Friday, December 28, 2012


For those who live in Brickell or close to it OTC short for Over the Counter is a fantastic new addition. The father-son team of John and Michael Sullivan, first time restaurateurs are the creators behind this gem. The menu is loaded with a verity of mix-and-match items, small-plates and shareable appetizers. This “pair and share” menu as they like to call it is what makes OTC different. I found myself having many combinations to choose from. They also have a changing craft beer menu which offers great beverage pairing and variety as well as a good selection of fine wines. Running things in the kitchen is Chef Tara Abrams, a former sous-chef at Tap 42 in Fort Lauderdale. I knew I was in for a real culinary treat.
I love the whole concept of OTC- you order and pay at the counter, pick your table, sit back and enjoy your meal. Of course this doesn’t work if you don’t want to sit outside and the restaurant happens to be packed as it was that Friday evening. After a small wait we got our table and proceed to order.
To start we ordered Guacamole and Hummus. The Guacamole was amazing, fresh with a hint of lime and the Hummus was gourmet with delicious and hearty ingredients and both dips were made from scratch, loved it. For the main course, I went with BBQ Pulled Pork sliders and the bacon mac & cheese. My friends ordered the Hand-Dipped chicken fingers and the BBQ Chicken & Avocado sandwich. The sliders were delicious, the pork perfect- succulent, juicy, smoky and seductive. Everything pulled pork should be. Disappointed I couldn’t pick 1 of each, but on my first visit I had the La Frieda Beef sliders with the quail egg on top and those also are a must try. Both of my friends enjoyed their dishes. They mentioned the chicken fingers weren’t greasy and very tender. BBQ chicken sandwich was good, well presented and was health conscious without losing its great taste. For dessert we shared the Nutella and Strawberry sandwich. I think we can agree anything with Nutella is a win but this was just sinful. A perfect choice to end the night, thank you Tara.
With its wide selection of plates, beer and wine parings, friendly service and laid back crowd OTC is a wonderful new addition to Brickell. Good luck making a bad choice here, it won’t happen! Located 1250 South Miami Ave go pay them a visit. Whether for lunch or dinner, among a group of friends or date night with that significant other OTC has you covered.
For more info visit OTC.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Burgerliscious 2012

The second annual BURGERLISCIOUS burger competition was held at Fred B. Harnett/Ponce Circle Park on November 8th in Coral Gables.
The event featured burgers from 20 different Gables restaurants and for the second straight year, this event was a grand success. Last year I attended the event for leisure and to blog about it, but this year, I was fortunate enough to be a judge. The judge’s table featured great food talent including, The food-e , Fatgirl Hedonist and yes, even the world famous Burger Beast was there! For each round, the restaurants served a signature slider, paired up with six different beer choices from one of the event sponsors- Samuel Adams. I personally loved the Sam Adams’ White Christmas, which went perfect with almost every burger I ate. When the night was over, Shula’s 347 Grill won the Best in Bun award while The People’s Choice went to The Dome.

My favorite burger of the night #13

Coral Gables is home to over 160 restaurants many which happen to have a variety of tasty burgers! I would like to thank the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce for the opportunity to be part of this great event once again. I hope this event continues to grow and stay in beautiful Coral Gables. Next year bigger and better! 

Video courtesy of Coral Gables TV 

Check out more burgerliscious pics here.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Blue Collar

After months of planning, unforeseen events and cheap excuses on my part, I finally found myself at the door step of Blue Collar, located at 6730 Biscayne Boulevard where American Noodle Bar used to be. This small yet cozy place has a warm and inviting feel to it and it’s a perfect place for a family dinner or to grab a beer with friends. Chef/owner Daniel Serfer and his team, excel in preparing classic American comfort food as well as diverse dishes with amazing flavors and meticulous detail. Serfer, a graduate from Florida State University and former executive chef at 15th Street Fisheries in Fort Lauderdale, has brought this concept to Miami. With daily specials, homemade dishes and even a large section for vegetarians, I knew I was in for a treat.

Being that it was our first time visiting Blue Collar, my companion and I were pretty excited! I mean after reading the reviews why shouldn't we be! We proceeded to dine inside but the restaurant was full, so our server quickly found us a table outside. After we sat down we proceeded straight to the beer menu where we had a nice selection of craft beers. I started with Magic Hat #9, crisp and refreshing pale ale bottled in Vermont, which I loved! In turn my companion enjoyed a Terrapin Rye Ale, a smooth beer from Georgia that offers a complex flavor and aroma.

Being that it’s October and National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Serfer changed the name of his restaurant to Pink Collar for the entire month. Supporting the cause rings close to home for Serfer as it marks the 10th anniversary that his mother, Marsha, lost her battle to this terrible disease. Having lost someone myself to cancer, I found the gesture heartwarming. In addition, the special “Pink Collar” menu features roasted prime rib of beef, seared duck, a salad and wine in which all proceeds from the sales will be donated to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation.

After going over the menu, I decided on the “Real juicy” cheeseburger with sweet potato plantain mash, while my companion had the Grilled Mahi Mahi with mashed potato and sautéed broccoli. For starters my burger was perfectly cooked; the meat was tender with an abundance of flavor. While the plantain mash was different form the traditional sweet potato fries I usually order, I was happy with my side dish. The grilled Mahi Mahi tasted great and fresh, I didn't feel that it was such a heavy plate that I’d feel bloated. This dish was cooked and presented well and it didn't have that greasy feeling and I especially loved the mashed potatoes because it had flair of southern cooking.

When a restaurant exceeds my expectations its always a win! The food is delicious and the service is great. I mean there's not much more you can ask for. I hope Blue Collar stays here for a long time, I'd recommend it to anyone and I'm already planning my return visit. Blue Collar opens for lunch and dinner Sundays-Thursdays from 11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 11:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Stop by and experience it for yourself.

Visit Blue Collar

Read more here:

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Burgerliscious: The Second Course

Burgerliscious takes place in Coral Gables’ Ponce Circle/Fred B. Hartnett Park on Thursday, November 8th from 6-10pm. 20 of South Florida's best restaurants will be competing for the Burgerliscious title! Participating restaurants include: 1862 Restaurant at The Westin Colonnade Hotel Coral Gables, Angelique Euro Cafe, The Bar, The Biltmore Hotel, Burger & Beer Joint, Cafe Books & Books, Christy’s, Coral Gables Senior High Academy of Culinary Arts, Crave, John Martin’s Irish Pub, Morton’s The Steakhouse, Pao Town, Pincho Factory, Rok:Brgr, Route 9, Season 52, Shake Shack, Shula’s 347 Grill, Sushi Maki and, Tarpon Bend Raw Bar & Grill. Prices for this event range from $50 for general admission to $100 for VIP which includes all you can eat BURGERS, early admission to the event, and full access to the Jack Daniels VIP Tent (Drinks included). I think a much better bargain! This was my favorite burger event last year and I'm sure this year will rock! Don't miss out! 

2011 Burgerliscious photos.

Visit Burgerliscious for more info and ticket sales. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Food Truck Piracy

Food trucks have become the evolutionary ladder from the traditional sidewalk food cart. I mean, who doesn't love a good outdoor meal? I love these mobile hot spots that serve food from pizza and burgers as well as culinary creations of unique sandwiches, fresh seafood and delectable desserts. All of my favorite food trucks excel in providing a hearty, home cooked meal at a fair price and with wonderful service. The quality found at many of these eateries is as such that I often times find myself enjoying a meal from a food truck at least 2-3 times each week. However, in the last few years of covering the food truck scene in South Florida, I've noticed some uncomfortable trends. With the widespread growth of these trucks and carts around the area, a battle for territory and spots at local events has become a matter of, “who do you know?”

Despite all of this, food trucks have become very popular for those who enjoy killer recipes and for those seeking a new business. However, for some this food truck scene is short-lived. It isn't easy, and if you think it is you’re already setting yourself up for disappointment. As with any small business, be prepared to devote all of your time to your new endeavor. Be ready to start your day early in the morning prepping food, work throughout afternoon, and most likely late nights. And keep in mind, this is not your typical weekday job, it is essential you work on the weekends to succeed in this business. Licensing and permits are always required, not to mention dealing with South Florida's bipolar weather, promoters and the competition. It is important to understand that just because others have been successful in the food truck business doesn't mean everyone will be. As someone who is very familiar with this niche industry, it is disheartening to attend one of these food truck gatherings only to recognize roughly 2 out of the 12 trucks in the line-up. Those short-lived trucks with mediocre food are only hindering the growth of this otherwise great concept. As a veteran of these events it is slightly different for me as I always know what’s good and before going to any gathering I make sure to research the line-up so I know what to expect. But for a family of 4 that is new to the scene, spends their time to park and stand in some of the outrageous lines, and then pays $40-$50 at the event for food from a subpar truck, the experience can be one that does not necessarily encourage a return visit.

Promoters and other food truck owners don’t make it any easier when trying to break into the business. I have seen countless horrifying scenarios: food trucks being asked to leave an event because their truck wasn't “big” or “nice” enough, hidden agendas resulting in getting a bad location at a gathering, even food truck owners calling the police on other owners! I would like to believe that being in the same industry as others, people would have the decency to practice fair business and treat others with respect. In many cases this is far from the truth. If you’re a promoter you should work for the food trucks, not the other way around. I find it ridiculous that truck owners are forced to pay a truck fee which can range anywhere from $80-$150 before an event. What if the crowd is weak or the weather turns nasty before or during the scheduled start time? Why should this loss be passed directly to the restaurateurs rather than shared between them and the venue owner? Additionally, there are road blocks in place that keep owners from obtaining any knowledge as to the mixture of culinary diversity at these events. For example, if I own a taco truck, I would want to be sure I am not frequenting events with an abundance of other taco trucks or similar food influences in order to increase my probability of greater revenues. Food truck owners should have the right to know what other trucks will be booked at a specific event and be allowed to decline those events without repercussions. Often times, situations arising from circumstances such as these can have dire consequences for the owners of some of these trucks and that plays a huge role in their success. As one food truck owner told me, “I don’t think you’ll see me at any other big events - you see, I've been black listed” Another said, “It’s sad that the fun and joy of our dream and the money from our pockets have been sucked away”.

Owning a food truck takes a lot of hard work and dedication and it is a great way to expand an existing restaurant or break into the food industry. Variety is always good but on the flip side, too much of something can be a bad thing. As a customer I look for 3 simple things: the menu, customer service and the quality of the food. If any of these are off, trust me I will not be coming back. Also showing a little bit of professionalism couldn't hurt. Just because you’re in good with some promoter or have plenty of followers on any social media outlet doesn't necessarily mean your food is worth eating. Remember that.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Edge Steak and Bar

With Miami Spice in full effect, I decide to head over to the Four Seasons Hotel in Brickell for dinner. First things first, the hotel is absolutely gorgeous. My favorite part of the hotel is the pool area, where it's easy to find a quiet spot to read a book or enjoy a cocktail and the great view. Being that it was my first visit; the staff was very helpful and professional in pointing me in the right direction. After I got my bearings, I Made my way to the 7th floor and the reason for my visit, Edge, Steak & Bar.

As I made my way in, a few words came to mind- Sophisticated, sexy, modern and upbeat. We were greeted by the hostess who had our RSVP ready and sat us right away. Since we already went over the Miami Spice menu, both my partner and I were ready to order. From the moment our waiter approached the table, I was impressed. Very friendly and knowledgeable about the menu, he was also very helpful in pairing our dishes with the right wine.

We each choose a starter. First the, peach & tomato Gazpacho, blue crab, California olive oil & ghost pepper. On a hot summer day, a cool meal is ideal. But this wasn’t for me. It was cool and refreshing but the flavoring was all off. When I think Gazpacho, I think of ingredients used at their peak of perfection. Too me, the tomato was off. Moving on to the Tartare, my friends this was a homerun! Corvina tartare, green apple, celery leaf, cilantro and a delectable yellow pepper sauce. I consider myself very picky when it comes to ordering any type of seafood dish. However, this was fresh with flavors that jump out at you and the green apple goes so perfect with this dish. When it came time for the main course, I decided to stick with the fish while my partner had the chicken. The Snapper was pan seared, charred zucchini salad, mussel vinaigrette & saffron. I wasn’t a big fan of the vinaigrette but the fish was perfect. The smell test is especially important when eating fillets. It should have no pungent aromas, because cooking won’t improve it. Unless you caught the fish yourself, you really have no way of knowing exactly how fresh it is. This fish was fresh and a joy to eat. The chicken was grilled with brioche, olive salsa, watercress & a fennel puree. Very tasty, beautifully presented and well portioned. Dessert is always fun, but cotton candy? Yes, yogurt pannacotta with a passion fruit sorbet, tropical fruits & vanilla meringue with banana flavored cotton candy complements of the chef.

I really enjoyed my dining experience at Edge, Its offers a little bit of everything. It's also a great place to come by for happy hour since they have awesome specials like $1 oysters. A stylish and sexy dining room, an outdoor terrace with a pretty view, nice bar and even a private dining area. From prime steaks, slow smoked ribs, fresh fish, local fresh veggies and the Edge burger, Chef Aaron Brooks brings you only the best.

Visit The Edge

Friday, August 24, 2012

ROK:BRGR Miami now open!

Ladies and gentleman ROK:BRGR is officially open in both Broward & Dade County! Serving the best gourmet burgers in the area! As well as a wide selection of comfort foods, craft beers & fine spirits. DON'T BE FOOLED BY COPY CATS... trust me there are several in the area!
Stop by and try their award winning cuisine.

2012 "Best Burger In Broward"
2011 & 2012 "Burger Battle Winner"
2011 "Best Burger In Broward"
2011 "Best Restaurant In Broward"
2011 "Best New Restaurant In Broward"
2011 "Best Burger in SOUT FLORIDA" Channel 10
2012 "Top 50 Restaurants In South Florida"

ROK:BRGR Miami. 5800 sw 73rd St.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

MLT, Cheesesteaks & Grilled Cheese

Opening its doors at Miami Beach on December of 2011, MLT has been serving up authentic Philly Chessesteaks and delectable grilled cheese sandwiches. This small gem was the brainchild of five lifelong friends with an appetite for cheesesteaks. After many months of traveling to the City of Brotherly love, these five friends ate the best Philly had to offer. As a result, MLT now has the best homemade Philly Cheesesteaks anywhere in South Florida. With an extensive menu containing 8 signature cheesesteaks and an option to build your own, I knew I was in for a treat.

My friend and I arrived right after the lunch rush at 1pm. One of the first things I noticed was the cleanliness of the restaurant. Followed by its cool modern look and the fact that you can see how the chef prepares your order. After a small wait we were greeted by the store manager and he personally took our order. Having studied the menu beforehand I ordered The Hangover, thinly sliced rib eye, French fries, sautéed onions, bacon a fried egg and yes lots of Cheez Whiz. My friend elected The Hoagie, this cheesesteak came with provolone cheese, mayo, shredded lettuce & tomatoes.

My cheesesteak was perfect. The steak was delicious, very tender and flavorful. The Cheez Whiz hit the spot and the jalapenos I ordered on the side gave it that kick it was missing. My friend enjoyed this meal but called it average. Saying it was a bit too greasy and bland. And I quote, “I’ve had better.” However he was very fond of the fries which came with a helpful serving. The real disappoint was the Fried Chicken Biscuits! The biscuit and maple gravy sauce were incredible; however the chicken was another story. Greasy, dry and way over cooked for my taste.

Price vs. value is an issue I have with this place. Personally I think it's very tasty yet very pricy. I mean $43 for lunch for two people? A little on the pricy side I think. Yes? The menu will have you salivating like it did me but remember it’s the beach. Be expected to pay more. There are a couple more menu items I’d like to try, especially the Homemade Waffles. The staff is very friendly, the place is clean and the Cheesesteak above average. Best in Miami, I’d say yes.

Check out MLT's menu items here.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Cypress Creek Round Up 1 year Anniversary Party.

Join me Wednesday August 8th from 5-9:30pm at the Cypress Creek Round Up! An all-star food truck lineup will be on deck. Including- BC Tacos, Big Kahuna, Boba Station, Bocaditos, Cucina al Mare, Dog Eat Dog, Ms Cheezious, Purple Ppl Eatery, Slow Food Truck and Sugar Yummy Mama. More importantly a portion of all the trucks sales get donated to St. Baldricks Foundation. A wonderful charity dedicated to helping fight childhood cancer. A great cause, live music, good eats and atmosphere. Don’t miss out see you there!

Make a donation, visit St. Baldrick's Foundation.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Lulu in the Grove

I’m a firm believer that good things come in small packages. Proof of this concept is Lulu in the Grove, located in the heart of Coconut Grove at 3105 Commodore Plaza. Don’t let its size full you - Lulu has much to offer. With its chic décor, mellow vibe, exciting dishes, happy hour drink specials Monday through Friday from 4-7pm and your choice of indoor or outdoor seating, Lulu is the perfect place for a first date, people watching or simply some relaxing time alone.

On our first visit my friends and I arrived just after 7pm. I was pleasantly surprised at how cordial and warm everyone was; from the manager to the busboy the entire staff made all of us feel very welcomed. We made our way to the bar which takes up most of the space inside the restaurant, sat down and right away Elizabeth took care of us. She told us about their specials for the evening and informed us that if this was our first visit, we would receive complimentary sangria by checking in on Foursquare (information that ended up coming in very handy).

We started off our meal by ordering the Spinach and Artichoke Dip with tortilla chips and their Sweet & Spicy Ginger Chicken Wings. While both of the appetizers were fantastic, the wings really wowed me. They were so good they managed to make my “Top 5 Wing Joints in Miami” list. Later on I decided to try the Kobe Beef Slider. Well presented and cooked to a perfect medium-rare, I actually just stared at it for a while before eating it. It’s pricey - $6 just for one, but the flavor is most definitely worth it (though, for its size and price range I wouldn't mind having two on my plate). My friends went with the Seafood Pasta which was absolutely perfect. We finished with a Lulu’s Café and me having the sweet tooth that I do, I decided to try the mango cheesecake. While not terrible, I wasn't really feeling this dessert.

A few weeks later, I came in for lunch to finally try the Lulu burger - a 10oz Angus burger with massive strips of bacon, Swiss cheese, and chipotle sauce. As I waited for my meal the bartender made me delicious freshly squeezed lemonade. When the burger arrived it was cooked perfectly medium and looked absolutely delicious. Memo to all burger lovers: when there’s more pattie then bun it’s a good thing! Creativity and fresh ingredients made this burger a delight to eat, and the steamed asparagus I substituted for the fries was a welcoming compliment.

Friendly service, an enticing menu, a great wine list and a “high class” feel make Lulu in the Grove one of the best spots in Miami. Seriously, what more can you ask for? At Lulu the customer is #1. I’ve really enjoyed my visits and am sure I’ll be a regular there in no time. Stop in for a quick bite or a bottle of wine and I’m sure you’ll fall in love just as easily as I did.

Visit Lulu online at Lulu in the Grove or on Twitter @LuluintheGrove

Monday, July 2, 2012

Miami Spice 2012

If you’re a food lover like me, then you've been counting the days till Miami Spice 2012 starts! From August 1st till the end of September, Miami’s best restaurants will be offering three-course meals with prices ranging from ($19 or $23 for lunches and Dinners $33 or $39) showcasing signature dishes created by distinguished chefs. They’ll be a little something for everyone and I for one am looking forward to trying new dishes and old favorites.

Check out the list of participating restaurants here. 

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Pincho Factory opening in Coral Gables.

I’m proud to call myself a regular at Pincho Factory. Family owned and operated by Nedal and his wife Kristel. Pincho Factory strives to serve only the best and freshest food around. And now, after being open for just a year and a half they have found a second home in Coral Gables. The Gables is about to get introduced to an award winning menu featuring some of the best burgers, pinchos and other gourmet creations they have come up with. The new restaurant will be located just off Miracle Mile at 30 Giralda Ave., Coral Gables 33134. I for one will be at the grand opening... so stay tuned. 

Follow Pincho Factory on Twitter @PinchoFactory for all the latest updates! 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Miami's Top 5 Chicken Wing joints.

#5-Lulu My new addiction is Lulu in the Grove.  I love this place.  The food and service are always superb.  It's a good place for people watching, having a cold drink with friends, watching the game or simply relaxing.  Covered in a sweet & spicy ginger sauce which is very pleasing.  These Asian style chicken wings are a must try! Crispy with a hit of heat, sweet and garlicky.
#4 Doral Hooters As far as the food is concerned, it’s really not up to par.  Then again, it’s Hooters.  The wings are delicious but the service, honestly, could be much better.  If you’re looking for cheap drinks, wing specials and eye candy, this is the place for you.  You can order your wings breaded or “naked” and choose from 5 different sauces.  The “911” sauce is my favorite and has just the right amount of spice.  By the way, unless you want to refill your own drinks, don’t sit at the outside bar.

#3- Crave What can I say about this place that already hasn’t been said?  I love Crave!  Located in the Village at Merrick Park shops in Coral Gables, this place is a gem.  The decor is beautiful, the service great, and the food has always left me wanting more.  It wasn’t until my seventh visit for lunch when I first tried the Crave wings.  They’re a work of art.  Perfectly presented and covered with an exceptional dry rub.  Yes, only five come with an order but on the upside, there massive and delicious. It’s a great appetizer before your main dish.

#2-The Joint Bar & Grill has it all. Great happy hour, the BEST burgers in South Miami and a friendly staff.  What more can you ask for?  How about great wings!  One word comes to mind - consistency.  These are wicked hot wings, with generous amount of seasoning, flavor and spice.  Breaded and covered in their secret homemade hot sauce made fresh everyday. "Bring the Heat" wings are a perfect appetizer, afternoon snack or game day finger food! Make a note - they pack a mighty punch.

#1- Sports Grill After a fulfilling two month search across Miami, Sports Grill tops at numero uno. Whether it be for a quick lunch or watching the big game with a group of friends, Sports Grill on Sunset has everything you need. The hot wings here have no match! I recommend their Special Grilled, or if you’re a fan of HOT, try the Miami Heats. You can also choose Buffalo style, BBQ, Garlic, Teriyaki and Dale style. You can’t go wrong with any of their choices but the honey mustard is the best side sauce. Unlike those other places in Doral, the service, ambiance and food has never let me down. Sports Grill is a Kendall landmark. Swing by, have a beer, and try the wings. You’ll agree its great and won’t hurt you in the pocket.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Papas Tapas

Covering the South Florida food truck seen for almost two years now, I’ve come across some good and not so good eats.  Luckily Papas Tapas doesn’t fall into either category.  From a scale of 1 to 10 Papas is a 20!  Owned and operated by Chef Eduardo Bruno and his family, Papas brings an amiable attitude and offers a wide range of homemade delicacies.  No matter what you’re in the mood for, Papas Tapas has you covered.

Papas Tapas has a pretty extensive menu. I consider them a gourmet food truck. With everything from fresh tilapia ceviche, beef or chicken skewers, tacos, a delicious pork sandwich, soups and their world famous fried Mac & Cheese Balls with marinara sauce.  All for a price that won’t hurt your pocket.  To me, the benefit of homemade cooking is knowing exactly what you’re eating.  Papas Tapas offers a freshly prepared weekly menu which you can taste in every bite.  Not to mention outstanding service and a friendly staff. Having tried everything on their menu I can honestly say you can't go wrong with anything you order.  However their tacos and what I like to call 'hangover soup" are my favorite items.

Miami is a big place with many edible wonders, which is common for a big city like ours.  Luckily, it’s easy to keep up with Papas Tapas. Follow them on Twitter @PapasTapasMIA or thier Facebook page.  Papas Tapas truck is one of my favorites in Miami.  With over ten visits they’ve yet to disappoint and if I was a betting man, I’d bet they never will.