I am often asked why I am a proponent of “bang bang". This is the act of eating at one restaurant, followed immediately by another, and was recently immortalized by the comedian Louis C.K. in an episode of his FX series “Louie” ( Watch on You Tube here ). Yes, gluttony is a sin and perhaps my destiny is to rot in hell as a consequence, but I assure you, I haven't done "bang bang" enough times to reserve my seat next to Satan, at least not yet, nor have they all been entirely on purpose.
A timing issue in New York City recently led to one of those double dinners; to wit: when I travel for a few days and to a place which has more great dinner-only places than you can fit into your dining schedule, I have dinner twice. People think I'm crazy, but it's not entirely insane or illogical. Restaurants are usually open for dinner at least six hours which gives plenty of time to dine at one, digest and then dine at another. Unfortunately, dinner one (Contra NYC) during that recent trip to NYC lasted not one hour as usual but four, forcing us to shamelessly have to literally walk straight into dinner two (Estela NYC): bang bang.
Ultimately though, the truth is that when there are more than a few restaurants you haven’t been to and want to scratch them off your to-do list, bang bang and a group of adventurous eaters provides the right ingredients. And that is how I recently ended on Lincoln Road opting to decipher the question of whether or not there is anything good to eat on the famously “unpopular-among-gastronomes” Miami pedestrian mall, which boasts over 50 restaurants end to end.
I chose for this task local culinary enthusiast Eric Saltzman, who is as intrepid as they come when it comes to eating. Despite our adventurous spirit, we decided to play it safe with our choices. Our objective was to find decent food to eat on Lincoln Road, not to prove that it is a culinary landmine. We went for Juvia and Meat Market, the two places in our opinion with the highest probability of providing something to eat that is also worth writing about.
Juvia is a breathtaking place. There is no doubt in my mind that if you want to impress friends from out of town , this is the place to take them even if it is for a drink and a glimpse of the sunset and surrounding South Beach. Located on a top floor of the Herzog & de Meuron parking garage, Juvia was awarded the 2013 Outstanding Restaurant Design award by the James Beard Foundation.
When it comes to the food, yes there are many other places in town where you could take your friends if you want to impress their palates, but the truth is that the food isn’t as bad as local food bloggers would have you believe. Expensive? Yes. Outrageously expensive, but how much do you think sunsets cost? If your friends are on a budget, take them elsewhere. If they are on a business account, Juvia it is. I have had some great dishes and some decent dishes there. As I once wrote, they are not aiming for a Michelin star. But there is some serious caliber in that kitchen, and an operation that would give any restaurateur a run for his money.
Our curiosity was focused towards the sushi. I was under the impression that Juvia had a sushi bar, and that its Japanese chef, Sunny Oh, would be manning it. I was wrong and found only a cocktail bar, and Chef Oh leading the pass together with chef Cantineaux. We ordered the sushi nonetheless, hesitant since I’m not a fan of eating sushi other than straight from the hands of a chef behind a sushi bar. You would need to a purist to complain about what we received, since the sushi at Juvia shies away from the tradition and adds flare to nigiri with either a fancy herb combination or spicy foam. I won’t notify the sushi police in Tokyo about this ( but at the same time I won’t be choosing Juvia anytime soon for sushi over say, Naoe, Makoto Bal Harbour , or Japanese Market/Sushi Deli ). But eating their versions was fun, and the view and atmosphere kept us happy.
Our second choice on Lincoln Road was Meat Market, an upscale steakhouse which promised from what I had heard to be an oasis in the middle of the Road. We all inevitably create our own impressions of a restaurant as soon as we walk in based on the decor and environment, and I couldn’t help but feel we were in for a classic, uninspiring steak and potatoes experience similar to the one I could find at any of the other hundred or so steakhouses in town. The place is serious and cold, very mature and somewhat pretentious.
Luckily though, the food we had was quite interesting; I had a buffalo tenderloin rubbed in chili and coffee which I struggled to keep my hands off and only reluctantly shared with Eric. There are plenty of other in-house creations at Meat Market like a roasted pheasant and a meatloaf, all prepared in their wood burning grill that do make it indeed a worthwhile option, if not probably the only option when Lincoln Road is your must-go destination.
Of course no trip to Lincoln Road is done until you visit one of Miami’s most celebrated imports: Shake Shack, Danny Meyer's ode to burgers, shakes and fries. We had the iconic ShackBurger basically for dessert to complete our bang bang (which by now had become a bang bang bang); As expected, it was juicy, flavorful and a fitting end to our Tour de Road. We also sneaked into Nespresso for a free shot at the bar located at the back of the store, obviously with the pretext that we were looking for new flavors for our machines at home (now you know).
I keep hearing that high-end projects will turn Lincoln Road into something akin to the Design District; this may force a change of its food offering, but until then, it continues to be, along with Ocean Drive fairly uninspired as one of Miami’s culinary destinations. However, thanks to Juvia, Meat Market and Shake Shack, there is light at the end of the tunnel…or on Lincoln Road!
1111 Lincoln Road.
Miami Beach, FL
915 Lincoln Road
Miami Beach, Fl
(305) 532 0088
1111 Lincoln Road( at Lenox Ave. )
Miami Beach, FL
(305) 434 7787