Miami Spice Review: Soyka

Jose D. Duran
Soyka's grilled petit filet mignon au jus.
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I must admit that I've gone to Soyka countless times before, never considering it too expensive that a Miami Spice prix fixe menu is needed. But my friends decided to have dinner there Wednesday night and I took it as a perfect opportunity to try it out.

Soyka's food is contemporary American with plenty of Italian influences. I've always considered it the Cheesecake Factory of Miami restaurants, not because its a chain -- it's not -- but because the portions are generous and the menu is an inexplicable mish-mash of different items. Don't get me wrong, I like the restaurant; the food is good, the sweet potato fries are super crispy (crispiest in Miami, if I may say so myself), but it's not a place where the food leaves a lasting impression on me. And after previewing the Spice menu online, I didn't expect my Spice experience to change that.

Jose D. Duran
Marshmallow gnocchi.

I started out my meal with the Marshmallow Gnocchi, which doesn't contain any marshmallow -- trust me, I asked. Instead "marshmallow" is used to describe the size of the gnocchi, which came in a Gorgonzola sauce with spinach and mushrooms. As delicious as it sounds (and it was), what came to the table was a mix of beige colors that looked somewhat unappetizing. What happened to eating with your eyes first? And yes, the gnocchi was good and cooked perfectly -- not undercooked, not overcooked -- but the color palette didn't give any indication of that.

Moving on to the entree, a grilled petit filet mignon au jus topped with crispy onions and served with blackened shrimp on a skewer and sweet potato fries. I ordered my filet mignon medium-rare, which I think is one of hardest things for a cook to get right. When you cut into the steak it shouldn't look like you just slaughtered the cow right there on your plate, but the middle should be nowhere near pink. Did Soyka pass? With flying colors.

The shrimp on the other hand was rubbery and too fishy for my taste. I must admit, I'm not a fan of shellfish (something about eating something that looks like a enormous bug bothers me), and I hadn't eaten shrimp in years, but I know what shrimp should feel and taste like, and it was unfortunately overcooked. Thankfully, I had crispy sweet potato fries to comfort me (did I mention how great they are?).

Jose D. Duran
Traditional tiramisu.

The dessert menu differed a bit from the one I saw online, replacing the "decadent" five-layer chocolate cake served with hot fudge with a homemade brownie. So as disappointed as I was, I opted for the traditional tiramisu, which came highly recommended from my server. Yes it was good mix of mascarpone cream and espresso-soaked ladyfingers, but I was hoping for a sort of new twist on an old classic.

You may argue my complaints are invalid, that I should have known Soyka's food isn't exactly experimental or out there, but when comparing it to other Spice restaurants, Soyka is lacking and is one that I suggest you skip. Not because it's bad, but because for the deal your getting you could be dining at a place you normal couldn't afford, experiencing new flavors and ways of looking at food, and Soyka fortunately is pretty affordable all year long.

-- Jose D. Duran

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