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Fawning Over The Forge Restaurant | Wine Bar; Smoke't Southern Kitchen & Tap Is On Fire

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[Photo/Simon Hare]
This week, Rochelle Koff reviews The Forge Restaurant | Wine Bar, where the scaffolding will soon come down to reveal the new exterior look, "signaling the end of a year-long, $10 million transformation of the iconic Miami Beach restaurant." While the "tuxedoed waiters are gone . . .the friendly new staff will pamper you like a VIP even if you order the burger (albeit ground Angus steak with lobster marmalade and a Bordeaux tasting). The excellent service extends to the classy 36-seat bar." And "while the A-listers can still splurge on a five-course meal and an $800 cab, the after work crowd can share $6 to $15 'snacks' and pay as little as $15 for a card to the Enomatic dispenser." As for the food? "Executive chef Dewey LoSasso has revived standards like the 'super steak' and iceberg wedge, but has also created an ambitious, intriguing menu with a playful tone that suit's The Forge's new style." What worked? A long list of things, apparently, including the "flavorful lobster, peanut butter and 'jelly' sandwich--a grown up snack; heavenly lobster bisque; perfectly textured wild mushroom risotto; sublime grilled double cut lamb chops; lovely mutton snapper; oh-so-good duck home fries; and banana fluffernutters," among other things. Not so great was a "bland whole grilled yellowtail snapper, over cheddar-ed cheese grits; and an unimpressive side of collard greens with blueberries. Bottom line? Three and a half stars. []

In his headline, Lee Klein says Smoke't serves "perfect barbecue." After a bit of an explanation on the nuances of BBQ, Klein says that "once you swallow the notion that Smoke't Southern Kitchen & Tap isn't italicized with authenticity, everything else goes down easy." Despite a few appetizer issues dried out cheese and pork on the onion rings and "something about mixing rice, avocado, and barbecue sauces [being] almost as frightening as mixing things up with a redneck," Klein notes that Smoke't "has clearly caught fire with the public . . . their formula: popular American fare, affordable pricing and--perhaps most importantly--a lively bar scene." Although smoking times for each item is noted on the menu, Klein says "There may have been a misprint . . for the four fat beef ribs we were served looked tasted as though they had been held in the oven for 120 hours." Making up for that were the St. Louis-style pork spare ribs which were "meaty and flavorful." Then there were the chicken and waffles, which "seems less like a soul food combo popularized at Roscoe's in Los Angeles than KFC's sequel to the Double Down." As for the sides, the "plusses outnumbered the minuses," and Klein gave kudos to the Jalapeno mac & cheese, the franks and beans with crisp onions, and the Jalapeno cornbread, which "is simply the finest around." Hush puppies, Brussels sprouts and baked potato, however, not so much. Bottom line: "If management can now tighten quality control, there's no reason the rising Smoke't won't continue to billow for a long time to come." [MNT]