Archive for March, 2010
Make your reservations today for The Forge restaurant in Miami Beach. The Forge phone number is: 305-538-8533
By Elaine Walker, The Miami HeraldMcClatchy-Tribune Regional News
March 30, 2010
When The Forge closed its doors almost a year ago, many speculated that the Miami Beach landmark was yet another restaurant casualty of the recession.
The gossip made owner Shareef Malnik laugh because he knew better.
“I loved that talk,” Malnik said. “Let them be surprised. It’s a much more effective marketing tool. I knew that it was always going to play in my favor when I reopened.”
That day arrives Wednesday, when Malnik will unveil the results of a more than $10 million renovation that completely transforms the more than 40-year-old restaurant. Everything has changed, from the menu and the chef to the decor and even the building’s exterior.
Also gone are the nightclub and the outrageous Wednesday night parties that helped herald South Beach’s revival.
You’ll still find a couple traces of The Forge’s past, like the crystal chandeliers and stained-glass windows.
Malnik has tried to blend the history with a new vision for the future.
“I built this for the next 40 years,” said Malnik, whose father first purchased The Forge in 1969 and ran it until 1991 when the son took over. “I don’t need to get all my money back this year. I built it for the long term.”
While The Forge remains an upscale fine-dining restaurant, Malnik has lowered prices and broadened the menu. He wants The Forge to be a place where diners come for more than just a celebration dinner or a big expense account meal.
The hope is that customers will also choose The Forge to meet a friend for a glass of wine and a snack after work or a casual weeknight dinner.
The Forge is not alone. Locally, Chef Allen’s has reinvented itself, as have countless other fine-dining restaurants across the country. Experts say it’s critical in an economy where consumer spending is down and competition is keen — particularly in prime markets like Miami Beach.
“High-end restaurants are trying to reduce the cost of a visit to encourage more visits, so people don’t trade down,” said Richard Lackey, a Palm Beach Gardens-based restaurant broker and consultant. “People are eating out less, so incentives for return visits are key.”
Shareef decided to take advantage of last year’s slowdown in business and reinvest for the future. He originally planned to be open in time for the busy winter season, but later realized those were “unrealistic expectations.”
The new environment is designed to be more comfortable for guests. The number of seats has been reduced by 40 percent, adding more couches and oversized wing chairs. Every piece of furniture was custom-made or designed, including tables made of trees from Indonesia and Murano glass chandeliers from Italy.
“We didn’t design a restaurant; we designed a space,” Malnik said. “Before it was all about excess. Now it’s about access. It’s much more familiar. That’s the feeling we’re trying to engender.”
Gone is the tuxedo-clad staff, replaced by a uniform featuring black stand-up collar shirts with a prominent white F on the cuff. The menu no longer focuses on traditional fare such as steak and creamed spinach. While the steaks remain, chef Dewey LoSasso offers choices that are lighter and more eclectic.
There’s a lobster peanut butter and jelly sandwich ($15), tomato and goat cheese brulee salad ($16) or a grilled Angus burger topped with boneless short ribs and lobster marmalade ($20). Entrees range from $15 to $55, including a grilled whole Branzino fish in wild mushroom miso broth ($39).
The average per-person check will be $80, down from $120, Malnik estimates.
Malnik also has integrated new technology throughout the restaurant. He can view the restaurant’s lighting and music on his iPhone and adjust the levels from anywhere. Six different satellites can pipe in music from radio stations around the world.
The restaurant features 10 self-service wine machines and 80 wines, allowing customers to buy 1 ounce, 3 ounces or 5 ounces. They can use an iTouch to access information about each wine, post a toast on Facebook or Twitter and create a virtual wine locker to save their favorites on their own iPhone.
“For us, the bad economy gave me a new breath of life,” Malnik said. “The brand has got so much goodwill, I would be foolish to not come back. But it had to be a business model that makes sense.”
|When the Forge reopens next Wednesday, it won’t look like this.|
While we first reported that The Forge restaurant in Miami Beach was reopening on March 29, that date has been pushed back two days to Wednesday night. The legendary eatery is relaunching with little fanfare and without a mega gala. Owner Shareef Malnik is trying to retool his party-crazy hot spot into a serious restaurant without relying on promoters, fashion shows and celebrities, all of which were hallmarks of the past Forge era (especially on Wednesday nights).
Short Order received a hard-hat tour of the revamped space on 41st Street and we were blown away. Malnik has completely changed the flow of the 42-year-old restaurant, moved bars and created a new seating scheme. Ninety percent of the restaurant has been gutted and renovated. While we weren’t allowed to take pictures or notes, we can tell you that the design scheme resembles something out of Alice in Wonderland. The Forge’s Designer François Frossard’s innovations include low-slung couches in what used to be the main dining room, a tree-trunk communal table and a back wall of bubbles outlining a sexy silhouette.
The Library, which used to be Siberia in terms of power-dining, is now a cozy room with more couches, a fireplace, eclectic books and gorgeous chandeliers. In effect, it’s exactly where the Mad Hatter would host a tea party. All of the furniture has been custom-made for The Forge.
Furthermore, the bar has been moved from the back of the restaurant to the right of what used to be the main dining room. Lining the square bar is a state-of-the-art wine serving system, whereby oenophiles and newbies can sample small (and large) pours of pinot noirs and sauvignon blancs. Diners can also partake in this wine system (which features over 80 bottles) if they desire.
While new chef Dewey Losasso’s menu has not been released yet, during our tour we saw the classic Forge salad being prepped, as well as a gorgeous wedge salad with bacon dressing. We tried to stick around for the entrees, but no such luck.
Overall, there’s a sexy vibe to the Forge 2.0, which eschews its formerly traditional flavor for a modern spin. We can’t wait until it reopens its door next Wednesday night.
432 West 41st St., Miami Beach
So perhaps it wasn’t fair of us to try to squeeze information out of The Forge’s long-time executive sommelier Gino Santangelo over multiple glasses of wine at a South Beach Wine and Food Festival dinner, but we just couldn’t resist. After all, news has been trickling in about The Forge’s upcoming reopening (March 29) and, heck, inquiring minds needed some dish.
One thing many hope won’t change much is The Forge’s endlessly educational underground wine cellar that only few have toured, even though the restaurant’s flashy new website teases an “expansion.” But they’re wrong…or at least they may be..cuz we can’t get formal confirmation.
But Santangelo didn’t say his den of treasures would be changing drastically. He did mention that, in addition to having a new executive chef in the kitchen (Dewey LoSasso) and all kinds of chic, new décor adjustments, thanks to designer Francois Frossard, The Forge be offering an innovative wine-by-the-glass serving system, that sources confirm will be from the Georgia-based company Enomatic. The system uses pressurized nitrogen, self cleaning technology, and smart cards to let wine-lovers choose as much or as little as they want. It’s beautiful and back-lit with stainless steel. It’s not clear what grade of the gizmo the Forge is looking at, but in any case, it’s amazing.
If you have been around this town for a while, you may recall the rumors that a $125,000 wine-by-the-glass dispenser Alvin Malnik put in around mid-2008 nearly destroyed the entire restaurant. Ah, the irony.
But let’s just put that behind us and focus on the future, wherein oenophiles will pour grapey goodness into their stemware in a sheer state of bacchanalia, forever changing the relationship between bartender and barfly. The website promises we can slurp from 80 wines by the glass, but there’s no telling if we can pour all those labels ourselves. Or drink that much in one night, for that matter. But we’ll die trying.
By Fred Gonzalez & Sara Frederick of Miami.com
This wasn’t your parents Bubble Q. Nor your grandparents. The 2010 edition of champagne meets barbecue on the sands of Miami Beach behind the Delano had much different vibe than in years past. Gone was the feeling of exclusivity with a smaller crowd mixing with chefs, tv personalities and celebs.
Instead it was an all out dance party, with much louder and intense music from a DJ and live brass accompaniment that had the masses grooving and shaking to a mix of disco and latin sounds.
The party vibe was so intoxicating that midway through the event, an only-in-Miami thing: People were standing outside the tent hoping to crash the party. More than one person stopped people who left early and asked for the all-powerful green bracelet that would get them entry to the BubbleQ.
Aside from the celeb chefs, the Bubble Q was lacking in star power. Sure we spotted local jazz singer Nicole Henry and former NBA player Jerry Stackhouse, but there was no John Legend or Al Roker this year.
And décor was seemed less, too. In the past you’d see drapes and a massive number of Styrofoam letter Qs. This year it was replaced by sad orchids in vases, although the flower is part of champagne sponsor Perrier-Jouet’s logo. The biggest difference, however, was the most impressive. From the center of the tent hung an aerial gymnast by her ankles, dressed in a lime green body suit, surrounded by hanging bottles of P-J champagne. She would grab a bottle, pop the cork, and then pour to the glasses of the people standing below her. As can be imagined, it was a crowd favorite. Oh yeah, the barbecue.
Either the chilly air made people eat faster in an attempt to stay warm, or budgets aren’t what they used to be as no less than four booths were out of food by 9:30 p.m., including chef Todd English’s New England scallops and the Tony Neely/Neely Bar-B-Q booth from Memphis, Tenn., ran out of ribs by 8:40 p.m., only an hour and 10 minutes into the three-and-a-half hour event, but were spotted grooving to the sounds at around 9 p.m.. Their booth continued serving their heavy-on-the-mayo potato salad to festival goers.
Among our food favorites – the steak slices from Kris Wessel at Red Light Little River and Dewey LoSasso at The Forge on Miami Beach and the tequila milkshakes from Norman Van Aiken of Norman’s 180 in Coral Springs.
Of the 32 food stations, 12 featured South Florida chefs and restaurants, and many brought their A-game. In the back of the tent was the best desert station in recent memory at a Bubble Q.
Sweet Street had various types of mousse desserts served in shot glasses and sitting atop blocks of ice crafted with their logo. And they never ran out because they made 6,000 treats in advance.
However, there wasn’t any signage to tell you what each was, so staffers from the booth were mingling with the crowd to help people identify the creations. Favorites included death by chocolate, which was topped with a chocolate waffle cone. By the end of the night folks were snatching up bottles of champagne and serving it themselves, disassembling flower arrangements and taking them home. As one person mentioned, things were getting a tad sloppy. Better not let the parents hear that.
The Consequences Charity is dedicated to reducing adolescent criminal behavior and supporting communities with proactive intervention programs that promote lasting change by impacting the lives of vulnerable youth and their families In pursuit of this goal, this charity funds scholarships and makes grants that help organizations fashion more innovative, cost-effective responses to these needs.
Grammy Award Winner Natalie Cole will Perform
There will be an Exhibition Match between Top Heavyweight Boxer “Fast Fres” Oquendo and MMA Specialist Andrew Arlovski
Other Special Guests will include:
Kim Zolciak, Real Housewives of Atlanta, performing
and TV/Latin music sensation Jencarlos Canela
DJ Tracy Young
Featuring Miami’s Best Boutiques in Fashion, Design, Jewelry, and Art
By Jackie Sayet in South Beach Wine & Food Festival, Video
|Q the bussers.|
To the rhythm of the bongos, bubbly in-hand, we bopped down the horseshoe of booths at last night’s Perrier-Jouet Bubble Q. It’s an event you accept for its woes as much as its wows. Expecting fabulous food, easy maneuvering in the crowds and glimpsing the big man would have been a a mistake. The fun was in seeing familiar faces and meeting new ones. It was also about the hunt for diamonds in the rough one bite of one dish at a time. As seasoned Bubble Q veterans know, only the truly deserving dishes should be devoured after the first bite to save room, lest you not make it through the night. Here are our standouts this year, having made it through just about the entire line-up, save a few entries.
Norman Van Aken’s Key West-inspired “mollete” sandwich, a decadent medallion of deep fried dough stuffed with picadillo and topped with cool mojo cole slaw, had our stomachs growling even more for a swift opening of 180.
Michelle Bernstein did her thing with juicy corn masa tortillas filled with kobe beef and green tomato slaw bursting with flavor. Probably our favorite of the night.
|There’s even two end-of-tent photo booths to capture champagne- and barbecue-induced silliness.|
Aaron Sanchez, too, was bundling up some goodies, pork belly tacos with cactus (nopales) pickled red onion salad and chili habanera rub, very typical of the state of Yucatan in Mexico. You just have to love this second generation Latino chef for his passion for the traditional cuisines of Mexico.
John Besh was in Banh Mi mode with his Vietnamese Po’ Boy stuffed full of slabs of silken, roast sucking pig with a sambal mayo kick and the obligatory fresh bundles of cilantro.
Claude Tragois and Maria Manso made skirt steak skewers and chimichurri, but what made us melt was the side of hot fresh fruit cream cracker “farofa,” not unlike a loose bread pudding.
|Dewey Losasso’s filet sandwich for The Forge|
Dewey Losasso somehow managed to embrace excess and arrive at an understated and tasty result with his sandwich of roasted filet mignon, boneless short ribs, and lobster marmalade, not to mention the side of almost-not-fair truffled yuca chips.
Susan Spicer from Bayona in New Orleans grilled oysters with savory artichoke bread pudding and lemon garlic butter — rich but tasty.
|The tasty bite of Norman and son Justin, his right hand in the kitchen. Still thinking about it now.|
|Michelle, my belle…|
|Keeping it simple and authentic. Thanks, Aaron.|
|Your author and a friend make a Todd English sandwich, inspired by|
BubbleQ Is Hot Ticket At SOBE Wine & Food Festival
Festival Runs Feb. 25th – 28th
Many High-Profile Events Are Sold Out
There’s an epicurean extravaganza taking place on Miami Beach. It’s the 10th annual South Beach Wine and Food Festival which kicked off Thursday night with the “Burger Bash” hosted by Rachael Ray. It continues Friday night with another hot event, “The Perrier-Jouët BubbleQ”, featuring chef, restaurateur and TV personality Emeril Lagasse.
The event begins at 7:30 p.m. on the soft white sand of the Delano Hotel. General admission tickets are $350 and some are still available. The $450 VIP reception is sold out.
This marquee event features non-stop temptations; serving station after serving station of juicy grilled meats and succulent seared seafood, fire-roasted vegetables, and all manner of spicy, creamy, crunchy side dishes and daring, decadent desserts. Don’t forget about the endlessly flowing Perrier-Jouët Champagne.
The South Beach Wine and Food Festival is a star-studded four-day event that showcases the talents of the world’s most renowned wine and spirit producers, chefs and culinary personalities.
The event began as a one-day festival called the Florida Extravaganza in 1997 at FIU. It was founded as a fundraiser for Florida International University’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management and has grown tremendously over the years. It is now one of the largest and most well-known festivals of its kind in the country.
In addition to Thursday nights Burger Bash, and Friday night’s Bubble-Q, other high-profile events include Paula Deen’s $125 Kiss My Grits Jazz Sunday Brunch at the Loews Hotel on South Beach, and Guy Fieri’s Moon Over Miami Closing Party at Ganesvoort South Beach on Sunday.
There’s also Saturday and Sunday’s $212.50 Grand Tasting at Lummus Park.
Another fun event for the entire family is the Fun and Fit As A Family featuring the Kidz Kitchen which takes place at Jungle Island. The two-day long mini-festival teaches kids and their parents how to make healthy food choices and features a variety of cooking demonstrations for children by various Food Network personalities such as Rachael Ray, Paula Deen, and Daisy Martinez on Saturday and Rocco DiSpirito, Michelle Bernstein, and Guy Fieri on Sunday.
The Food Network South Beach Wine and Food Festival will run through Sunday, Feb. 28th.