After Tuesday, I'll no longer be the Restaurant Critic here at New Times. But you can bet I'll still be eating out at plenty of restaurants around South Florida.
Just like any other consumer, I get excited by the prospect of new restaurants and where the scene here might be headed. Sometimes, that direction gets me down. But at other times, I see glimmers of hope that make me look forward to what else these two counties might offer in the future.
So, before I go, a parting wish list of what I'd like to see more of in the restaurant scene.
More Ethnic Restaurants with Unique Menus
great thing about where we live is our tastes are so broad and
varied because the people who live here are so broad and varied. There
are some great ethnic restaurants around South Florida, and I love
seeing new Indian, Thai, and Japanese restaurants pop up. But the last
thing this place needs is another restaurant serving the
same green curry or tuna tataki you can get anywhere else.
The best places are the ones with unique menus that offer a more
nuanced taste of their homelands. Poll Florida's foodies, and you'll
These places don't just serve the same old identical menus as every
other ethnic restaurant -- they incorporate unusual flavors and
authentic tastes, giving us a portal into their culture.
Less Reliance on Big Name Chefs
I can't count how many times I've
seen a big name chef brought into a restaurant, only to drop off after
a month or two (paging Holy Smoke's). Or they lend their name to a place, and have very
little to do with the actual day-to-day work. Luckily, I think most consumers are
getting wise to these stunts and are looking past them now.
Keep it Small
favorite restaurants to eat at are places that feel intimate and
special, not food factories where dishes are churned out with abandon.
So many restaurants shoot towards big volume and expansion before they
even make their first sale. Thinking big is OK, but, for me, thinking small is
owners are living out their American Dream in a modest way. You can
feel the effort put into the food and experience, which in turn makes a
meal there feel that much more special. There are personalities behind
each restaurant, and sometimes they can be pretty interesting.
More Emphasis on Ingredients
It's sad that so many
restaurants have pantries that look like a Cheney Brothers catalog. But
every day there are more and more out there showcasing local
ingredients, fresh Florida seafood, and made-from-scratch flavors.
There are so many great local purveyors of produce and meat now, and
more restaurants are starting to showcase vegetables from vendors like
Loxahatchee's Swank Farms. Even when it's not local, the best food
comes from great ingredients -- ingredients that chefs and owners take
their time to source.
Slow Food That's Affordable
The artisan spirit behind
movements like Slow Food is blooming in South Florida, which is the
trend that needs to continue to grow the most. I'd love to see more
where everything that hits the tables is made fresh daily, with care
and attention to detail. Both restaurants change their menus often with
what's fresh and available; both hand craft things like their own
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pickles and bread, and slow roast meats and source ingredients locally
with an eye towards showcasing natural flavors. These places keep food
simple, real, and made-from-scratch, and because they're not buying
expensive prepackaged goods, they're able to keep prices low too.