1 APRIL 2014


With snowstorms and a relatively slow season, a number of diplomats, like New Yorkers, found partial relief in the 3-hour flight to Miami. Particularly in recent years, Miami Beach managed to create a relaxing social life through special events, like Art Basel, the Boat Show, film screenings and the Food Show, which has become an international competition amongst the world's best known chefs. By now, Miami South Beach has become a Latin American capital and a European winter spa, in addition to always being an American retreat.

One of the most popular restaurants in South Beach is Prime. Its beef menu dishes are attractive to a variety of guests, including many who cross the bridge especially to see and be seen there. The management handled its popularity fairly well, displaying an effort to accommodate and explain placement difficulties as they occurred. Being on the quiet side of Ocean Drive helped to keep waiting crowds hanging around nicely. Across the street, "Prime Italian" has become even more popular, as its wider space on the corner of First Street offered additional seatings. Its menu, with an Italian accent, is obviously popular from pasta, to lobster risotto, to a terrific tomato cheese garlic toast.

This year, a new "Prime Fish" appeared a block away. Very briefly, it is as tasteless as it is presumptuous. Thug-looking men posing as Valets try to wave down passing cars. The surroundings are really dark, almost intimidating to foreign visitors, while young receptionists would seat you immediately, the menu offered is a cross between deja vu and highway robbery. Appetizers like Tuna Tartare which come in tiny portions are about $20.00. Smoked salmon billed as Petrossian Special with Caviar took forever to arrive and the main dishes, described in banal detail, were overpriced for their quality. If you didn't consume their recommended wine -- perhaps for some reason you don't drink liquor -- or if worse, you were by yourself, a special point is made to keep you drying in the wind!

A visiting diplomat told us that when he stood up to complain, a short oxygen blonde tried to ascertain her management role by trying to explain how things worked. Most likely, it was her first job and she didn't seem to know much about dealing with customers.

There are so many excellent restaurants in Miami South Beach, particularly during the Food Festival. No need to get stuck in a spot that stinks!