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An Anton Ali Pop-Ed: The Time I Took My Eating Talents to South Beach


Winter sucks. It really does. Who doesn't get tired of this cold weather all the time? Every single year the town snow plow runs over my front yard ... and I'm pretty sure it's on purpose. They don't come back in the spring to sow new grass seed down either. It's a Fern Gully of weeds and shrubs that I then have to pull up and re-seed myself.

Anyway, with the winter in full gear and no end in sight, it was time for a trip last week. So off I went to South Beach in Miami for a while to take in the 80-degree-plus weather on the beach. Having an instantaneous feeling of happiness from getting off the plane was enough for me. Besides the teal-colored beaches and massive amount of local bars where I had numerous margaritas in glasses the size of my head, I had the opportunity to visit a celebrity hot spot, Prime 112.

The restaurant itself is situated right on Ocean Drive in what's called "The South of Fifth," and it's certainly no Outback Steakhouse. Everything from the food down to the service was pretty incredible. Although I had figured the location and high price was the bulk of the reason why it attracted so much famous attention, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the food was pretty damn good.

Like many of the restaurants on Ocean Drive, valet service is a well-oiled machine. It's $20 to get your car parked, which isn't terrible given the fact that there aren't a lot of places to park and parking rates would run you close to at least $10 anyway. Prime 112 is part of a family of restaurants that are owned by Myles Chefetz. Prime 112, Prime Fish and Prime Italian are right near each other and are in the same price range. Chefetzs' first restaurant is also in Miami Beach and is called Big Pink. At first glance, it appears to be much easier on the wallet and has more of a diner feel, from what I hear. Reading that the owner rarely takes vacations, it was no surprise that he was present that night. Taking up the only parking spot that was in front of the restaurant, I saw an Aston Martin Vanquish that I could only assume was his.

I had heard that the wait at the restaurant, no matter what day you go, was lengthy — even with a reservation. Going in with this mentality makes the wait not too big of a deal. We came there on a Monday night and had reservations at 7:30. Navigating through the sizable crowd of people to the podium sitting right near the door was expected. Off to the right was a long chair where people who had reservations sit and wait. So we waited. I went to the bar to grab a beer and naturally there was hardly any room to squeeze myself in to attract the attention of the bartenders. Many of the bar patrons were snacking on something in a glass. It was a strange bar snack, but it turned out to be applewood smoked bacon, a popular appetizer people take advantage of as they wait. Although the wait went by quickly, we got called for a table around 9 p.m.

If you get a chance to go, make sure you take advantage of the weather and sit outside. You'll also get a little more space from what I can tell after being inside for about an hour. They recommended the martinis, so we got a couple to start with. Best one I've ever had. For dinner, we ordered the 30 oz. bone-in ribeye for two. It could have fed four. The steak was cooked exactly as we ordered and didn't need the side of recommended peppercorn sauce we got on the side to enhance the taste. We also ordered some truffle fries and stuffed tomatoes to start with. The fries were good, but the tomatoes were not only generously stuffed with spinach and parmesan cheese, they were gigantic. Generally, it was good to see that the portions weren't pretentiously small — we took everything home for a round two meal the next day.

Of course, room was saved for desert. Get. The. Giant. S'more. After the layers of chocolate and peanut butter, I could only imagine that they then place a marshmallow bomb of some kind that explodes all over the bowl they give you. My only regret is I didn't also take this back to selfishly eat by myself in the dark at night.

While I didn't see anyone recognizable at the restaurant (Jaime Foxx was there a couple of days before us apparently and I coincidentally saw at the beach earlier that day), the experience was well worth the wait. If you can get past the initial sticker shock, you should make this one of your stops if you find yourself like me and want to escape the blistering cold that'll likely be hanging around for another couple of months. I've had the ability to do a fair amount of traveling around the country, and this managed to be one of the best restaurant experiences had so far.
An Anton Ali Pop-Ed: The Time I Took My Eating Talents to South Beach Reviewed by Anton Ali on 2/19/2014 Rating: 5

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