New Times' Iron Fork Recap

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Jackie Sayet
The Presidente flowed as Chef John Critchley laid the culinary smackdown on Giancarla Bodini for the 2009 Iron Fork title.  Critchley's on a winning streak, with his seafood-celebrating Area 31 having been recently named one of Esquire magazine's best new restaurants this year.

Our focus, however, was the side show -- edible offerings of 40 South Florida restaurants through which crowds weeded mowed.  Here are some highlights:

- Whisk's fall-off-the-bone pork with golden honey cider barbecue sauce on a bed of slaw with corn bread cube was a balanced bite.  Rumor has it, brother-sister owners, Brendan and Kristin Connor are scouting for bigger digs, still in Coral Gables.  We approve, as long as they find a way to maintain the restaurant's intimate charm.
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Jackie Sayet
- Urbanite Bistro's bite of deer was upstaged by its tuna, masago, and seaweed salad on crisp, asymmetrical wonton shards, both in presentation and flavor. This seconds-worthy bite was enough to encourage us to plan a visit to its Wynwood home.

- It was a pleasure to catch up with Chef Sean Brasel who manned his Meat Market booth with class and panache, serving up tender slices of perfectly-cooked skirt steak on a bed of frisee.  Brasel will be joining chefs Clay Conely, Michael Bloise, and Michael Schwartz at the January 10 Dinner in Paradise at Paradise Farms in Homestead.

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Jackie Sayet

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Jackie Sayet
- Managing the sweetness of tropical fruit-based sauces is no easy feat, so we were impressed by MiMo's Le Cafe and its nuggets of a halibut-style fish lightly dressed in mango.

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Jackie Sayet
- Gimme some more goat!  South Beach Haitian mainstay Tap Tap may have scored our favorite dish of the night with its spicy goat, served with a smile by General Manager Gary Sanon-Jules.  Its finger-licking bone-on bites left lips tingling from a habanero-laced vinegar sauce.

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Jackie Sayet
- Gordon Biersch showed up on its best behavior, labeling its Kobe burgers "American."  What a difference some newsprint makes.

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Jackie Sayet
Au Pied de Cochon's macaron with duck mouse.

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Jackie Sayet
Chef Allen's team presented shrimp salad profiterole while he emceed and judged the cooking competition.
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Jackie Sayet
Judgement.
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Jackie Sayet
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Jackie Sayet

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