Art Basel Miami is a scintillating international art show featuring contemporary art. Multiple venues in Miami and Miami Beach are transformed into makeshift art galleries, with eye-popping art and a fascinating collection of patrons. My husband and I attend this year, joined by cousins from Michigan. My mission- to pair eight hour days spent perusing modern art with restaurants offering equally compelling food.
My visits to cities around the country are always preceded by hours of restaurant research. Miami has unique challenges. There are very high-end restaurants that entice me, but I’m not interested in blow-out dining expeditions. There is a lack of consensus in the various recommendations I receive, and mixed reviews on well-known restaurants. Fortunately, in the end I’m satisfied with the results of my investigative endeavors into Miami dining.
Blackbrick is in Miami’s midtown. Named by “Bon Appetit” as one of America’s top new restaurants in 2014, the Chinese food is imaginative and the vibe pure fun. My favorite dish here is crispy cumin lamb chops, sprinkled with an array of peppers. They are enjoyed- or to be precise- devoured, with cilantro aioli. Fried rice earns an entire category on the menu, so we benefit from both Florida pink shrimp fried rice and sichuan vegetable and hot oil fried rice. We over-order, giving me an opportunity to discover that fried rice is excellent breakfast food. Vegetarians can enjoy a fulfilling meal at Blackbrick with options like spicy dry wok cauliflower, kung pao tofu, pan fried vegetable bao bun, and so much more.
Mignonette in Miami’s Edgewater neighborhood, is notable for its amply-stocked oyster bar. We’re here to enjoy other treasures from the sea, along with an admirable potpourri of vegetable dishes. I take delight in monkfish carta fata with a combination of mussels, clams, shrimp, and andouille sausage. The dish is gift-wrapped in a pouch that’s punctured to deliver a stream of steam and tender chunks of seafood. Roasted cauliflower with smoked trout roe mayo stands out among the vegetables. My interest is piqued by a tweet with a photo of sweet potato cheesecake with homemade graham cracker crust topped with roasted marshmallows. Twitter doesn’t lie- this dessert is as fabulous as it sounds.
Pubbelly Sushi is in Miami Beach, part of a restaurant group that rises to popularity with the Asian-inspired gastropub Pubbelly. A reunion with local cousins at an Italian restaurant inevitably includes mentions of area restaurants that aren’t to be missed. Pubbelly Sushi tops the list, and a suggestion is made to follow up our dinner with an after-party of sushi. I hesitate for a split second, but can’t pass up the chance to check out this hot spot. I may love food, but it’s not often that I indulge in two dinners in one night. No regrets. Tuna pizza with truffle is fresh and crispy, bearing an uncanny resemblance to bagels and lox. An array of sushi rolls fulfill my desire for innovative cuisine. Miso bread pudding is the clincher that concludes the evening on an exceedingly full but very high note.
Michael Mina 74 is an American bistro in the famed Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach. The restaurant’s atmosphere is dark and serious, but the food takes a twist towards the playful with items such as peanut butter crunch burger and seared foie gras with donuts. Tomato and fig salad is as exquisite as many of the stunning works at Art Basel. White miso sea bass with baby bok choy, white turnip, and dashi poached daikon is equally delectable.
I view thousands of pieces of art over the course of four days, and while this piece by artist Wayne Thiebaud is out of my price range, it certainly speaks to me.
Fortunately, there are multiple menus in Miami that are more suited to my taste.
Blackbrick 3451 NE 1st Avenue, Miami, FL
Mignonette, 210 NE 18th Street, Miami, FL
Pubbelly Sushi, 1424 20th Street, Miami Beach, FL
Michael Mina 74, 4441 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL
My picks come from multiple sources, but are verified through this list of Miami’s 11 best restaurants 2014, as published in the “Miami Herald.”