Name: Greg Nguyen
Lives In: Miami
Restaurant Pick: Icebox Cafe
Reviewed Icebox Cafe: January 4th, 2009
Ice Box is great for people watching. It is close to the lively Lincoln Road scene, but it is removed enough to not feel quite as hectic. This place does not disappoint for brunch or dinner or even a late night cake dessert at the bar. Parking at Lincoln Road can definitely be a hassle at times. We were fortunate not to struggle with parking on Sunday morning. It took a while for us to get seated as all the tables were taken up (inside and out). The staff is always moving fast, and while they don’t seem to be wasting time, they are below average in attentiveness (because they seem to have too much going on). The staff is usually quite friendly though. The portions are always plentiful here, and the food quality ranges from good to very good (never bad nor other-worldly). The cakes have, however, gotten national attention from being mentioned on Oprah as the best cakes in America. Many of the cakes are really good, but there was a stretch of time that I went and the cakes were somewhat dry. My wife and I have really enjoyed coming here after dinner, sitting at the bar, sharing a cake and big cups of coffee.
Name: Rhonda L. Hollowell
Occupation: : Marketing Professional
Lives In: Miami
Restaurant Pick: Dolores But You Can Call Me Lolita
Reviewed Icebox Cafe: January 8th, 2009
Parking was a little challenging, in this very busy area right in the middle of the lunch rush, but I managed to find a spot about a block away. I enjoyed my stroll down Lincoln road glancing into some of the shops as I made my way to the Ice Box Café which sits on a side street just off of Lincoln Road. I almost passed it up because it has a especially minimal presence in the retail laden area. As I walked in I glanced around to take in the space. It was open and bright with white walls, exposed ceilings and colorful chairs. There was minimal décor aside from the happy patrons that graced each seat. The aroma was breathtaking. There were so many wonderful smells, yet none overpowered the other. I walked in and requested a table. I was handed a menu and instructed to seat myself. I found a table outside and a very charming, soft spoken server (Erika) came over to greet me. Erika proved to be very helpful and pleasant. She offered suggestions based on customer favorites and helped me make a wise choice. I enjoyed the Shrimp Cream Soup and Turkey Melt Sandwich. The ingredients were fresh and delectable. The soup was creamy and filled with tender shrimp and fresh vegetables. The sandwich was warm and toasty with a nice grade of sliced deli turkey. There was a small mixed green salad on the side accented with a nice light vinaigrette dressing. It was a most perfect lunch. I topped it off with a caramel brownie that was moist and luscious. I was disciplined enough not to take another to go, although as I sit here and type I am thinking about how grand it would be warmed and topped with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream!
After finishing my meal, I sat and watched as plates were cleared from nearby tables and 99% of them were totally clean. I witnessed people walk by and speak to some of the staff… others stopped in for lunch and the servers knew them by name. I can imagine that this is a local favorite and one of the areas best kept secrets. I am anxious to return for brunch and would recommend this restaurant to others based on their delicious comfort food, solid service, relaxed atmosphere, simple décor. This was a great find and a memorable experience!
Name: Eston Dunn
Lives In: Miami Beach
Restaurant Pick: Galanga Thai
From the outside, looking through the large bay windows, the colorful chairs and neon signage seem urbanely welcoming. But once inside the door, things changed for us. With askew panoramic pictures on the wall to a worn-out futon and fraying ottomans to greet us at the entrance to the no-name, no-personality waitress who approached and sat us (she reminded me of a poor caricature of a jaded truck-stop waitress – polar-opposite to the charismatic SoBe personae), all positive impressions faded. A cramped space that had the kitchen utilizing the majority of floor space instead for the patrons; the disproportions of the restaurant were almost claustrophobic.
To say the service was unfriendly isn’t fair … it was more functional. The usual artsy, casual faire SoBe is known for was absent the night me and my partner visited the Ice Box Café. Having gone there on a ‘date’, our expectations were not met as we sat there surrounded by a very young, college-esque crowd of late unkempt diners and a wait staff eager to leave and ‘just go home’. Not impressed by the main menu (we were looking for healthy selections), we ordered from the slips of paper stapled to the menu, the “Recession” turkey meatloaf dish (priced $19.62 with tax – where were the savings in that?) for our entrée (nothing appealed as an appetizer or dessert) and were surprised to find it the same quality of a seedy dive diner. The taste and texture were bland and missing any spices expected in a turkey dish that is needed to help boost the usually adaptive meat to be palatable.
We quickly ‘just wanted to go home, too’ and didn’t linger for dessert. For me, I was disappointed. I remember when the Ice Box Café opened and had fond memories of dining there ‘back in the day’. Just steps from the bustling Lincoln Road, it used to be an oasis of calm and cuisine. I remembered it to be a sanctuary of delicious and eclectic cuisine. I have memories of a different menu with each visit that would unfold in a stainless steel kitchen before my very eyes – from what we could see our platters came from the freezer to the microwave oven before arriving at our table. Sadly, this place’s day has past, in my opinion, from its glory days and now resembles a typical urban dive that is not only run down with its décor, but also its service and dining selections.
I would not recommend having a meet and greet here, unless you’re a college kid just wanting to fill a void and ‘hang’ with your friends; not carrying or having a sense of style and gastronomic taste.
Location: 1657 Michigan Ave., Miami Beach, FL 33139
Restaurant Owners: Robert Siegmann
Type of Cuisine: American Fusion
Meals Served: Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch and Dinner
Accommodations for Children: Yes