I possess a Florida driver’s license–I lived there from 1990 (when we moved to Boca Raton from Oceanside, New York) to 1997 (when I graduated high school and left for college)–but I do not possess a favorite Florida restaurant. My parents certainly have theirs: steakhouses, both (New York Prime, Prime 112). Yet, on a recent trip home for my brother’s college graduation (congratulations, Michael!) I think I think I may have finally uncovered a Florida favorite. The location’s crazy–it’s in a seedy section of Biscayne Blvd.–our table, near a window, gave us front row seats for a parade of sketchy characters with brown paper bags loitering near a bus stop. My dad said the room looked like a converted shoe store. And yet, this restaurant–Michy’s, named after chef Michelle Bernstein (who went to Emory, my alma mater)–fully upholds the values by which I judge a restaurant. The food is honest, the service unpretentious. The space is charming. And, most importantly, I had fun and thoroughly enjoyed my dinner.

Here’s Michael and his girlfriend, Tali, with their menus:


There are several things to note in that picture: look at those quirky chandeliers. They’re unique–long, handmade-looking–they give the space character, warmth, levity. So does the wallpaper above the mirror. And the chairs aren’t traditional restaurant chairs: they’re white and wooden with colorful, floral seats.

The giant glass window (with the unfortunate scenery–bus stop, dirty street, ugly buildings) floods the restaurant with light. It’s as if, given a bad situation, the design team, the staff, Michy herself did everything in their power to create a lovable space. And, for me, it worked. (Can’t say the same for my family!)

Our waitress was bubbly, down-to-earth and really helpful. She helped us with the wine–suggesting a crisp Chablis, which we all liked–and then steered us towards popular menu favorites. I went for an innovative appetizer: blue cheese, shredded duck and jamon croquetas with fig marmalade.


These were like mozzarella sticks for adults. The blue cheese was the dominant flavor, and the way it played against the fig marmalade was like a movie about a bitter old lady who’s undone by a spunky teenager with a heart of gold and a flask of Bourbon. (James Beard committee–did you read that sentence? Award me!)

Tali had a crazy beet salad that looked like a banana split (sorry for the blur, blame Tali!):


Those puffs that look like whipped cream are actually goat cheese puffs. Nuts!

Now for the entree. With the exception of my dad, who ordered spaghettini seafood pasta, we all had paella. Specifically: “Paella style rice with Mariscos, seared Pumpkin Swordfish, shellfish nage.” (What does any of that mean?)


The fish was a bit bland–probably because it was so fresh, they prepared it simply–yet the rice was packed with flavor. I loved the rice half. I could’ve used a lot more of the rice, and a lot less of the fish. And, unfortunately for Tali and my mom, they ordered half portions and could’ve used a lot more rice AND fish.

I’ll be honest: none of us were groaning in ecstasy with our entrees. Plus, we arrived at 7:00 PM and we had our entrees by 7:40. That kind of sucks, when you want an evening out and it’s over before you know it. But I’ll still defend this place: not every entree can be a hit. And, again, the rice was packed with flavor. But I’ll let my family off the hook for not sharing my enthusiasm.

We were all enthusiastic, though–raving, in fact–for the desserts. How could we not? Look at this bread pudding:


Some kind of chocolate cake, I think:


And, my personal favorite, this post-modern Baked Alaska:


Remember how I had baked Alaska at Chez Panisse and how charmed I was by it? For how unpretentious it was and for how it wasn’t about trends or gimmicks but just good, crowd-pleasing food? That’s Michy’s too. What Michy’s and Chez Panisse have in common is their capacity to make you feel like you’re visiting a great friend’s house for dinner. Michy’s, like Chez Panisse, is intimate, unfussy, risky, carefree—it’s not the straight-A student reading their book report, it’s the funny kid with glasses doing cartwheels and singing the collected works of Donovan. If that’s the kind of kid you’d want to raise, then you know where to eat the next time you’re in Florida.

Michy’s. 6927 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33138. (305) 759-2001.

8 thoughts on “Michy’s”

  1. Adam, did you actually get any mariscos with that “paella-style rice with mariscos….”? I don’t see any seafood in that dish, unless you count the swordfish.

    To be honest, your description of that swordfish is why I never order it anywhere. It is just too bland tasting to me, no matter what is done to it.

  2. Charlotte DeVree

    Wait a minute — a bunch of NYers go to dinner in Miami, and are unhappy that the food came TOO SOON?? What’s wrong with this picture?

  3. I recently went to Michy’s and was very unhappy. The food was good but there were major problems with the restaurant. Aside from the location, when you enter the rstaurant, there is nowhere to stand once you make the awkward walk through the dining room to the hostess. We were bodychecked by nearly 10 waitstaff as we waited for the hostess to find our reservation. Then, when we sat down at one of the two-person tables along the wall, I noticed that the acoustics were deafening. As I ate a sumptuous croqueta, I had to endure the piercing chortles from every table around me. Now, I bet I would have enjoyed sitting and laughing with any of my loud, fellow diners that night, but at my table, the experience was cacophonic misery. Finally, I found the waitstaff had too much of an one-day-I-will-have-my-own-restaurant air about them. Please, let me eat my paella in peace – I do not need to be educated about Michy, the latest creation, or your personal views on dining. In sum – Michy, please repackage your very enjoyable cuisine.

  4. I really wanted to love michy’s , I’ve been there twice and in general the food is great. But there are way too many problems going on all the time in this restaurant. The owners want to have the best of both worlds and I do not think it’s possible, you can not play the “nice, cool, funky, great but not perfect” place and then charge people as much as Daniel or Le Bernardin where everything is flawless. I found lots of inconsistency in service, portion size and food in general. Plus the restaurant has major problems such as the restrooms, location, and general layout of the dinning room and overall experience. Again the food in general is very good, but what you get as a whole experience for what you pay does not match.

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