for John, also in a red sauce base with mozzarella, pepperoni, sausage, ground beef, ham and Applewood smoked bacon. I found ours comparable to a Domino's or Little Caesar's pie, but that could be that I don't really have a discerning palate for pizza. John liked the Parmesan-dusted cornmeal crust, which apparently is their specialty.
     In honoring my new rule of 'dull eats means no sweets', we skipped dessert, but the varied menu compels me to give this 'groovy' place a second chance.

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Monday, July 6, 2015

Charcoals Steak & Grill

    Let me just start by saying that I don't really know why I'm blogging about Charcoals. Nothing about this meal was extraordinary, or new or even featured a favorite food. I could've easily skipped this post altogether as if the meal hadn't happened, but I couldn't shake the feeling that there was something about it that had to be said.
     Any establishment that has steak in its name is going to attract my husband, the carnivore, so after driving by several times, we decided to try it. We quickly realized that it was simply a Hispanic (primarily Venezuelan) barbecue restaurant with all the predictable staples- fajitas, churrasco, tostones (plantain fritters), rice with black or red beans, among others. One pleasant little gift sitting at the table was a perfect chimichurri sauce, a must-have with beef, if you ask me.
     John ordered the Baby Churrasco with sauteed onions and I the steak sandwich. Both of us found our meat a bit leathery but very well seasoned. My yucca fries were done just right, tender on the inside, crispy on the outside. John said he recognized his fries from the frozen section at our local supermarket.
     A little voice inside told me that no matter how intriguing the Pio Quinto with vanilla custard dessert sounded, it would just be as ordinary as the rest of the meal, but I wouldn't listen. Not only was it ordinary, I didn't quite understand it. At the very least I expected a piece of proper rum cake with custard on the side or draped over it. What we got was a cup of pudding with some kind of soggy crumble drowned at the bottom. I should've listened to the little voice, except I don't like when it tells me to skip dessert.
     So there you have it, the whole meal and nothing I couldn't put together with a grill in my own backyard. Even as I write the last few sentences, I struggle to find something of significance in the experience. The chimichurri, the yucca fries and the flavorful meat... there. Those are the elements that stand out for me. I suppose I'll characterize this meal the way my husband does his usually brilliant guitar improvisations- a whole lot of nothing.

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