2.5 stars for a "Modern American Tavern" at the Federal Food & Drink

 

2.5 stars for a "Modern American Tavern" at the Federal Food & Drink

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Victoria Pesce Elliott

With a wry sense of humor and loads of integrity, The Federal Food, Drink & Provisions has claimed a spot in a Biscayne Boulevard strip mall better known for a Dunkin Donuts and The Honey Tree, a favorite health food hangout.  It’s headed by part of the team who wowed local foodians with their back alley pop-up, Phuc Yea and Blue Piano.

Aniece Meinhold who calls herself the bar wench takes care of the front of the house while Cesar Zapata (stove master and pig whisperer) does the back. Alejandro Ortiz as chief puppeteer handles pastries and cash—though never at the same time. The menu includes classics like dense and flaky cheese biscuits and mussels steamed in lager but also some unusual combos that are, like new neighbors, worth getting to know.

Ambience: They’ve dubbed their spot a Modern American Tavern. It lives up to its name with the by-their-bootstraps décor of burlap sack covered benches and mattress-ticking pillows. Animal head trophies are clustered above a faux fireplace while forest green walls and wood “logs” from pallet wood are pure kitschy comfort. The outside patio framed by boxes of tomatoes and thyme conjure images of a simpler time. So does the food.

What Worked

  • Jar-o-duck - a mason jar filled with shredded Hudson Valley duck slow-cooked to a confit served pate style and accompanied by a sidecar of homemade toasted marshmallow fluff and sticky-sweet potato coins
  • Pigs ears fried up crisp
  • Pig wings (the fibula behind the shank) worth a taste  for lovers of all things porcine
  • Bright-as-candy roasted beets - yellow and red cubes topped with bits of creamy goat cheese, buttery toasted pecans and tiny smiles of sweet local orange segments
  • 42 house-made condiments including hearty European style mustards, house cured pickles and tangy ketchup
  • A short rib pot pie with strands of tender beef, meaty mushrooms, bacon as smoky as a campfire, slippery pearl onions in a broth as dark as evening and a crackling crisp golden crust
  • An excellent lamb burger served juicily medium rare and loaded with baby salad greens, a bitey horseradish mustard, tangy housemade chow-chow relish and a griddled pretzel bun
  • A roasted “little” chicken from Lake Meadow Naturals stuffed with sausagey cornbread
  • A tasty pair of grilled wild boar sausages nestled
  • Buttery mashed potatoes
  • Creamier than the top of the milk bottle cheddar collard greens best eaten by the teaspoon
  • Oven roasted cauliflower that would have been as good without the half-melted squares of aged goat cheese or the slivers of dried tomatoes
  • Superb, "tender as a teenager’s feelings" mussels with hits of bacon
  • A well-thought out selection of beers, ales, wines and vermouth cocktails
  • Bottomless mimosas at brunch
  • Smoothly creamy smores - a kind of milky chocolate mousse layered with toasted marshmallow and graham crackers for dipping
  • Light strawberry cheesecake based on a 1960’s recipe from the Fontainebleau Hotel
  • Young, enthusiastic staff

 

What Didn't Work

  • Overcooked fisherman’s New Amsterdam stew
  • Fresh but bland plank of red snapper that seemed more boiled than broiled

 

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