Rockhouse Restaurant

West End Road, Negril, Jamaica • 1.876.957.4373 • http://www.rockhouse.com/eat
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Nestled on a rocky cliff in Negril sits one of the finest, most beautiful hotels on the island of Jamaica. And within the hotel also lies the best meal I had during three days of breakfast, lunch and dinner. That meal being a lunch in the sun, overlooking the Caribbean Sea whilst sipping on a Humming Bird. No, not the actual bird. That’d be just gross. It’s the name of a cocktail they serve, made with banana, coffee and rum cream. Ya mon!

So skip the rum punch on this one. The bird is the word. And so is the fish, meaning the blackened snapper salad and the jerk calamari. Both have nice kick and great depth of flavor.

Rockhouse is not without its misses, however. I found the akee dip with plantain chips and the fish tacos to be somewhat bland. And while I would also lump the rum cake for dessert in the whatevs bucket too, if you ask them to serve it with vanilla ice cream it rallies strong.

3 teeth

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Restaurant Michael Schwartz & Coffee Bar

1775 Collins Ave. Miami Beach, FL 33139 • (305) 534-6300 raleighhotel.com

RMS Octopus 2

The Raleigh Hotel is such a find in the heart of the deco district. Not as pricey as its neighbors and more low key, but sporting one of the best pools on Collins Avenue.

And while the restaurant may not be a destination unto itself like the headliners at so many other hotels, including its SBE Hotel siblings the SLS (The Bazaar) and The Redbury (Cleo), it still manages to serve up some pleasers.

Going by day part, they do quite well for breakfast. Either at the sit down tables outside by the pool or even at the grab and go Coffee Bar near the front. So if you’re aiming for a quick bite I definitely recommend the honey bran muffin and a glass of the freshly blended Rejuvenator. It’s carrot, ginger and apple and orange I believe. It’s also quite rejuvenating. After three of them I’m now in my twenties.

And as for the muffin, it has that perfect balance of sweetness and earthiness, a little on the sticky side, but moist as can be, speckled with juicy, plump raisins. On the downside, do not take the bait on the apple muffin. It is the Danny DeVito to the honey bran’s Arnold Schwarzenegger. That’s a Twins reference, in case my pop culture illustration is going completely lost on you.

As for sit down options, the Greek yogurt and honey with granola is surprisingly good. Having recently been in Greece I can attest with some modicum of experience that this yogurt is the closest thing I’ve had in the states to the way it is in mother Greece.

The other breakfast pleaser was the brioche French toast with caramelized bananas. It’s a very tough dish to screw up in all fairness, but if there was one surefire way to do it, it’s not soaking the bread through and through. Well, I’m happy to report that there is no infraction here. Dish nailed.

As for lunch, I found the food to be a little weaker. The grilled fish tacos are simple and fresh, which is enough to make them worthy of ordering, but there was nothing inventive or memorable about them. I would say the same about the tuna sandwich, although it did need a little Dijon as a kick in the ass. The only out and out miss was the swordfish sandwich. A bit too dry and a lotta bit too blah. But all in all, solid pool food if you happen to be staying in the hotel, which is nice, not having to make a special trip just for lunch.

Never had dinner there, but considering how friggin’ awesome that octopus looks, maybe that’ll be an amendment to this post the next time I visit Miami.

3 teeth

The Mermaid Inn

568 Amsterdam Ave. New York, NY 10024(212) 799-7400 themermaidnyc.com

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Hi. My name is Ferocious Foodie. And I too am a Mermaid lover. In fact, I don’t think I’ve loved a mermaid this much since Ariel, The Little Mermaid. From the first bite (well, technically “sip”) to the last, everything was great.

The wife and I both started with cocktails. I partook a pair of Pink Dahlias, which sounds more fru fru than it is. It’s actually a spicy margarita with grapefruit. Tart, refreshing, spicy and perfecty. Can’t recall what the wife had because I’m a typical, self-absorbed male, but I know she liked it because I asked… So I’m not a total schmuck.

Everything else we shared, to a symphony of simultaneous foodgasms. The octopus was tender with a nice contrasting char for texture. And it was dressed with wonderful flavors that netted out a touch sweet, but in a good way.

The oysters were fresh an delicious. We did the Kusshi, which, if you’ve never had them are so sweet you’d think they were candy. And the Mermaid Cove, which were delightfully creamy. Great combo for those who don’t dig on the brine.

For entrees we split the lobster “sandwich” and the fish tacos and the reason “sandwich” is in quotes is because it’s a lobster roll. Not sure why they don’t call it that. I’m assuming there’s no copyright infringement since about 1000 other places call it that, but whatever. Maybe that’s not how they roll… oof. Even I cringed on that one. But cast your cringes aside, because the roll/sandwich thingy is up there with the Ultimates. Quite handily better than Luke’s down the street and as good as Pearl Oyster Bar. Yes, I said it. Just not quite as big as Pearl’s though, making it a bit pricier per ounce. But like Fancy Feast, it’s worth it. And truth be told, Mermaid’s fries are better.

The fish tacos were mighty fine as well, adorned with pickled jalapenos and a side of handy fresh made salsa. Together they made for sloppy, fishy bliss.

And finally, for dessert, there is no menu. They simply bring you an espresso cup filled with chocolate pudding and call it a night. No charge. Just as a thank you. Well, Mermaid, thank YOU for a wonderful meal. My only regret is having not tried you sooner.

5 teeth

Gordon Ramsay

The London West Hollywood • 1020 N San Vicente Blvd. West Hollywood, CA 90069(310) 358-7788 • thelondonwesthollywood.com/dining-en.html
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Let’s just say Gordon should spend a little time yelling at himself after this performance.

We had a tasting menu and about the only thing I can say was excellent was the amuse bouche: An espresso cup filled with chestnut soup and milk froth. After that, it was a complete nosedive.

The first course was the most tasteless salad I have ever had in my life. Seriously. This is not an overstatement. I’ve had airplane salads with more flavor than that. Absolutely pathetic. Everyone at the table was dumbfounded that they could actually serve something so bland and uncreative at that price.

Then came the oxtail jam ravioli, which sounded promising, but the sum of the parts didn’t equal much. Capo and Via Veneto both destroy this meek attempt at an Italian staple.

After that I split mains with a friend. I had the salmon, again, just eh. He had the filet mignon and it was good, but not great.

And last but not least was the hazelnut dessert- which was also good, but not jaw-dropping. In fact, the only thing, apart from the soup that was a standout was the wine. So kudos to sommelier and shame on Gordon.

So why not one knife you ask? Well, for dinner it most certainly deserves the snub, but if you happen to be doing breakfast, it’s actually pretty damn good. In fact, the eggs benny with proscuitto is quite stellar. As is the raisin walnut bread. Perhaps the best bread I’ve ever had. Bought an entire loaf on the spot to take back with me to New York. That said, Gordon doesn’t bake it. He buys it. And his waffles suck hard.

Additionally, for lunch, his fish tacos are also excellent. But his sweet tomato salad is just sad. So it would appear that Gordon  can’t seem to make a salad to save his soul.

2 teeth