south beach: disappointments.

During a two-week stint anywhere you're bound to run into some less-than-satisfying dining experiences. Aren't ye?

Best case, you go somewhere that's supposed to be great, a landmark, and it's average. And expensive. Joe's Stone Crab, for instance. Don't worry, I didn't wait two hours to be seated or anything, I just got takeaway. I just don't understand what the appeal might be. It's basically upscale room service food.

Worst case: excruciating food poisoning. El Pub (or El Pube as Mara calls it) in Little Havana sent me to bed for a solid 24 hours wishing I was beyond dead. I can't even explain to you the degree to which my body rebelled against this food. Lamb stew with plantains and a mamey batida. I haven't been in that much pain since a bad Eggs Benedict at a Howard Johnson's when I was 12 years old.

UPDATES: Interesting developments afoot. Yesterday Mara came down with a mercifully milder version of whatever I had on Wednesday, so I can't say with 100% certainty that El Pub was to blame for my G/I blowout. My lamb was a bit gamey, and the symptoms I endured included a bunch of pain, which I do not normally associate with a 24-hour bug.

And, although there's nothing about this that makes me want to retract my "hotel food" characterization, I did have my first fantastic bite of food from Joe's today: their Grilled Lobster Reuben is out of sight. Thank goodness, cos I felt like a real sucker going in there again after I'd already written them off.

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