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Essensia's Spa Cuisine Clean, Needs Tightening; 3 .5 Stars for Shake Shack

Lee Klein visits Essensia Restaurant & Lounge and wonders, "How can it be that a relatively low-profile establishment, located on a nondescript stretch of Collins Avenue and tucked away in the back of the Palms Hotel & Spa lobby, fills so many of those chairs?" Klein comes to a conclusion quickly, saying "The answer probably lies in the quality of the dining experience, which is solid — even while the spa cuisine needs to be more tightly executed." Although the "cuisine is tagged 'the pure essence of taste,'" Klein says that "is the sort of boastful appraisal better left, I think, to restaurant critics." Now to the food. "Of the seven appetizers and six salads to consider as starting points, none better exemplifies Essensia's natural approach than organic orchid petal salad." Appetizers "appealed in a likewise manner," but "main courses were more problematic." Wild Alaskan halibut was "overcooked and undreseasoned," while herb-coated free-range chicken breast was "full flavored and juicy" Desserts focus "on delicacy, not decadence," but with hefty prices, "it adds up to an expensive meal." [MNT]

Victoria Pesce Elliott generously gives Shake Shack 3.5 stars this week thanks to "truly exceptional hamburgers, pretty good fries and--woohoo!--a selection of wines and beers that is beautifully suited to these hot, juicy babies." Although VPE has experienced waits from 10 to 25 minutes to get her food on subsequent visits, "it's never been boring. We've enjoyed watching locals get into the Shack culture." What worked: basic cheeseburger with "exceptional quality of the meat, a mix of sirloin and brisket devised by NY purveyor Pat LaFrieda," signature Shack Burger "along the lines of a West Coast In-N-Out Burger," "amazingly puffy, buttery, grilled potato buns," "first rate toppings," "all American cheese," "usually hot, golden and snappy fries" that "taste more like well-cooked Ore-Idas," and "superb drinks," among a few other things. What didn't work? "Too-big-to-get-your-mouth-around Shack Stack," "unimpressive Chicago-style Vienna hotdogs," "Velveeta-like cheese sauce for fries," and "too sweet and/or too thick to suck through a straw shakes." []

Shake Shack

1111 Lincoln Road, , FL 33139 (305) 434-7787 Visit Website