Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Big Pink: Oh how I missed you!

Hot, sunny, loud and fun are all perfect descriptions of Miami Beach. Nestled at the most southern point of Miami beach surrounded by restaurants, bars and lounges is the infamous South beach or Sobe to some. South beach, as I prefer to call it, is and in my opinion will always be the perfect winter escape. Hot weather, hot restaurants and even hotter people, what's not to love? Ocean drive can be a bit intimidating for first timers, the trick is to know what you want and be polite to the swarms of hostesses begging you to come eat. If you've never been to South beach then you may not know what I'm referring to. Ocean drive is the main street that runs along the beach in south beach, its home to many restaurants and hotels, it is also the back-drop to the movie Scarface. The sidewalk on Ocean drive is not only a passageway for pedestrians, it also serves as terraces for the many restaurants. As you walk along the sidewalk the many hostesses will hound you offering you drinks and food at a discount. Don't be fooled, the food might be discounted but somehow your meal is always way more than expected and don't forget the extra 18% gratuity that is always added to your bill, many times without even informing you.
One trick is to eat off Ocean and walk towards Collins or Washington where you will find even better eateries.
On my second day in Miami I found myself craving my second favourite off Ocean restaurant; Big Pink. It would be my favourite spot, but nothing really beats Joe's yStone Crab. As I walked to 2nd and Collins I couldn't help my excitement. Not only is the food fresh and properly prepared, their drinks are even better. On my first visit to Big Pink years ago, I had their frozen limeade; an alcoholic frozen pink lemon/limeade. It was refreshing, sweet and strong enough to get you a little buzzed, but sadly as I ordered one I was informed they had removed it from the menu. What a shame! I opted for the classic Margarita instead and was not disappointed one bit. Refreshing and yummy with the perfect blend of tequila and lime, almost as good as the limeade. They really should bring it back.

The menu at Big Pink is quite large, not only in size but in choices too. They serve breakfast all day, they call it "Breakfast anytime," and always have amazing creative specials. As I glanced over the menu, my waiter stopped by and informed me of the daily breakfast special, "red velvet pancakes or Oreo pancakes." I decided on lunch since I had already eaten breakfast and quickly ordered my favourite salad. The spicy Vietnamese beef steak salad is served chop style; chopped romaine, tomatoes, peanuts, sprouts, roasted green peppers and tender sliced steak cooked to your liking. The salad is served with two dressings; sriracha vinaigrette and a creamy dressing to balance the heat of the sriracha. Both are absolutely delicious! I first tried this salad a few years back and fell in love instantly. The salad is savoury, spicy and oh so flavourful. Each bite has many different flavours especially if you mix both dressings. Truly a delicious treat and considering it is a salad it’s not so bad on the waist line either.

A few days later when my sisters arrived in south beach we went back to Big Pink and enjoyed another delicious meal. We all ordered different dishes and shared them all; Taco salad, flaked grilled salmon salad, chicken cheese steak sandwich, buffalo chicken salad and a California BLT.
The taco salad is served in a fried tortilla which acts as the bowl and is topped with chopped crisp romaine lettuce, cheddar cheese, spicy beef, guacamole, sour cream, pico de gallo and fresh lime vinaigrette, absolutely satisfying and delicious. The beef is spiced perfectly with a cumin and cajun blend and is balanced well with their yummy citrus flavoured guacamole and fresh pico de gallo. The only downfall to this dish was its size. The salad is so huge that by the time you get halfway through, the bottom half is all soggy but it still tastes delish.

The grilled flaked salmon salad is served on a bed of chopped mixed lettuces with tomatoes, cucumber, capers and red onions with a balsamic vinaigrette. The salad was very good however we found the salmon to be over flaked, would have been better to leave the salmon in big pieces and salad was a bit under dressed.

The Buffalo chicken salad combines crisp romaine lettuce, sliced carrots, celery, spicy fried strips of tender white meat chicken and a blue cheese dressing and crumbles of blue cheese. The idea behind the salad is great, however we found the salad to be a bit bland and could have used more pizazz. The chicken was spicy and tender and the dressing was zingy but lacking the blue cheese flavour, it tasted more like a ranch rather than blue cheese dressing. All in all the salad was ok but not one I would order again.

The chicken cheese steak sandwich served with the homemade chips was a huge hit. The sandwich was an amazing play on the Philly cheese steak; spicy tender chicken, grilled peppers and onions topped with a cheesy sauce atop a submarine roll. The cheese sauce went perfectly with the spicy chicken, sautéed veggies and the roll, I cannot convey in words how delicious this sandwich is. Just try it, you will not regret it.

The California BLT is served on your choice of wheat or rye with slices of thick crispy applewood smoke bacon, fresh sliced avocado, crisp lettuce, slices of vine ripe tomato, sprouts and a basil mayo. The sandwich is piled high, very satisfying and served with their homemade bucket of chips. For a BLT I found the sandwich to be substantial and the fresh crisp ingredients really makes this sandwich truly delicious.

The grilled portobello sandwich is another favourite at Big Pink. Served as a triple decker, the roll is a perfect base to the sandwich, when toasted properly, otherwise you end up eating the sandwich with a fork and knife as I had to. The generous portion of grilled marinated portobello is absolutely delicious; a thick cut and meaty mushroom. The homemade basil mayo is what makes this sandwich shine. Fresh and oh so flavourful it binds all the other ingredients together and enhances the flavour of the goat cheese. The sandwich is very satisfying even for a meat eater like me. The buffalo chicken sandwich is another good option for someone who loves spicy food. The huge portion of juicy chicken breast tossed in a yummy buffalo sauce is really enough for two sandwiches.

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