Dates Avec Chorizo – Goat Cream, Spicy Tomato, Bacon
McBelly – Kimchee, Yakiniku BBQ, House Bun
Duck & Pumpkin Dumplings – Orange, Almonds, Cinnamon, Soy Brown Butter
Soft Polenta Bramata – Truffle, Short Rib, Poached Hen Egg
Sea Urchin and Salmon Rillettes – House Pickles, Toast, Bacon Jam
Duroc Pork Belly Confit – Kabocha Squash, Butterscotch Miso, Corn Powder
Florida Stone Crab – House Made Fettuccine, Jalapeno, Ginger, Bok Choy, Miso Citrus Butter
Spiced Milk Tempura – PumpKing French Toast, Squash Milk Tempura, Bruleed Marshmallow Meringue, Roasted Sesame Ice Cream
Granny Smith’s Bread Pudding – Caramelized Apples, Cinnamon Custard, Streusel, Roasted Sesame Ice Cream
The Mason Jar – Strawberry Marmalade, Crème Brulee Foam, Caramel Mousse
Cap’n Corny – Bourbon Butterscotch Pudding, Whipped Popcorn Panna Cotta, Corn Cake, Nutty Caramel Corn, Roasted Sesame Ice Cream
Having celebrated their fourth anniversary with a whimsical brunch earlier that day it was with some surprise that pubbelly was only a quarter full when my family entered the celebrated space at 7pm but with reggae playing overhead as the Dolphins suffered a tough loss to Denver it was perhaps good fortune that saw the space so sparsely populated as both the kitchen and front of house executed beyond reproach, an eleven part order delivered with superlative timing, spot-on descriptions, and flavors that left no part of the palate untouched…or un-wowed.
Considered by some to represent gastropub ‘fusion’ while others would suggest the technique driven Asian cuisine to be Miami’s answer to David Chang it should come as no surprise that Chef Jose Mendin’s daily menu featured no less than thirty items rooted in concepts of local sourcing as well as sustainability with an eye towards umami and starting with a trio of signatures the evening began with a bold slap to the tastebuds as spicy chorizo stuffed inside large dates found levity in foamy fromage, the followup “McBelly” pairing tender pork with a sweet bun and funky kimchee while a quartet of light noodles arrived packed with duck as notes of citrus and cinnamon tickled the palate on a slick of brown butter.
Expanding an empire without compromising quality at the flagship a second flight of plates stared with creamy polenta studded with tender beef beneath topnotes of truffle carried by a soft-poached egg and although the bread served alongside silky rillettes teaming with flavors of smoke and sea could have stood to be cut slightly thinner that most certainly did not stop us from wiping the mason jar clean, each bite almost equal parts uni and fish with bacon jam, crispy strands of nori, and pickled vegetables each adding their own style of nuance in a choose-your-own-adventure experience in which not a single flavor was out of place.
Treated next to the longtime signature of confit porkbelly beneath sweet-meets-savory glaze suffice it to say that those uninterested in fatty cuts of meat should not apply and rounding out savories with seasonal stonecrab tossed with hand-cut pasta the flavors of pickled peppers, ginger, and miso served to further enliven the freshly picked crustacean, a flavor profile far more complicated but every bit as delicious as the simple perfection offered at Joe’s in the following days.
Unable to settle on a ‘reasonable’ number of desserts and as such investing in all but the two sundaes on offer it was with a quartet of sweets that the meal would end and although the pronounced flavors of popcorn unfortunately overwhelmed the butterscotch pudding of Cap ‘n Corny it would be difficult to determine a ‘best of’ amongst the rest, the Mason Jar harkening the flavors of strawberry shortcake carried by a cloud while the tempura and bread pudding both channeled the flavors of fall to great effect, the former intricately spiced with smoke and boozy notes balanced by light sweetness while the later was fruity and aromatic with each piping hot bite a textural exploration of creamy base and crunchy strudel beneath slowly melting soft-serve that added a subtle hint of salt.