Showing posts from April, 2013

Oak Tavern - Miami Design District

Turns out, I'd been stalking Chef David Bracha for decades without knowing it.

Go back about twenty years, and a couple of my favorite restaurants were Norman Van Aken's A Mano in the Betsy Hotel on South Beach, and his more casual Stars & Stripes Café in the same property.[1] A few years later, a romantic little spot opened up in the Harrison Hotel on Washington Avenue, called "411." (Remember when using the address number was the big trend in restaurant names? What was everyone thinking?) We loved 411, which felt like an elegant, secret hideaway, but it didn't last very long.

Not long after 411 closed, I remember eating at Fishbone Grill, a casual seafood place next to Tobacco Road on Miami Avenue. There was a dish there - crabcakes served with a cherry and apple slaw, and a smoked almond tartar sauce - that was identical to one of my favorite dishes at 411. "They copied the dish!" I thought.

Well, you've probably figured out what it took me s…

Cobaya Makoto

Makoto, in Bal Harbour, is one of my three favorite places in town for sushi. But when we decided to do a Cobaya dinner with Chef Makoto Okuwa, the guy whose name is on the door, we knew it would be impossible to do sushi properly for that many people at once. We gave Chef Makoto the usual pitch - serve what you really want to make, do something off-menu, don't be afraid to be adventurous - and left it to him to decide how best to put together a dinner for 25 people.

What he came up with was one of the most intriguing and unusual menus we've seen at one of these events, combining outstanding ingredients, some stunning presentations, and a good dose of diner interactivity.

(You can see all my pictures from the dinner in this Cobaya Makoto flickr set).

To start, something I'm pretty sure none of us had ever tried before: a turtle headcheese. "Nikogori"[1] apparently refers to dishes - often seafood, but sometimes meats or vegetables - bound in aspic. This dish - wh…

podBrunch v4.0

The gleaming chrome of the gastroPod's Airstream trailer is always a promising sight - even more so when it's pulled up in front of GAB Studio in Wynwood. Good things have happened here with the Pod - a Cobaya dinner with Alex Talbot of Ideas in Food, and a P.I.G.-fest among them.

This time around, it was Chef Jeremiah Bullfrog's version of Sunday brunch, his fourth such "podBrunch." Eggs were broken, but fortunately nobody had to break out their emergency kicks.

(You can see all my pictures in this podBrunch 2013 flickr set.)

A somewhat deceptively simple salad started things off. Just a few ingredients: asparagus, onion, and a lemony vinaigrette, but with a layering of textures and forms. The asparagus appeared both as thinly shaved stalks and delicate pickled tips.Sprigs of fresh spring onion were mixed with thin, crispy golden dried onion (onion "katsuobushi," as Jeremiah called it). A synesthete would say this tasted like "green" - reall…