There is no doubt that Michael Schwartz is a talented and acclaimed chef. He is someone who marries American classics with urban cool. Yet for me, his restaurant Micheal’s Genuine doesn’t speak to me. I know, I am one of the few who didn’t fall in love with it. My favourite restaurant was when he partnered with Myles Chefetz at Nemo. Now I am really dating myself. That is not to say he hasn’t impressed the majority of the crowds who flock there.
Now the James Beard award-winning chef and owner has opened another space in a newly developing area called Edgewater at 101 NE 7th Avenue. It is off 31st and Biscayne, where a number of brand new condos have sprouted up towards the sky. Amara, is stunningly beautiful, in a bayside setting, sitting at the water’s edge, with palm trees, lights twinkling in the distance, whitewashed furniture inside and natural wood deck chairs on a man-made beach, outside.
Just open one month, the upscale crowd has found their new paradise. And so, the restaurant is aptly named.
The executive chef is Michael Paley, and he has taken a similar formula to Chef Schwartz’s menu with sections of snacks and small, medium and large dishes. But here he has reimagined the menu by introducing Latin flavours and coastal ingredients, and by paying homage to the mix of cultures found in a Miami. The menu represents many Latin American countries such as Peru, Argentina, and Brazil.
The menu still focuses on clean balanced food, and simple cooking techniques enhanced by the flame.
The setting is glamorous but the food, for the most part, is uninspiring.
I enjoyed the tropical cocktail list and the moderately priced wine list. The snacks were also well executed. The whipped carrot with green garbanzo beans, créme fraiche, and a wonderful seeded crisp was a nice start, as were the yuca cheese puffs that you roll in Parmesan cheese and sea salt. I like the chewy texture. On the small plates, we had a salad of grilled corn, with Sungold tomato, queso fresco, red quinoa and cascabel chili. It was nothing special. In the medium section of the menu, we eagerly tried the grilled lamb ribs but found them gamey, fatty and salty. You couldn’t taste the chili rub or the sour orange accompaniment. We also ordered the crispy octopus with braised yuca and a smoked paprika aioli. Not crispy, but anemic. From the large section, the short ribs with cabbage, Marcona almonds, and sour orange, were also fatty and too salty. The best dish in this section is Michael’s famous pan roasted half chicken, with a garlic and pasilla rub, Redland herbs and hearts of palm. I think they should serve a whole chicken if they are calling this a large dish. It was barely enough to feed four. We accompanied these dishes with a side of roasted sweet potatoes, topped with some jalapeño créma and scallions.
The dessert list is short and concise with four choices. We chose the rich and decadent cashew chocolate torte, with passion fruit and smoked Maldon salt.
Our server Shirley was delightful and helped to make our evening special, despite food that was not very stellar. But despite all that, we still had a very enjoyable evening. I would definitely request an outside table weather permitting. The inside portion is beautiful with floor to ceiling windows that open and a very lively bar, but it gets really noisy as the night progresses. Outside, I felt like I was in the tropics, or at a chic beach club.
They are currently open 7 days a week for dinner. They will be opening soon for brunch, and possibly for lunch in the future. Upstairs is a private beach club that will likely feed all the condos going up around it. You can only valet park here, but it is only $5 at this time.
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