Monday, June 15, 2015

best thing i ate last week: Grouper Cheek at Alter

I've been waiting a long time for Bradley Kilgore to get a place where he could really do his own thing. We first crossed paths when he was the sous chef at Azul, and we did a Cobaya dinner  there with Andrew Zimmern as a guest (who nicknamed Brad "Wall Street" for his slicked back hair). A brief stint at Exit 1 on Key Biscayne, a longer and more fruitful tenure at Jean-Georges' J&G Grill, and now that time has finally come with Alter.

The menu at this roughly 45-seat venue in Wynwood is all Brad's, honed down to seven appetizers and an equal number of mains. A five-course, $65 tasting menu selected from among those items is a good way to try a lot of it at once. That's what I did for my first visit, with a couple add-ons.

Cheeks are like the pork belly of fish: richer, fattier, moreish. This grouper cheek is meaty but giving, substantial enough to stand up to the intense shoyu hollandaise draped over it like a velvet robe. Various seaweeds and flowering dill are scattered about, like it just washed up on a black sand shore (that's actually creamy black rice). A couple twists of cucumber and thin rounds of chile pepper provide a bit of palate-cleansing snap.

It doesn't just look like a seascape. It tastes like one too, but with more butter and umami. It was the best thing I ate last week.

(Full disclosure: this course, a small sample of one of the larger entrées, was a gift from the kitchen in addition to the tasting menu; I did my best to make up for it with the tip).

Runner up: the soft egg dish from the same meal. More to come on that after at least one more visit, in order to do a more fulsome write-up.

You can see all the pictures from my first visit in this Alter - Miami (Wynwood) flickr set.

223 NW 23rd Street, Miami

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