The Eat Beat Dining around South Florida
with Mike Mayo
Eating The Eat Beat

Last call for Maguires, Thomas Keller coming to South Florida, Burt & Max's might reopen by Saturday

Welcome to the Eat Beat Newsletter. We’re back from holiday break, not exactly lean and mean, but ready to take a bite out of 2017. Already there is some meaty dining news, including the imminent demise of a venerable Irish pub in Fort Lauderdale, a mystery ailment impacting a popular Delray Beach restaurant and a long-awaited South Florida arrival from one of America’s best chefs.

(Slan abhaile Maguires ... May the condo rise to meet you?)

Maguires Hill 16 closing Sunday: A place where prosecutors, cops and journalists have long gathered to say goodbye to departing colleagues will now have to say goodbye to itself. Maguires Hill 16, a popular Irish restaurant and pub, has been sold and will serve its final pints on Sunday (Jan. 8). The low-slung watering hole on North Andrews Avenue in Fort Lauderdale has been around for more than 50 years, and has seen its share of song, laughter and tears. I'll be there on Sunday to hoist a few. The buyers, a group that includes developer Alan Hooper and restaurateur Tim Petrillo, are mum on plans for the site, located in the gentrifying Flagler Village neighborhood. Time marches on. RIP.

(Surf's up for Lake Worth High grad Thomas Keller.)

Thomas Keller coming to Surfside in 2018: Thomas Keller, perhaps America's best and most respected chef, will open a restaurant at the new Surf Club Four Seasons Hotel in Surfside, the Miami Herald's Carlos Frias reports. The hotel is under construction and expects to open in early 2018. Keller, best known for The French Laundry in Napa Valley and Per Se in New York City, apparently will not be bringing his signature chef-driven multi-course haute cuisine to Miami-Dade. Instead he's developing a resort-friendly menu for the historic site, a former private club where the elite and celebrities such as Frank Sinatra partied. This will be Keller's first restaurant venture in South Florida, but he has worked here before: as a dishwasher in the Palm Beach club where his mother worked. Keller, a Lake Worth High graduate, spent his teen years in Palm Beach County.

(A rash of symptoms and no answers at Delray Beach eatery.)

Mystery lingers at Burt & Max's: Burt & Max's restaurant in Delray Beach remains closed as management and health department officials try to determine the cause of a mystery ailment that has impacted several kitchen workers. The restaurant, 9089 W. Atlantic Ave., 561-638-6380, has been shut since Dec. 28, apart from reopening on New Year's Eve. Co-owner Burt Rapoport told me Thursday that the restaurant might reopen this weekend. In a Wednesday Facebook post, he wrote, "We are free to open at our own discretion," and that he voluntarily went to the health department for advice. He has conducted extensive testing and cleaning with private firms and says, "We may never know the cause" of the kitchen irritant.

(Cauliflower blooms across South Florida.)

Trends, best bites and an opening: I take a look ahead at some projected food trends for 2017, and a look back at some of my favorite bites from 2016. The James Beard Foundation predicts cauliflower will be big this year, but it's already looming large on many menus across South Florida, so I say the food faddists are late to the party on that one ... For some of my least favorite bites from 2016, check out my review of Brava by Brad Kilgrore at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami (along with a supplemental visit I paid to Alter, his hot spot in Wynwood). The young chef has garnered awards and accolades, but I have to put Kilgore in the category of phenomena I just don't get, along with "The Walking Dead" and Pokemon Go. ... Mignonette Uptown, 13951 Biscayne Boulevard, 305-705-2159, opens Friday (Jan. 6) in a converted diner, the second outpost of Daniel Serfer's oyster bar with comfort food. And Serfer's cozy Blue Collar, 6730 Biscayne Blvd, 305-756-0366, celebrates its fifth anniversary starting Jan. 12 with a week of "scratch-off ticket" giveaways, a sure thing where every ticket is a winner, offering prizes such as gift cards and chicken parms.

(A taste for coconut at KYU.)

Question of the week: Vic Klusner asks, "Are there many foods that you either disliked or had not experienced when you were growing up that you have had to develop a discerning taste for as a restaurant reviewer?" I have to keep an open mind (and mouth) in my new job, so that means putting aside preconceived notions and past prejudices. I'm still not thrilled with organs and innards, but I'll down sweetbreads and tripe when duty calls. And I never was much of a fan of mango or coconut, but I've had desserts (such as the coconut cake at KYU in Miami) that have made me a convert. Sorry, I still can't take pumpkin or pumpkin spice. Yuck.

(A SoCal favorite arrives in SoFla.)

Quote of the week: "Nobody was doing them in the United States. I thought everybody would like it. But those first two years were touch and go. It took awhile for people to catch on." Ralph Rubio about the fish taco, which he brought from Mexico to San Diego in 1983. Rubio says he has sold 210 million of his fish tacos through the years. Rubio's Coastal Grill recently opened three South Florida restaurants, the first ones east of Colorado and the chain's first market expansion in 16 years.

Got a restaurant tip or dining beef?  Reach me at mmayo@southflorida.com or 954-356-4508. Don’t troll me, but feel free to roast or flambeé me on Twitter: @heymikemayo, and follow my food adventures on Instagram: @mikemayoeats.

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Stay hungry, my friends.

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