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Tasting Tour of Midtown Miami - May 20, 2014

This past Tuesday,  a good friend and I participated in the Check Please, South Florida Tasting Tour of midtown Miami.  Check Please is hosted by Michelle Bernstein, an excellent chef and owner of Michy’s, one of our tour stops.  We had met Michelle before at one of the Apron’s Cooking School classes sponsored by Publix.  Michelle was one of the upcoming young chef’s recognized by the James Beard Foundation.  

We were to meet at 5:30 pm at the old Vagabond Motel on Biscayne.  The old Vagabond had quite a reputation.  Currently it is undergoing a complete renovation and Michelle says she hopes to be the restauranteur of the motel.  We pulled up and parked in their lot just behind the huge bus that would take us on our tour.

Our tour started at the Schnitzel Haus German Restaurant & Pils Bar located at 1085 NE 79th Street in Miami.  Amazingly, the bus driver got the huge bus in an alley and we off-loaded into a great beer garden area of the restaurant.  An added treat was to be able to sit with Michelle’s parents for our homemade bratwurst with potato and cucumber salad.  This place is a winner and if you get the chance, be sure to try their potato pancakes (Michelle’s mother’s favorites). 

The next stop was Michy’s at 6927 Biscayne Blvd.  Michelle was there to greet us and we were quickly served a salad of shaved brussels sprouts, oranges, with parmesan cheese and duck confit.  It was really, really good.  So was the cocktail, Michy’s Monkey Shine made from Tito’s vodka, Compari, fresh lemon juice, and guava nectar.  I’ve eaten at Michy’s several times and I can highly recommend the place.  It’s soon to be closed and remodeled and reopened.

Our third stop was Andiamo! Brick Oven Pizza at 55th Street Station just off Biscayne where we got to choose from some amazing pizzas and a several huge trays of meat balls.  A local brewer, Wynwood Brewing Company, provided the beer.  The pizzas were quite good and this is another winner. 

Probably our least favorite was the fourth stop, City Hall: the Restaurant at 2004 Biscayne.  It’s really a great place with great decor and has a certain vibe for young hipsters.  The food was excellent.  Hors d’oeuvres included tuna tartare and beef sliders.  Unfortunately, I don’t think the place was quite ready for the bus load of visitors all at once and getting the food was hit or miss.  We never got to taste the sliders which people said were excellent.

Michelle saved the best food experience for last with the Buena Vista Bistro at 4582 NE 2nd Ave just outside of the Design District.  We had a sit-down dinner for a bus load consisting of lamb chops in venison sauce with mashed potatoes with truffle oil.  The desert was Royale Chocolate Cake with crunchy hazelnut and chantilly amaretto sauce.  It was quite the food extravaganza and you could tell they were prepared, ready, and wanted to impress.  This is going to be one of my new favorites!

With all the free wine, beer, and cocktails, you might well imagine that some on the bus got a little rambunctious.  One of the louder, more tipsy on the trip ended up backing into me as I was exiting the motel.  Fortunately, no one and no thing was damaged and we had a great trip back home.  If you get the chance, be sure to do these tasting tours.  All are restaurants that were reviewed on her show (with the exception of Michy’s which is never reviewed). 

© Fred Searcy 2017