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Canyon Ranch Grill - Miami Beach


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Canyon Ranch Grill - Miami Beach

Frodnesor | Dec 20, 2008 08:15 PM

OK, let me admit that I'm more than a bit skeptical of any restaurant that keeps a calorie count of each item on the menu. To me, it's a bit like the free hare krishna lunch - you're getting a message that you didn't necessarily ask for or want along with your meal. But (again, like the hare krishna lunch) if the food's good, well, why not? Life can't be all pork belly and foie gras, and the new Canyon Ranch resort is right in our neighborhood, so we decided to give it a try. I was actually very pleasantly surprised by the food.

The Canyon Ranch resort is in North Beach, around 69th & Collins Avenue, in a gigantic space backing onto the ocean. The restaurant is a nice-looking space done up mostly in earth tones, with mobiles of wood and agate slices hanging all around it. There's a huge dining room space, an open kitchen separate from the main dining room with bar seating around it, and also lots of outdoor seating that backs out onto the beach (the outdoor space may not be open yet). From within the restaurant you can't see much of the ocean in the dark, but during the day the view must be fantastic.

So as for that menu. There are maybe a half dozen or so ceviches and tiraditos (a good idea for health-conscious eating), a few hot apps and a few salad-type items, maybe 8 or so mains, and a few vegetable choices. The menu had been pared down from the one that I'd previously seen in circulation ->

And yes, the calorie count, fat, protein, fiber, etc. of each item are listed on the menu, and our server informed us that hotel guests are supposed to stay within 500 calories per meal. I immediately made sure to clarify that we were NOT staying at the hotel. But I did try to stick with the spirit of the thing, which was not so hard because everything on the menu is designed to be pretty healthy. I believe they said the menu was all-organic, and lots of the ingredients are sourced locally, many from Paradise Farms.

We started with a thai shrimp ceviche and a black bass tiradito, and had as entrees a quail, a bison tenderloin, seared tuna, and scallops, and also split an order of "cauliflower three ways". The flavors of the shrimp ceviche (actually not a true ceviche since the shrimp were poached) were indeed reminiscent of thai "jumping shrimp" with additions of grapefruit sections and matchsticks of jicama. The tiradito was thin slices of fish doused with lime and topped with slices of pickled jalapeno. Supposedly a smear of red miso was involved but its flavor was harder to pick up. Both good and fully flavored though Mrs. F didn't love the tiradito.

The quail entree was one weensy bird, nicely roasted with a sweet lavender-flavored glaze, along with some very whole-wheat-y tasting spaetzle, a roasted cippolini onion, and a couple very sweet dried figs, cooked with a sweet syrup. Good, though I thought the sauce was a little over-sweet. The bison tenderloin was a delicious piece of meat, served over a bed of polenta and a side of very tasty braised kale. The tuna dish was also quite nice, the loin seared (pretty well for Little Miss F though I'm sure they prefer to do it more rare) and served over a bed of nice veg (I saw some favas and peas in there, not sure what else) and a tasty herb pistou. The scallops were also very good, served over a farro risotto with beets. And the cauliflower dish was really, really delicious. It's done (1) as a puree flavored with chive, (2) roasted in the oven till its gets a little browned and caramelized (my favorite method for preparing at home), with a "puttanesca" sauce strongly flavored with good olives, and (3) diced small and done "couscous style" with curry flavors.

Against my wishes, the kids decided to stick it out for dessert rather than go down the street to Dolce Vita for gelato. Frod Jr. saw "warm chocolate cake" and of course couldn't resist. Needless to say, it was a verrrry small portion. Little Miss F had a chocolate sorbet which was very dark and very chocolately (mostly with the flavor of cocoa powder).

The wine list was more of the carefully selected rather than encyclopedic variety, and also focused on organic and biodynamic wines. We had a Gachot-Monot Nuit St. George burgundy that drank absolutely beautifully, but I was disappointed to see after getting home that I'd paid about 3x retail.

One of the ways that they keep the calorie count down is to control portion size, with 4 small shrimp and 4 strips of fish for the apps, one little quail for the entree (though the other entrees were pretty generous portions, the tenderloin being a perfectly reasonable size, the tuna being a generous serving, and 3 fat sea scallops). But while you may be on a diet, alas your budget will not. $10-14 for the ceviches seems perfectly reasonable in the abstract, but feels high given the size of these portions; add when I compare this quail at $22 to the one I can get at Red Light for $10, well, you know where I'm going for my next quail. But having said that, I was very pleasantly surprised that every dish we had, while prepared with an eye toward health, was fully flavored and genuinely tasty - a good meal you can feel good about.

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