Postcard From Tom: Miami

Sunday, December 3, 2006

Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema's monthly report from the road.

The new crop of restaurants in Miami is about to be joined by an import from New York: Star chef David Bouley is expected to set sail this month with Evolution in the Ritz-Carlton in South Beach.

DYNAMO CAFE (1001 Washington Ave., Miami Beach, 305-535-1457)

Good food in a gift shop? It's possible at the Wolfsonian museum, where one of many attractions is a handsome cafe surrounded by books and designed to reflect the 19th century. The choices on the small menu are more modern; my picks run to a hearty sandwich of Spanish ham and manchego cheese and a pretty salad of curried chicken on couscous. French press coffee and sublime fruit tarts sweeten any visit, as do the vintage movies that play nonstop. Salads and sandwiches $8.50-$14.

MICHY'S (6927 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, 305-759-2001)

Named for Michelle Bernstein, one of the city's top chefs, Michy's indulges diners with a world of flavors offered in both half- and entree-size portions. Head for Moroccan-spiced lamb spare ribs, cheese-and-ham croquettes, duck confit and a baked Alaska that tastes of the tropics (the dessert is made with dulce de leche ice cream and passion fruit salsa). Located in Miami's emerging Upper East Side, the dining room was designed by Bernstein and her sister. "It reflects my personality," the chef says of the funky tangerine-colored banquettes, seashell lights and thrift-store chairs. Small plates $7-$16.

RESTAURANT BRANA (276 Alhambra Circle, Coral Gables, 305 -444-4595)

A protege of the esteemed Florida chef, Norman Van Aken, Jeffrey Brana seduces the food and wine crowd with local ingredients, thoughtful combinations and a restrained cooking style in Coral Gables's financial district. The evidence surfaces in every bite of flounder perfumed with lemon leaves, Key West shrimp flattered with avocado sauce and crushed hazelnuts and a pot roast made elegant with local spinach and potatoes cooked in duck fat. Entrees $31-$45.

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