In a perpetually sultry climate, true Miamians brace as the even warmer summer months come. Meanwhile, the best chefs in town understand their foodie acolytes don’t want to sacrifice discerning tastes just because heat and humidity are taking over the town. That’s why their menus are covered with fresh and seasonal ingredients, uplifting flavors and refreshing twists on classics. Our selection of cold dishes making appearances at restaurants throughout the city is guaranteed to stimulate the most sophisticated palates without letting summer’s swelter get the best of anyone.
LOBSTER ROLL AT PB STEAKEven without easy access to the historic harbors of New England, lobster lovers can sate their crustacean cravings right here, in Miami Beach’s hip Sunset Harbor neighborhood. The buttered potato bun of chef José Mendín’s mini lobster roll is jam-packed with succulent chunks of fresh Maine lobster doused with his signature Asian flair, which comes in the form of yuzu dijonnaise, a creamy blend of Dijon mustard, mayonnaise and yuzu juice. Dotted with celery bits, fresh parsley and lemon zest, the sandwich is as hearty as it is refreshing. (PB Steak, 1787 Purdy Avenue, Miami Beach; 305-695-9550; pbsteak.com.)
WHITE GAZPACHO AT MICHY’S Consider it chef Michelle Bernstein’s ode to classic Spain. Her white gazpacho is created the old-school way, and that’s no joke. It’s made with almond meal rather than the more familiar tomatoes, which the Spanish actually didn’t discover until their New World conquest brought them to America. Bernstein’s take, a velvety combination of English cucumbers, salted Spanish Marcona almonds, shallots, seedless green grapes, house made vegetable broth, sherry vinegar and dry sherry wine, is at once sweet, savory, nutty and cooling. The garnish is abstract but aromatic, highlighting several of the dish’s primary ingredients like sliced green grapes, crushed almonds and fresh dill. (Michy’s, 6927 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami; 305-759-2001; michysmiami.com.)
STEAK TARTARE AT TORO TORO The Steak Tartare at Toro Toro, the steakhouse in the InterContinental Miami, is made with finely diced carne cruda Filet Mignon, seasoned with rich chipotle, sun-dried tomatoes, capers and a delicate balsamic reduction. Chef Richard Sandoval, who’s known for spreading Pan-Latin cuisine to exotic destinations like Dubai, considers it a natural extension of the impressive menu that showcases the prime, high-quality meat he sources. Cooling slivers of avocado accompany the tartare to offset the heat from the Mexican chipotle. Sandoval’s favorite component? The crunchy slices of poppy seed bread. He and his team work diligently to make the bread in-house, freeze it, shave it into thin slices and then bake it into a cracker form. He says a lot of heart goes into the preparation, setting this dish apart from others bearing the same name. (Toro Toro, InterContinental Miami, 100 Chopin Plaza, Miami; 305-372-4710; torotoromiami.com)
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COBIA CEVICHE AT THE DISTRICT Fresh and local ingredients shine on the plates flying out of chef Horacio Rivadero’s relatively new kitchen in the burgeoning Buena Vista enclave, just north of the Design District. While there’s certainly no shortage of authentic Peruvian ceviches in town these days, Rivadero’s cobia version is a must-try as temperatures in the city peak. Rivadero, named a 2014 James Beard Foundation semifinalist for Best Chef South, cures the raw white fish, known for its firmness and flavor, in a unique watermelon citrus sauce, mixed with cucumbers, basil leaves, red onions and hot Fresno peppers. The fusion of the dish’s key flavors—watermelon, cucumber, basil— becomes a powerful tonic that helps fend off the swelling and puffiness caused by summer’s relentless heat. It’s served in a hearty bowl you won’t want to share. (The District, 190 NE 46th Street, Miami; 305-573-4199; thedistrictmiami.com.)
QUINOA CAPRESE AT LA MAR La Mar by Gastón Acurio, the year’s most highly anticipated restaurant, opened a couple of months ago at the Mandarin Oriental on Brickell Key, with the world-renowned Peruvian toque on the marquee and his protégé, executive chef Diego Oka, in the kitchen. Not surprisingly, the team makes indisputable art out of the decade’s it-grain: quinoa. And why not? The protein-packed power seed, like both Acurio and Oka, hails from Peru. The menu’s quinoa caprese pairs red quinoa with sweet heirloom tomatoes, and fresh and creamy burrata cheese imported from Italy, whose influence on Peruvian cuisine has been profound. The “novo-Andean” dish is dressed in citrusy vinaigrette spiked with fresh parsley and ají amarillo. Bright and clean but not spicy, it complements anything on the menu—or stands stridently on its own. (La Mar by Gastón Acurio at the Mandarin Oriental, 500 Brickell Key Drive, Miami; 305-913-8358; mandarinoriental.com.)