Shireen’s Spotlight: R House Wynwood

Shireen’s Spotlight: R House Wynwood

Shireen’s Spotlight: R House Wynwood

Shireen’s Spotlight: R House Wynwood

Shireen’s Spotlight: R House Wynwood

Shireen’s Spotlight: R House Wynwood

Shireen’s Spotlight: R House Wynwood

Shireen’s Spotlight: R House Wynwood

Shireen’s Spotlight: R House Wynwood

What:

Friday night dinner at “R House Wynwood,” one of the coolest, most dynamic restaurants in the Magic City. It also happens to be the perfect place to celebrate Art Basel 2017, because no one should “baaaasel” on an empty stomach.

Why:

Magnetic, inspired and original: “R House” is more than just a restaurant, it’s an experience.

Sitting loud and proud in the center of Wynwood, it’s a place that beckons you from the street and quietly seduces the senses once inside. It’s not just about breaking bread, either (although the bread is to die for)…

Instead, it’s a seamless mix of art, food and music with a sexy attitude woven in-between, which coincidentally mirrors the characteristics of the Magic City, especially this week as Art Basel bares down on our majestic mecca.

From South Beach, Midtown, Mimo to Wynwood, there are a lot of different places to celebrate, but “R House” has that *thing* everyone seems to be looking for during one of the biggest art fairs in the world.

I don’t mean to sound elusive when I use the word “thing” — but art is subjective and personal, making it almost impossible to define in a food blog. It is, however, something that can make you feel good, which is a beautiful thing considering the climate of the world we live in and “R House” does just that: makes you feel good.

The restaurant, which features all kinds of gorgeous artwork you can buy while filling your belly, is the brainchild of Chef Rocco Carulli. Although he credits a lot of people around him for his success, it’s Rocco himself who willed “R House” into existence.

When I met him last Friday night, he lit up like a Christmas tree recounting how he left his restaurant up north to give this city a go. It wasn’t easy, either, and at the time, Wynwood wasn’t exactly the hot bed it is now. Despite all the idiosyncrasies of the food and real estate business in Miami, he built his eclectic vision and never looked back.

The food at “R House” is described as “rustic Southern Italian complemented by modern farm-to-table American dishes.” While that’s accurate, it’s also delicious and high-quality. Chef Rocco knows his stuff and he does it with the ease and grace of a food ninja. When his cuisine saturates your tastebuds, you don’t know what hit you, but you know you want MORE.

Oh, and did I mention the liquor? Using top shelf spirits like Skyy Vodka, a lot of the cocktails are infused with delicious fruits and other fresh ingredients, making even Wild Turkey easy to swallow (I’ll get to that in minute) but first…

I started #Spotlight with the strawberry-muddled “Japanese Lemonade” made with sake. Who doesn’t like fresh and fruity? Plus, I’m a sucker for anything pretty & pink. The cool as a cucumber “Culantro Martini” (made with cucumber-infused vodka and elderflower liqueur) has a delicious cilantro flair.

While I love drinks with originality, I like the classics, too. Especially Old Fashioned’s & Moscow Mules. “R House” has original takes on both. With strawberry-infused vodka, homemade ginger beer and muddled strawberries, their mule is magnificent. The “R Old Fashioned” (which comes with straight bourbon whiskey or rye whiskey) is mixed with raw brown sugar, aromatic bitters, orange zest and garnished with an Italian cherry. It’s mind-boggling-ly smooth. (Warning: your mind WILL boggle with two.)

From the Sharing Plates part of the menu, I inhaled the “Yellowfin Tuna Tartare” (made with avocado, sweet chili sauce, wasabi cream and wonton chips.) It’s a MUST-TRY. The “Beet Arugula Pesto Salad” is healthy and yummy with goat cheese and spicy candy pecans.

Just call me ‘Meatball Sandoval’ after trying the “Grass-Fed Brisket and Short Rib Meatballs” — I could eat them everyday for the rest of my natural born life. Hmmm…I sopped up Chef Rocco’s heirloom tomato marinara with perfectly baked bread. If you happen to be a fan of tiger prawns, the “Gamberetti Marinara” is terrific and boasts a chili flake kick. BTW, all prawns are NOT created equally; while gi-normous, these are also tender and tasty.

Before my main course, my server (who was the perfect mix of interesting and knowledgeable) suggested the drink most people can’t get enough of. He actually called it the “Happy Hour Destroyer”… I laughed out loud at its bequeathed title, but he insisted it was true. “Women love them and before you know it they’ve had one, two, three.. we have to cut them off” he explained. Well then, by all means…

The Happy Hour Destroyer is actually called: “Berry Bourbon” (made with Berry-infused Wild Turkey bourbon, berry puree and lime juice.) WOW. I get it now. I’m a total convert and I’m not exactly a Wild Turkey kind of woman. I can change my ways, though. Lol. Next…

I tried “Braised Lamb Shanks” from the Main part of the menu (made with a porcini mushroom-coriander-cinnamon rub and served on a bed of arugula pesto Israeli couscous.) The meat fell off the bone and the couscous was the perfect texture, not too hard; not too soft. Hmmm…

I’ve never had “Zeppole” but Chef Rocco changed that; serving his delicious Italian doughnuts smothered in powdered sugar. They come in a medium sized brown bag — shake and pour. I tried raspberry and chocolate. Who doesn’t love little round balls of fried dough? It’s heaven in a nondescript sack.

Food, art and music are some of the best things in life and when they merge together under one roof, it’s like Art Basel all year long and that’s why “R House” is one of my Favorite Things. Cheers! And, Happy Basel-ing.

Where:

R House Wynwood
2727 NW 2nd Avenue
Miami, Florida 33127

When:

Wednesday – Thursday: 3pm-10pm
Friday 3pm-3am, Saturday 12pm-3am & Sunday 11:30am-9pm

PS-they also have an amazing brunch that’s a real ‘DRAG’ — check-out their website for all the showstopping details.

www.rhousewynwood.com
reservations: 305-576-0201
email: info@rhousewynwood.com

Be Social
IG: @rhousewynwood
FB: @rhousewynwood
Twitter: @rhousewynwood

Nothing lasts forever. So live it up, drink it down, laugh it off, avoid the drama, take chances and never have regrets because at one point everything you did was exactly what you wanted.Marilyn Monroe
James Woodley Photography
Styling: Jackie Kay
Wardrobe: @HauteGlamBoutique
Emoji Clutch: A gift from @jackieKstyling
Hair & Make-up: Odett Hernandez
Digital Editor: Jessie Neft-Swinger
Editor: Matthew Auerbach

Topping It Off for 2018!

Topping It Off for 2018!

Topping It Off for 2018!

Topping It Off for 2018!

Topping It Off for 2018!

Topping It Off for 2018!

Topping It Off for 2018!

Topping It Off for 2018!

Topping It Off for 2018!

Topping It Off for 2018!

Topping It Off for 2018!

What:

Making my New Year’s Eve outfit extra-special with some magnificent millinery AND trying to breath new life into my usual “Auld Lang Syne” traditions.

Why:

GANGBUSTERS!

That’s how I’d describe my typical New Year’s Eve. At least over the past decade, but it’s probably not what you’re thinking. Especially if you’re taking GANGBUSTERS positively. Sure, yes, it’s a success, but barely.

My night usually goes something like this…

After hosting Deco Drive, I jump OFF the set and INTO a Channel 7 live truck, where I’m whisked away to the biggest party in Miami. I know, I know, it sounds kind of glamorous, but it’s sooooo NOT. At some point during our hurried drive, we hit cra-cra traffic and that’s when the nail-biting nightmare begins.

My heart races, my palms sweat and my mind goes through a million trouble-shooting scenarios. Not because I’m nervous to be on TV; it’s about what goes along with it…

Getting timely interviews, writing a comprehensive story about the night’s revelries and dealing with the boozers — who love giving mom a shout-out or yelling obscenities at me — while I’m on live TV (don’t be THAT person 😂).

Even worse, the journalism part has to happen BEFORE 10 o’clock.

Okay, okay, so I know what you’re thinking: if I get off the set at 8pm (when Deco’s over) and head to the party, it seems do-able. Challenging, but do-able.

The problem? Traffic, crowd congestion, DUI checks, finding the other crew who are set up and waiting for me. Tick tock, tick tock…

One year, I landed in front of the camera ONE minute before I was supposed to be on. My story wasn’t done and I was panting from running a few blocks to get to my crew (obviously before my bad knee situation. Although, honestly, when it comes to live TV, you run despite a bad knee.)

It was a disaster, but it’s live television and the show must go on. In fact, it always goes on, with or without you. I had some props (squeaky toys and some confetti) so I made due and for my next live-shot was able to string together something resembling a story.

Then…

Around 11:30pm, the news ENDS and the crew packs up (we call it break down) and we’re left deciding exactly “what” to do.

If I’m working with a photographer who has a family or significant other, usually he or she is motivated to make it home before the New Year countdown, but more often than not, we find ourselves stuck in traffic or just not physically able to wiggle our way out of the situation we’re already in.

And just like that, sitting in a nondescript news vehicle somewhere alongside I-95 or Biscayne Boulevard, the clock unceremoniously turns midnight. Uh, Happy New Year?

Listen, I’m not belly-aching (okay, maybe I am just a little,) it’s what I signed up for. You know, the whole journalist thing. You move away from home, work on holiday’s, early in the morning, late at night, on weekends, you travel more than a 747 and sometimes, you spend New Years Eve at the last place in the world you wanna be. I’ve made my peace with it so don’t feel sorry for me.

The good news is…

As I get older and have more seniority, I get SOME holidays off, but man, I always have wicked bad luck with New Years Eve. Last year, I actually spent it on a plane. Don’t ask. I tried doing a silent NYE countdown in my head, but the guy next to me was so busy telling me about his new rap video and how I should put it on Deco Drive, I couldn’t concentrate. Uh, Happy New Year?

This year, though…

The holiday falls on the weekend AND I happen to be OFF or at least my bosses haven’t told me I’m working (yet) and I’m not about to ask (don’t worry, they don’t read my blog. Hi Tom! Hi Geoff!)

In celebration, I’ve been planning like a mad “hatter”.

Caviar for everyone! Send a case of champagne to the station and don’t forget that all-important outfit so you can “Party Like It’s 1999” or in this case, 2018.

Am I over-doing it? Well, maybe the Caviar and champagne part, but as far as what I’m wearing? I’ll be “Topping It Off for 2018” because…

I want more than just a dress, more than just sparkly earrings, I want pizzaz, originality and of course, a special night off! That’s why I enlisted the help of Featherheart Designs by Dannielle Kukar; a skilled milliner, who knows how to take fashion to the next level with her fancy fascinators and sophisticated hats.

When I ask her why a woman should “Top It Off for 2018,” she coyly says: “It gives an outfit that special oomph; besides, you never forget a person in a hat.” And, I totally agree and believe you me, I don’t like fuss. I like ease and elegance and that’s exactly what her creations are. They slip on just as easy as they slip off. (BTW, You place a fascinator and you wear a hat.)

Dannielle, who’s a trained graphic artist, understands shapes, lines and composition. She started making fascinators as an outlet to get away from her computer. Now, if you dream it, she custom makes it. “I just follow the muse,” she says and she does so with the highest quality silks and materials. She also has pieces “ready to wear.”

This New Year’s Eve, I’m also dreaming of a sultry atmosphere with an Art Deco flair like the National Hotel (pictured in the blog.) I’m reminiscing, laughing and singing a new kind of “Auld Lang Syne” — one that’s far away from the time crunch of live television.

Even, if, for just one night…

Don’t miss Deco Drive at 7:30 & 11:30 p.m. as we “Top It Off for 2018” with Featherheart Designs by Dannielle. From how to wear a fascinator to fabulous hat trends, we’re showing off gorgeously glamorous headgear, because a fashionable and Happy New Year is one of my Favorite Things. Cheers!

Where:

Shop Dannielle’s creations at www.etsy.com/shop/featherheartdesigns

Be Social:
FB: @featherheartmillinery
IG: @featherheartdesigns

Shot on location at the uber glamorous …
National Hotel
1677 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, Florida 33139
www.nationalhotel.com

National Hotel Reservations: 305-532-2311

FB: @NationalHotel
IG: @nationalhotelmiami
Twitter: @NationalMiami

Hats are about emotion. It’s all about how it makes you feel. I like hats that make the heart beat faster.Philip Treacy

Topping It Off for 2018!

Topping It Off for 2018!

Hat-titudes by me #annieSS

James Woodley Photography
All fascinators by Featherheart Designs by Dannielle
shot on location at National Hotel
Styled by Jackie Kay
Hair & Make-up: Odett Hernandez
Digital Editor: Jessie Neft-Swinger
Editor: Matthew “Hat’s All, Folks” Auerbach

Shireen’s Spotlight: Stubborn Seed

Shireen’s Spotlight: Stubborn Seed

Shireen’s Spotlight: Stubborn Seed

Shireen’s Spotlight: Stubborn Seed

Shireen’s Spotlight: Stubborn Seed

Shireen’s Spotlight: Stubborn Seed

Shireen’s Spotlight: Stubborn Seed

What:

Dining at one of the most talked-about new hot spots on South Beach: “Stubborn Seed,” helmed by celebrity chef, Jeremy Ford, who won Bravo’s Top Chef Season 13.

Why:

If you like modern sophistication with a healthy dose of eccentric creativity, I have two words for you: “Stubborn Seed” — not only is the new eatery a place to see and be seen, it’s also a haven for the genuine foodie.

The best way to describe the cuisine is a “symphony of flavors”. It’s well thought-out, carefully planned and meticulously executed. The true crescendo, though, is when the food hits your mouth. And, like most music or any form of art, while you may not fully understand it, you can still enjoy and appreciate it.

In case you’re wondering, the name “Stubborn Seed” is a cloaked metaphor about the restaurant biz. More specifically, about the struggles, determination and passion it takes to succeed in it…

Which is something Chef Jeremy Ford knows a lot about. Despite having huge success on a major reality show, his extensive cooking knowledge has been won the hard way. In and out of kitchens since the age of 14, Jeremy has slowly worked his way up the proverbial food chain.

And you might say, he’s finally arrived…

“Stubborn Seed” is an effortlessly chic experience, with warm lighting, a predominant bar and (my favorite part) an intimate dining room. At its center, a large glass window showcasing what’s going on in the kitchen. It’s not just about seeing the magic, it’s also about feeling like an extension of that creative process.

I started my Sunday night #Spotlight with the interesting and innovative “Desert Daisy” — a tequila-based drink with a spicy kick — made with yummy ingredients like beets, orange bell pepper, lime & habanero shrub. It’s served on ice in this really cool Earth Dome glass with a dusting of carrot habanero. It’s a pinky-lifting drink. #ImSoFancy

If you’re more of a do-it-yourself kind of person, the “Silver Dollar Old Fashioned” will definitely pay off. The drink, which arrives on a shiny silver tray, is pre-set with the perfect ingredients. With a choice of bourbon or whiskey (I did bourbon,) in-house seasonal bitters and golden simple syrup, pour your own personal measurements and mix! Or, if you’re like me, ask a professional! My server was a great sport…

Besides, the only thing I should be pouring is wine (I’m pretty decent at straight vodka, too.) Both drinks were amazing. Of course, I suggest the Desert Daisy for a lady and the Old Fashioned for a gentlemen. Neither disappoints and both are beautifully presented. Wait — who am I kidding? I drink like a sailor and would settle for both #StrongDrinksMakeMeHappy

From the menu, which is pretty straightforward & printed on paper (because it’s constantly changing,) I tried a piece of the complimentary warm bread with a side of garbanzo chili dip. It was sooooo soft (like buttah) and the dip had great texture and taste. If you want more, you can order it as an appetizer. Carbohydrates make my world go round, so for me, this is a must-try and believe me, it’s not a waste of space or calories.

I tried two appetizers — on the menu they’re presented as Raw / Snacks …

The “Hawaii Kajiki” (which is basically Blue Marlin) is a delicate blend of salty and savory, made with fermented chili, buttermilk, seaweed, sea grapes and asian pear. If you’re a fan of sashimi, you’ll love this.

And the “Smoked Foie Gras” — which is delicate and divine — is served with almonds, winter squash and quince. (Quince is kind-of like a fancy pear.) If you’ve never ventured into Foie Gras, this is definitely the place to do it. Plus, the presentation is filled with dramatic smokey goodness (the blog picture says it all.)

I also tried two mains — on the menu, they’re presented as Meats / Fish …

The “Slow Cooked Florida Snapper” was a foamy work-of-art, made with poblano cucumber lime, little neck clams, bitter lettuce & asian greens. It’s a carnival of light flavors worth trying; especially if you’re a fish lover.

Meat lover’s REJOICE! (Uh, that would be ME,) because the “Umami Short Rib” is amazeballs. Tender and tasty, it’s plated with trumpet mushrooms, heirloom carrots and miso mustard butter. I liked the balance of both dishes, but the ribs were so perfect, I almost proposed. #PrioritiesPeople

After Thanksgiving, you may not be game for dessert, but don’t ignore whatever it is they’re serving. I thoroughly enjoyed the “Stout Cake” with caramelized apples and ginger ice cream. It wasn’t too sweet, but it was indeed tasty. Who knew beer could be so fluffy and fantastic? (Said the girl who prefers vodka.)

If you’re looking for something different, interesting and incredibly provocative, “Stubborn Seed” is not only set to impress, it’s positioning itself as one of the best restaurants in the Magic City and to think it’s just getting started…that’s why it’s one of my Favorite Things..

Where:

Stubborn Seed
101 Washington Avenue
Miami Beach, FL. 33139

When:

Sunday-Thursday: 6pm-11pm
Friday-Saturday: 6pm-12am
Monday: Closed

www.stubbornseed.com/about/
Reservations: 786-322-5211
reservations@stubbornseed.com

Be Social
IG: @stubborn_seed
FB: @stubbornseed
Twitter: @StubbornSeed

Sometimes when you’re in a dark place
you
feel like you’ve been buried,
but actually
you’ve been planted.Christine Caine
James Woodley Photography
Styling: Jackie Kay
Wardrobe: @Vchicstore
Clutch: @ZacPosen
Jewelry: @handmademiamibeach
Hair & Make-up: Odett Hernandez
Digital Editor: Jessie Neft-Swinger
Editor: Matthew “Fancy Pear” Auerbach

A Christmas Clutch

A Christmas Clutch

A Christmas Clutch

A Christmas Clutch

A Christmas Clutch

A Christmas Clutch

A Christmas Clutch

What:

The perfect holiday purse sure to add pizazz to any kind of party outfit and more importantly, you won’t have to sell a kidney to buy one.

Why:

I’ll never forget the first time I wrapped my stubby little fingers around a Judith Leiber handbag; I was absolutely mesmerized. The sparkles, detailing and quality — I was stunned. In fact, I don’t think I’d ever seen anything like it. I asked the woman behind the purse counter at Bergdorf Goodman: “How much?” She barked out a price so astronomical, I almost passed out. After a deep sigh…

I carefully placed the bedazzled clutch back into her already outstretched hand and fled the swanky department store like a fashion criminal. As I pushed through the heavy revolving doors, the brutal NYC winter wasn’t the only thing that slapped me in the face. My mother’s voice did, too..

Even though she lived in New Mexico, I could hear her like she was standing right next to me on 5th Avenue: “You know, Shireen, if you have to ask, you can’t afford it.” My mom used to do that a lot when I was young, give me what she called “tidbits of wisdom,” which were usually met with a dramatic eye-roll or better yet, an impressive lip sync. When I became a teenager, I’d memorized all the tricks in her bag, so when she droned on, I could silently mouth her advice verbatim.

After that humiliating Bergdorf Goodman moment…

I found myself in the same situation; albeit, a few years later. This time, a dazzling clutch called to me from the window of a chi-chi hair salon on the Upper East Side. It was so awe-inspiring, I stopped dead in my tracks, swung open the salon door and asked if I could see the pretty purse up-close. I was determined to buy this one.

“Is it a Leiber?” I asked quietly.

As the receptionist unearthed it from its glass case, she blurted out: “No, but it may as well be for the price!” Sweat beaded on my upper lip as she passed the purse off to me like a sloppy football play. “Isn’t it gorgeous?,” she purred in her thick Long Island accent. “How much?” I asked, like someone who was about to get hit. “For you? Two-thousand.”

I stared at her briefly, handed it back and finally realized my mother was on to something…

That day, I decided to bury my whimsically wonderful dream of owning a fashionable, high-quality, exquisitely beaded bag. Instead, I settled for clutches that were more like: “it’ll get by in the dark if no one inspects it.” I don’t wanna be a total naysayer; I mean, over the years I’ve had some pretty good ones (a few I’ve even worn in the light of day,) but that Leiber? Man, that thing haunts me like a “Ghost of Christmas Past”…

That is, until a few weeks ago.

Let me back up a little to tell you exactly how “A Christmas Clutch” came into my life. When I get blog submissions, I divide them into five categories: YEZZZZZ, yes, maybe, no and NEVER EVER (even if I lived on the left side of Mars.) If the topic falls somewhere in-between “yes & maybe,” I usually ask the person/designer to send me a sample of the product/ fashion, not as a gift, as a way for me to make a solid judgement..

Come on, we all know how it goes these days: a decent camera, a few filters and a beauty app later and anything or anyone can look like a million bucks, but that’s not the TRUTH and telling the truth is imperative if you’re a journalist, even an entertainment one. (Full disclosure: I do like a good beauty app.)

Unfortunately, I’ve learned the “buyer beware” lesson the hard way. Don’t get me started on the products and fashions that have missed the mark. It’s an on-line epidemic fed by social media and solidified by “product exchange” by social media “influencers.”(Fake followers, etc.) Sometimes it works, but a lot of the times, it just doesn’t. QUALITY IS KEY and buyers remorse sucks for all of us.

It was a rainy morning when I first opened the medium-sized box from “The LimeLight Collection.” I was skeptical, but curious. I had seen a few photos of their purses and they looked pretty legit, but the aforementioned paragraph kept me from becoming a true believer and there was that whole Bergdorf thing, too.

Then, it happened…

“A Christmas Clutch” — lit up my life like the noon day sun. First, though, I took it out of its sleek black container that gave way to a soft, velvety pouch and carefully slid out the most glamorous, eye-popping purse (move over, Judith Leiber, there’s a new fashion sheriff in town.) It felt good, it looked great and I was INCREDIBLY IMPRESSED.

Note to self: call the brainchild behind “The LimeLight Collection” ASAP.

I’ve never met Ebony Daniels Sanon in person, but when we talked over the phone the following day, she was warm, direct and affable.

Ebony described “The LimeLight Collection” as “daring, classy and unique.” What’s more, she told me they had more than just holiday flair. She insisted: “You can wear them anytime, anywhere and with anything.”

Then came the question I was dreading, but HAD to ask: “How much?” Without hesitation, Ebony happily shared: “Around two hundred dollars.” She didn’t know it, but on the other end of the line, I was smiling wide like a Cheshire Cat.

Ebony knows what women want and it’s not just an amazing clutch, it’s about the experience of it and how a trend can hold its maturity; eventually becoming a classic. When that happens, “A Christmas Clutch” can easily find a permanent place in your closet.

Handmade, inspected to perfection and one-of-a-kind, “The LimeLight Collection” definitely made one of my most elusive fashion dreams come true and that’s why it’s one of my Favorite Things. Happy Thanksgiving!

Where:

Shop the collection here: www.thelimelightcollection.net

Be Social:
FB: @TheLimeLightCollection
IG: @thelimelightcollection
Twitter: @LimeLightColl

Move like you move
Oh, dance for the night
Everyone’s turned to watch you
Hold the spotlight.Alex Parks
James Woodley Photography
All holiday clutches by “The LimeLight Collection”
Peach Dress @Vchicstore – Purple Velvet Dress @bcbgsouthbeach & Green Peacock Dress @laundrybyshelli
Hair & Make-up: Odett Hernandez
Digital Editor: Jessie Neft-Swinger
Editor: Matthew “Captain Clutch” Auerbach

Shireen’s Spotlight: Mignonette

 Shireen’s Spotlight: Mignonette

 Shireen’s Spotlight: Mignonette

 Shireen’s Spotlight: Mignonette

 Shireen’s Spotlight: Mignonette

 Shireen’s Spotlight: Mignonette

 Shireen’s Spotlight: Mignonette

 Shireen’s Spotlight: Mignonette

What:

An early dinner at one of the best oyster & seafood bars in Miami: Mignonette, the Uptown location.

Why:

I’ve always been a big fan of Danny Serfer…

If you open Uber Eats on my iPhone, his restaurant, “Blue Collar”, is the first thing that pops up. I love that place, including the fact that it’s attached to a somewhat shady hotel. You can’t beat the food, though, it’s freaking genius and when I drive by on the weekends, there’s a line snaking around the building for brunch. It’s got major food moxie and Miami loves it.

Danny’s not only a great chef, he REALLY knows food. Anything that comes out of his kitchen is made with thought-provoking creativity and an innate sensibility. What’s more, he does it without all the snobbery that typically comes along with the “foodie culture” in South Florida.

In other words, he doesn’t look down on people like me who don’t have a full grasp on all the cheeses in the world or where pink peppercorn is grown, which sometimes is in the grassy area of the parking lot at his latest restaurant, Mignonette (the Uptown location.) It’s a special place that reminds me of something you’d see in Brooklyn or even Manhattan’s west side.

The 40’s-style diner car (which has been some sort of greasy spoon since the 80’s) has been easily re-purposed into a seafood lover’s paradise, with tiled floors, cushy booths and a long bar that reaches all the way across the dining room. Its rotating seafood menu is on a nostalgic marquee above the kitchen and features what’s fresh for the day. More specifically, oysters.

From the raw bar, I started #Spotlight with a dozen West Coasters from Washington Sate (served with fresh lemon, cocktail & mignonette sauce.) Though smaller than East Coast oysters, they’re just as tasty. The fluted shells make for a sweeter, plumper meat.

Our server paired the platter with a delicious white wine from France (Sancerre from the Loire valley.) I also tried it with some champagne (Voirin-Jumel Brut.) A girl can never go wrong with bubbly and oysters.

One of the best appetizers at Mignonette Uptown is the Buffalo Scallops. Not only is it beautifully plated (with gorgonzola, crisp chicken skin and hot sauce,) it tastes phenomenal.

It’s the first dish my photographer, James and I, have actually fought over since starting the blog (and we’ve been doing this awhile.) For the record, James doesn’t even like scallops, but apparently, he’s a changed man. #UltimateFoodCompliment

The popular appetizer is perfect when paired with a super-light Muscadet (Domaine Des Trois Toits.) Don’t worry if you don’t know your way around a wine menu; the servers are extremely helpful with suggestions.

If you have more of a savory palette, like I do, Smoked Oysters served with creme fraiche, housemade jalapeño hot sauce and baked saltines won’t disappoint. A sip or two of the 2015 Tabalas Creek, Patelin de Tablas Blanc, will bring out the salty, smoked-filled goodness. 😊

I’ve heard through the “food vine” Mignonette’s Lobster Roll (dripped in drawn butter, served on a Portuguese roll with a heaping pile of fries) is the BEST thing on the menu and for the record, I agree. How good is it? Put it this way, it’s now on my “dead woman walking” food list. I tried it with a Banshee 2016 Chardonnay from the Sonoma Coast. Hmmm…Lord have mercy! I can’t wait to go back for more (wine & lobster.)

If you love fresh fish, there’s always a special of the day or you can go with a mainstay like Faroe Island Salmon, served with yummy orzo in a saffron broth. For this dish, we switched to a light Chinon Cabernet.

If you’re more adventurous and like trying a bit of everything, the Fish Stew (Bouillabaisse) is loaded with shrimp, clams, mussels, octopus and white fish. Julia Child would be proud; it was one of the late iconic chef’s favorite plates and tough to make. And good news: you can pair it with pretty much any drink.

Last but not least, you won’t forget to eat your veggies after you taste Mignonette’s famous herbivore dish. You choose four greens and/or starches from a diverse list, creating your own plate geared toward personal taste and/or diet restrictions.

I had beets with blue cheese and hazelnuts, roasted cauliflower, charred sweet potatoes and grilled asparagus. I’m not one to go on about vegetables, but they really are the bomb-dot-com. I prefer meat, but these were surprisingly delicious.

And, drumroll please….

Pastry Chef Devin Braddock treated James and I to her amazing Valrhona Chocolate Hazelnut Pie, snuggled into something called: Devin’s Magic shell (it’s served with malted ice cream.) It was WOW x2. A close second? Her extra moist Red Velvet Cake. #HeavenInMyMouth

For me, Mignonette Uptown is a no-brainer when it comes to really fresh, high quality seafood served in a laid-back, unpretentious atmosphere. Plus, it’s not every day one gets to break bread (or in this case, crack a shell or shuck an oyster) in a really cool retro diner car and that’s why it’s one of my Favorite Things. Cheers!

Where:

Mignonette (Uptown)
13951 Biscayne Boulevard
North Miami Beach, Florida 33181

When:

Lunch ~ Monday-Sunday 11:30am-3pm
Dinner ~ Sunday-Thursday 5:30pm-10pm, Friday & Saturday 5:30pm-11pm

*Worth mentioning — Mignonette Uptown’s amazing Happy Hour which is daily 5:30-7pm & 10pm until close. You get 25 percent off all bottles of wine and oysters start at $1 (bar seating only.)

www.mignonettemiami.com

305-705-2159

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FB: @mignonettemia
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If you don’t love life you can’t enjoy an oyster; there is a shock of freshness to it and intimations of the ages of man, some piercing intuition of the sea and all its weeds and breezes. They shiver you for a split second.Eleanor Clark
James Woodley Photography
Styling: Jackie Kay
Wardrobe: @bcbgsouthbeach
Clutch: @Dennisham_Designs
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Digital Editor: Jessie Neft-Swinger
Editor: Matthew “Aw, Shucks” Auerbach