leave your inhibitions at the door
It had been over a decade since I was last in Miami and I usually don’t keep tabs on food scenes for cities I had no plans to visit. My first inclination was to do some Googling to find a restaurant but then remembered I had a possible Restaurant Sherpa there. You remember what that is, right? It’s basically your guide to the culinary ins and outs of your destination. It could be a site like Yelp, Zomato, and Trip Advisor, but the best ones are actual people you can trust.
I reached out to The Pinot Ninja, who I’ve never met in person, but was convinced she’d fill the role perfectly. I came to that conclusion not because she blogged extensively about restaurants – I’m not sure she ever did. I trusted her because she’s my blogging spirit animal. Her posts consistently made me piss my pants in laughter using wit, pop culture references, and a judicious amount of snark. She’s on hiatus now, but you can still read about her getting loaded with a pastor and my personal fave – “The Bachelorette and the Bidet.”
My faith in her was immediately justified as she quickly steered me away from the touristy beach areas and any thoughts of Cuban food. One of her recommendations was Pubbelly, an Asian-inspired gastropub in a residential area a mile or so inland from South Beach. When I saw that Chef Jose Mendin has been a James Beard Award semi-finalist for four years running, I knew I was in for a treat.
What We Ate
The menu was packed with so many different items and there were only one or two things that I DIDN’T want to try. So we went with the tasting menu. Unfortunately, it didn’t include the veal brains meuniere served with capers and blue crab tartar. But it did include …
Heirloom tomato salad with tofu, amazu ponzu, and blueberries
Japanese amberjack crudo with lemongrass romesco, morrones, hazelnuts, green onion
Octopus with black romesco, nduja, potatoes, watercress, piquillo pil pil, almonds
Bone marrow with citrus gremolata, miso butter toast, bacon marmalade
Brussels Sprouts with bacon miso, toasted garlic
Shortrib gyoza with black truffle, white corn soy, grana padano
Corn soup agnolotti with shortib brodo and black truffle butter and froth
Cochinillo – suckling pig, fuji apple confit, apple pie mustard, sauce Robert
And for dessert, my notes say we had what was called “Strawberry” – Dulce le leche mousse, strudel, crème brulee foam, coquito soft serve
But it sure doesn’t look like that… Whatever it was, it was good.
There were a couple missteps – the sprouts were too salty and the octopus a tad overdone – but everything else was solid. Boom Boom was never a fan of bone marrow, but after this one she’s craving it. And I’m not sure whether I loved the agnolotti or the gyoza more. Both were heavenly.
What I AM sure of is that this type of meal was not available in the touristy restaurants by the beach. Those had loud music, laminated menus, and people trying to lure us in with drink specials. Or if there was a place with this level of food, it would’ve been more expensive. The tasting menu was $60 per person, which would’ve bought two sushi rolls a Nobu or three cocktails at The Delano’s pool bar.
Just goes to show the value of a good Sherpa. Thanks Pinot Ninja!!