2.5 stars for American comfort food at Brickell's OTC

 

2.5 stars for American comfort food at Brickell's OTC

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Victoria Pesce Elliott

We’re not talking meds here or even stocks. The popular Over The Counter — OTC — is a casual new eatery in the Brickell neighborhood where the namesake counter is the hub of activity. Perky young staffers working the cash register explain how this do-it-yourselfer works: You prepay for dishes from the all-American, comfort-food menu posted on the wall. Neatly printed blackboards advertise the impressive selection of beers and wines. While you wait for your order, grab cutlery and find a table, inside or out.

The menu combines cocktail-party standards like spinach and artichoke dip with Mom-made favorites like chicken parm and macaroni and cheese. In keeping with the rustic charm of the place, many dishes are served on cutting boards or in cast-iron skillets. Problem is the café tables outside are too small for more than one board.

Ambience: The woodsy, muted gray décor is sort of Anthropologie meets gastropub. A flat-screen TV satisfies sports fans, and the open kitchen can keep foodies entertained. The stiff, metal chairs could use some cushions, especially outdoors on cool nights, but the overall vibe is comfy.

What Worked

  • Charcuterie - thin sheets of prosciutto di Parma and a variety of pâtés
  • Marrow bones - a standout presentation with two stocky bones piled high with frizzled leek sticks, freshly toasted points, super-grainy brown mustard and a savory, Parmesan-studded braising liquid
  • A filling & tasty barbecue chicken sandwich - a squishy hoagie roll stuffed with deep-fried chicken strips, then plated with sliced avocado, a dab of sweet mustard and nicely tangy barbecue sauce
  • Beef, pork of fish sliders
  • Tuna sliders with a brioche-like bun, a bit of eel sauce and tangy wasabi mayonnaise
  • A rich short rib and brie sandwich
  • Addictive shaved brussels sprouts with chewy cubes of bacon drizzled with a warm walnut vinaigrette
  • Nicely seasoned fries with herbs and good salt
  • Perfectly roasted red and golden beets cut into tiny chunks and served over frisée with a bit of feta and an unobtrusive citrus dressing
  • A friendly crew
  • A fantastic selection of craft beers—a dozen on tap and even more in bottles
  • Farro with plenty of good, chopped veggies

 

What Didn't Work

  • Rather small sides
  • Packaged salad greens with anemic tomato
  • Sandwiches that seem too heavy on the bread and light on the stuffing
  • Tiny green salads without much oomph
  • An annoying modern version of a Caesar salad made with whole romaine leaves, crunchy but flavorless croutons, nibs of hardly roasted red pepper and gloppy dressing
  • Umimpressive quinoa loaded with pesto that had an odd, dusty taste
  • Limited dessert choices
  • A graham cracker sandwich that wasn't melty enough and made with questionable chocolate quality

 

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