Cobaya Niu with Chef Deme Lomas
A couple weeks ago, we squeezed thirty guinea pigs in there for a Cobaya dinner and let Chef Lomas do his thing. He went entirely off-menu for us, but still created dishes that were faithful to his idiom. It was a really enjoyable dinner. Here's what we had:
(You can see all my pictures in this Cobaya Niu flickr set).
To start things off, a cup of golden creamed leek soup, topped with a drizzle of olive oil, a spray of crispy fried julienned leeks, and a little dollop of herring roe. Simple, but richly flavored.
A plump seared scallop, with a burnished crusty edge on one side, served over silky cauliflower purée with cubes of a pomegranate gel. I defer to SteveBM in matters involving scallops (one of his favorite things when done right; one that will draw his scorn if not): he liked it a lot. I concur.
Lomas' seared duck breast, plated with a cinnamon-y apple sauce, also veered too sweet for me, though I really enjoyed the earthy tug of the slivered chestnuts served on top.
As tight as we were squeezed in the dining room, Niu's crew was squeezed even tighter in its tiny kitchen, and navigating their way between tables to bring out and clear plates. But I thought they turned everything out with efficiency and grace, and made everyone feel comfortable and cared for. We usually know it's been a good Cobaya dinner when the last dish has been cleared and nobody wants to get up and leave. Karina and her crew did a great job keeping everyone happy.
134 N.E. 2nd Avenue, Miami, Florida
 The best-known mustard ice cream may be the one Heston Blumenthal's done at The Fat Duck in combination with a red cabbage gazpacho, but Lomas' inspiration may have come from closer to home: here's a recipe for a steak tartare with mustard ice cream from Chef Joan Roca of El Celler de Can Roca.