Victoria Pesce Elliott has several problems with The Water Club. "For starters, it's huge--half the size of a pro football field . . . There's even a pool, an outdoor bar and occasional bikini contests." But the real problems "start with the front of the house staff, who seem to have been hired more for the way they fill a tank top than an order." After her dining companion gets groped by a hostess ("Am I in the wrong country if I think nonmedical personnel should neither touch customers nor comment on their physiques?"), VPE does award "Kudos to husband and wife chefs Andrea Curto-Randazzo and Frank Randazzo for crafting a casual and eclectic menu of appealing items," but, "We'd like it even better if the print weren't tiny and the floppy oversized, plastic coated menu had gotten the wipe down it needed."
Speaking of the named chefs, VPE scanned the "vast open kitchen for signs" of them on two visits and "saw neither." What worked? Three things: "a nice al dente bucatini with loads of seafood," "Thick steak fries," and "moist and springy chocolate pudding cake." The What Didn't Work column is a lot more comprehensive and includes a cold bowl of top necks and PEI mussels that arrived with "several smashed shells and empties," a "nicely juicy pan-seared salmon . . . that had some sort of run in with stinky propane that ruined its flavor," "sickly sweet, supremely chewy rib appetizer," and, well, more. Bottom line? "Now that their Miami Beach flagship, Talula, is closed, I expect they'll focus on whipping this 3-month old venue into shape. Just as soon as I get myself a boat or an invitation from one of my boating friends, I'll be back in my bikini to try the burgers." Two stars. [Miami.com]
Lee Klein checks into the iconic Miami Beach landmark The Forge---or, unofficially, The New Forge, which "looks quite different" than its previous incarnation. And "if the revamped decor doesn't convince you that things have changed, maybe the menu's quinoa pancake with fig marmalade will." Or "the lack of creamed spinach and pommes Lyonnaise will snap you out of your nostalgic steak-house reverie." New chef Dewey LoSasso "has always been a highly creative chef with a penchant for cleanly layering numerous ingredients and tastes onto each plate." That said, "crispy refreshing standards, such as the chopped salad and iceberg wedge, are still crowd pleasers." New items "such as an oyster po'boy or lobster peanut butter and jelly are more suitable as something to munch with your drink, as opposed to an introductory course to a substantial entree." About that PB&L: "It does not work at all; peanut butter obliterates the delicate crustacean." Most sought-after entrees are "the six cuts of proffered beef" while the "local mutton snapper stood out as the most tantalizing of the half-dozen seafood offerings." In desserts, the Fluffernutter "arguably makes the Forge the only posh restaurant in the world where one can both begin and end a meal with a course based on the peanut butter sandwich." Overall: "The restaurant likewise features some things old, new, borrowed (a couple of tricks from North One 10), and — well — let's say still shaky on execution. Yet there is no denying the Forge is back, and it matters once again." [MNT]