Showing posts with label North Miami. Show all posts
Showing posts with label North Miami. Show all posts

Monday, March 6, 2017

best thing i ate last week: Oysters Ciancio at Mignonette Uptown

We've kind of let the "Best Thing I Ate Last Week" routine fall by the wayside. Let's remedy that right now.

A couple months ago, I attended a friends and family at Mignonette Uptown, the new oyster bar and seafood place from Daniel Serfer (who also runs Blue Collar in the MiMo District and the original Mignonette Downtown in Edgewater) in the old Gourmet Diner on Biscayne Boulevard in North Miami. I liked it. I finally got back there this weekend, and tried a dish I missed on that first visit: the Oysters Ciancio, named after the restaurant's chef de cuisine, Anthony Ciancio.

They're topped with a paste of garlic, shallots and white miso, basted with beef tallow, and broiled, and they come out plump and savory and just a little bit meaty and a lot delicious.

(You can see more pictures in this Mignonette Uptown - North Miami Beach flickr set.)

At Mignonette Downtown, you might instead get the Oysters Frank, named after chef de cuisine Bobby Frank, which come topped with melted Manchego cheese, crispy bacon, sherry and butter. It's just one example of how the theme of the two locations is consistent while the particulars of the execution vary. Some more: the really suave squid and tomato stew which was the "CBGB" (chowder, bisque or gumbo) of the day at Uptown, and a clever Thai-French mashup of tom kha moules frites. I'm pretty happy that I can now go seven miles in either direction from home and run into a Mignonette.

Also: big shout-out to chefs Jeremiah Bullfrog and Kurtis Jantz, who reminded us it's Mardi Gras season by throwing an Ole Bay All Day party at BoxElder Saturday (pics here). All afternoon they were slinging Natchitotches meat pies, muffulettas, crab gumbo, boiled crawfish and king cake donuts. It was a great time.

Monday, January 9, 2017

first thoughts: Mignonette Uptown | North Miami Beach

For years, we were regulars at Hanna's Gourmet Diner, a shiny aluminum-sided diner along Biscayne Boulevard in North Miami Beach. Though it changed hands from the original owners some time in the 90's, Gourmet Diner maintained its quirky mix of retro Americana atmosphere and rustic French cookery. With its casual setting and several kid-friendly items on the menu, it was a place we could comfortably bring the whole family. And while the kids ate penne with pink sauce, I could have celery root salad, French onion soup, trout meuniere, tenderloin tips in bordelaise sauce, or their reliably good roast duck. Always with a side of the vegetable souffle of the day, and sometimes, a fruit tart for dessert.

Gourmet Diner moved out of the space a couple years ago. Happily, Daniel Serfer and Ryan Roman, chef-owner and co-owner of Mignonette oyster bar near downtown, spotted it and had a good idea. Now, it's Mignonette Uptown. I was there for "friends and family" last Thursday.[1] It was great to see the old diner back in action, and even more so, as a second iteration of one of my favorite Miami restaurants. (You can see all my pictures in this Mignonette Uptown flickr set).

They kept a lot of the good "old bones" of the place, while still sprucing it up considerably. So the long white marble counter in front of the kitchen is still there (a perfect fit for an oyster bar), but there's a movie theater style marquee above it, like in the original Mignonette, displaying the rotating daily selection of oysters. The same old marble tables also line the windows facing Biscayne Boulevard (or maybe they just bought the same exact ones), but a comfortable leather banquette has been added.

The menu is similar in format to the original Mignonette: there's an assortment of freshly shucked oysters, seafood towers, a CBGB (chowder, bisque or gumbo) of the day, a crudo of the day, and an assortment of mostly fish and seafood dishes, done either "plain" or "fancy." But the details bear the imprint of chef de cuisine Anthony Ciancio, who's done time in some very good places: Michael's Genuine, 27 RestaurantAlter, as well as Sean Brock's McCrady's in Charleston.

So you can get a classic like Oysters Rockefeller, done with watercress, Pernod and a dusting of parmesan.[2] Or you can get Buffalo Scallops, napped in hot sauce butter with crumbled gorgonzola, quartered radishes, ribbons of celery and shards of crispy chicken skin.

The "fancy" main course options are perhaps even more finessed than those at the downtown location. A fat tranche of cod, which flakes into broad, silky ribbons, is served over batons of yuca and napped with a champagne beurre blanc dotted with caviar and then crowned with twirls of fried yuca and wispy dill sprigs. Pan-seared striped bass is served over a creamy onion soubise; its accompaniment, "peas and carrots," sounds pedestrian but surprises with dark purple roots and subtly minted peas nestled over a carrot purée garnished with pea shoots and fancy flowers.

Those with no appetite for such indulgences can get a generously stuffed lobster roll (but where are the knuckles and claws?), a choice of plain grilled fish, fried chicken, or a dry-aged bone-in NY strip steak.

Serfer may be one of the only guys in town with a more finely honed sense of dining nostalgia than myself. So he got pastry chef Devin Braddock, another MGFD alum who worked with the wonderful Hedy Goldsmith, to create a "GD" fruit tart just like Gourmet Diner used to serve, only better. Also pretty great: her chocolate pie with a brown butter Oreo crust, which surprises with a refreshingly dark, bitter undercurrent of coffee to balance out the sweetness.

Mignonette Uptown officially opened on Friday for lunch and dinner service. So I'm now in the happy position of having a Mignonette within ten miles of home in either direction.

Mignonette Uptown
13951 Biscayne Boulevard, North Miami Beach, Florida

[1] I don't normally do such things, but – full disclosure – Danny and Ryan are indeed friends. Plus, Frod Jr. is a former employee, having spent summer before last busing tables at Mignonette downtown.

[2] I meant to get the "Oysters Ciancio," done with melted beef tallow, garlic and shallot, but our order got mixed up. Given that this was a F&F dinner, the night before the restaurant officially opened, it's much too early to talk about service. But all the staff had the right attitude and eagerness, and frankly I was floored that the kitchen was cooking the entire menu for a friends and family night. It was a trial by fire, and from where I was sitting, everyone passed.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Petit Rouge - North Miami

petit rouge menu In belated celebration of Bastille Day, I figured I ought to finish off my thoughts on Petit Rouge, which we visited for the first time last weekend. I've noted previously how there is something immensely comforting to me about the classic French brasserie menu. Escargot, onion soup gratinée, frisee aux lardons, duck confit, steak & frites, potatoes sardalaise ... it's all good. Even though I have no real personal connection with the country or its food, I know this food, I enjoy it, and it's a true pleasure when executed correctly. Petit Rouge gets it right.

The menu was fairly close to the one linked to above with a few tweaks. We started with a tarte flambée for the kids to split as an appetizer. Tarte flambée is basically an Alsatian pizza, a flatbread topped with crème fraîche, sautéed onions and bacon, with perhaps a slightly crispier crust than the average Neapolitan pie. Petit Rouge's had a nice crispy crust, and a great mix of creamy, salty and sweet from the toppings. Mrs. F and I waited patiently for the kids to have their fill and then ravenously descended on what they left behind.

Though there was much on the regular menu's list of appetizers that was tempting, I was even more tempted by one of the daily specials recited to us - duck rillettes. A generous mound of rich duck confit, pulled and shredded and moistened with some duck fat, served with a nice little salad of frisée and other greens, along with some cornichons and olives and some croutons for shoveling. Nice, simple and delicious. Mrs. F started with a salmon tartare, done with nice fresh fish and all the classic pairings (chopped egg, capers, onions, a bit of crème fraîche).

I followed with another daily special, house-made boudin blanc. Boudin blanc is a light-colored, mildly flavored sausage, usually involving some combination of veal, pork or chicken, along with cream or milk. Petit Rouge's version included two gigantic plump links, served along with some nice mashed potatoes (rich but not overly creamy, and addictive) and braised red cabbage. Very nice boudin blanc, which I'd be prepared to say was possibly every bit as good as the one I had for breakfast at Thomas Keller's Bouchon in Las Vegas.

The rest of our dining crew had an assortment of other items - bavette steak in a red wine jus with frites (and good frites they were), Scottish salmon with a provençal tomato sauce, frisée aux lardon topped with an oozy poached egg and a bacon vinaigrette, and a macaroni and cheese with a crispy topping of bread crumbs and golden-brown toasted cheese. All were done properly and hit all the right notes.

For dessert, Frod Jr. was, of course, sucked in by the immense gravitational pull of a flourless chocolate cake, while Little Miss F went with a tarte au citron. The chocolate cake was one of the few items that didn't really impress, striking me as a bit dry and underflavored.

The prices at Petit Rouge are also designed to please, with almost all entrées under $25. It was particularly appreciated that the boudin blanc special I ordered turned out to be only $18, actually less than many of the items on the regular menu. The wine list follows suit - we had a 2007 Jean Descombes Morgon for $35 which, while perhaps not a fantastic bargain from a markup perspective (the wine retails for anywhere between $10-20), was nonetheless a great price point, and there were several other selections in this range.

Petit Rouge is in a tiny shoebox of a space on Biscayne Boulevard just north of 123rd Street which used to house another French restaurant, the short-lived Plein Sud. Based on our visit, I suspect Petit Rouge is going to be there much longer.

Petit Rouge
12409 Biscayne Boulevard
North Miami, FL 33181

Petit Rouge on Urbanspoon