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Monday, August 27, 2012

Bourbon Steak: Shanks for the memories

Duck fat fries, truffle popcorn, killer cocktails, foie genius, and of course some of the best steak in Miami...what was I thinking?  I mean, I really don't know how I waited so long to give Bourbon Steak a try!
   The Turnberry Isle is a stunning, immaculate resort in Aventura, located just behind the infamous Aventura mall.  Just inside the hotel's lobby you see Bourbon Steak...dim, sexy, and absolutely stunning.  On my first visit, we arrived a bit early to take advantage of happy hour at the bar (Monday through Friday from 5 to 8), and immediately my eyes we drawn to the Aviation.  A mixture of Plymoth Gin, Crème de Violette, Maraschino, and fresh lemon, this lavender lovely smells a bit like Provincial France (a result of the Crème de Violette).  A classic cocktail that has gone awry many a time in the wrong hands, prepared with the masterful skill of the Bourbon steak bartender it was smooth perfection.  To my everlasting delight, while we imbibed they also brought over some complimentary truffle popcorn.  I should first warn that I'm so addicted to popcorn I practically consider it a food group, but this also means I am super critical of bland, burned, or over-seasoned varieties.  Thankfully, Bourbon Steak again hit the nail on the head.  While some of my companions have bemoaned the lack of a dominant truffle flavor, I happen to think it is just enough without being overwhelming.  I find it really hard not to fill up on the stuff!
   Since it just so happens to be Miami Spice season, we were able to partake in the Spice menu (in which you pay a set price for choice of appetizer, entree, and dessert).  If you haven't tried Miami Spice and you live in Miami, you are seriously missing out. Some restaurants are definitely more generous than others, and some menus are downright boring, but every now and then you get lucky with a killer deal on that pricey restaurant you've been dying to try.  In my opinion, Bourbon Steak offers one of the best values, with generous portions of interesting options.
   Anyways, when you are seated in the main dining room, they also bring out a complimentary order of duck fat french fries with three different dipping sauces.  Unfortunately, I have not been able to get a clear picture, since our table always inhales them before I got the chance.  Among the seasoned fries, one is BBQ, one is onion salt seasoned, and the third option is seasoned some kind of herb (I think rosemary).  As for the dipping sauces, there is some kind of ketchup variation, a creamy onion aioli, and then a third sauce I'm not quite sure of.  Among the trio of options I think the table consensus was that the onion aioli was our favorite, along with any of the savory rosemary duck fat fries.
      For the first course I always go with the corn ravioli with brown butter and chanterelle mushrooms.  It sounds simple but the layers of flavor in this dish are anything but, with a surpsingly assertive boldness from the corn blending with the coolness of the ravioli filling.
I have also been able to coerce one of my dining partners into sharing his wahoo appetizer, which I must say was incredibly fresh and flavorful!  With local wahoo, Haas avocado, tomato gelée and pickled onion, the fish melted harmoniously into the creamy avocado puree and the gelée added a synergystic zing of flavor.
Next up is a choice that isn't part of the Spice menu, a masterpiece of foie perfection that happens to be one of the restaurant's specials.  It is a playful version of PB and J done two ways.  The first preparation involves  a huge slab of voluptuous foie perched on a duck fat biscuit, which is then doused with a sweet and tart cherries jubilee.  If that weren't enough, the chef accompanies this indulgent treat with a foie parfait of sorts, with layers of whipped foie and "jam," topped with oats, which was also served with with toasted brioche.  A far more opulent version of your standard lunch sandwich, the smooth creaminess of the foie spread lusciously over the slightly golden brioche.  It is a masterpiece of foie proportions, and I highly recommend trying any foie dish from Executive Chef Gabriel Fenton.  He is truly a expert of calibrating the ideal composition of this luxurious treasure.
The 60z. prime New York Strip Pavé is my typical Spice entree selection of choice.  Accompanied by roasted eggplant, heirloom tomatoes, black garlic, and caper vinaigrette, it is single-handedly the most juicy and hearty slab of meat I've had in a long while.  There is a gorgeous char on the outside, while the inside remains a dusky rose pink.  The beef itself is succulent and sops up the complimentary components quite well.  Alongside the main, you also have the option of choosing additional add-ons, and for a mere $10 extra, I highly recommend the Alaskan King Crab Béarnaise, an ethereal accompaniment full of tender crab meat in a beguilingly indulgent sauce.

The first time I went for dessert (for my birthday dinner), I chose the pecan butterscotch parfait with Snickerdoodle crumbs, and vanilla chantilly.  The rich parfait is so smooth and thick, it is on the verge of being custard, which plays of the Snickerdoodle crunch and pecan quite well.  It is the kind of fun that makes your inner child do cart-wheels, and yet, it is meticulously executed for the discerning adult palate.
I also have gotten the wild blueberry shortcake with ginger shortbread and local corn ice cream.  The shortbread kind of reminds me of a biscuit, but combined with the cream, the tart and sweet blueberries and the fabulous corn ice cream, the whole combination really works, and keeps the dish from being overly cloying.
     Meals at Bourbon are a spectacular progression of some truly phenomenal cuisine.
If all that food isn't enough, they also bring a final sweet bite, a little dark chocolate bourbon truffle "pop," to officially seal their fate as one of Miami's top restaurants.
I've also heard they have one of the best burgers in town, and I'm looking forward to heading back to give it a try at some point (during Miami Spice, it is pretty difficult to resist getting that menu)!  With creativity and culinary acumen, Chef Fenton is elevating steakhouses to new heights.  I mentioned the cocktails, but they really have quite the exceptional wine list as well.  Furthermore, our service is always beyond impeccable, and the staff go above and beyond to ensure that our experience is flawless (they even brought some truffle popcorn over to the table when I was seated before having a chance to snag some at the bar on my second visit).  Oh, and to really put the cherry on the sundae, the valet is free with validation from the restaurant!

Bourbon Steak is absolutely worth trying so make reservations and head to:

  Bourbon Steak at the Turnberry Isle
  19999 West Country Club Drive
  Miami, FL 33180
  (786) 279-6600
  Bourbon Steak (Turnberry Isle Hotel) on Urbanspoon

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