City Hall

 

3 stars for tasty, unfussy City Hall

city hall

Victoria Pesce Elliott

If Steve Haas could run the real City Hall like he runs his new Biscayne Boulevard restaurant, this would be one happy town. The veteran restaurateur (Soyka, Tuscan Steak) probably knows Miami diners better than anyone else, and judging from all the backslapping and kissing we’ve witnessed, he’s as popular as a councilman handing out pork. The menu, by the talented Tom Azar (Emeril’s South Beach), is refreshingly down to earth, with uncomplicated dishes in large portions at reasonable prices.

Ambience: Haas has created an appealing spot that is as perfect for a first date as it is for a night out with the girls, a brunch with the folks or a drink at the glossy black bar, where the tenders can explain an appetizer as well as they can mix a City Manager (a souped-up screwdriver with Svedka Clementine).

What Worked

  • A complimentary basket of warm, fresh bread and a ramekin of sweet, addictive whipped pecan butter
  • Ttiny black mussels braised in Guinness spiked with chorizo and saffron
  • Three meaty pieces of fried chicken crisped to a deep tan hue and served with corn salsa and chunky mashed potatoes
  • The house burger - a blend of sirloin, brisket and short rib charred with pencil-thick grill marks outside and juicy pink inside then loaded with applewood bacon, gooey brie and herbed mayo
  • Outrageously good pizzas — both the margarita and the decadent duck confit with shiitake mushrooms and fresh herbs — thin, bubbly crust at once chewy and crispy with a nice amount of oil and salt to lend it bite
  • Generous sides - creamed spinach, collard greens and baby French green beans with a fried onion crust
  • A complexly flavored and smoothly sauced gumbo loaded with slivers of andouille, baby shrimp and meaty hunks of crabmeat
  • Wild salmon dotted with black sesame seeds and tender cashews with shiitake-studded jasmine rice and petite bok choy
  • A roasted chicken with chunky Yukon gold potatoes and tender spears of broccolini
  • An incredibly appealing and well-priced ($7-$8.50) kids’ menu - spaghetti and meatballs, salmon, pizza, meatloaf and grilled chicken breast (no “fingers,” thankfully)
  • A birthday party of desserts - a cookie sundae, warm berry pie, banana cream pie and a chocolate croissant “bread pudding” that’s really a shallow bowl of vanilla custard layered with slices of day-old chocolate croissant, warm chocolate ganache and a smooth bourbon anglaise
  • The wine and beer - a decent selection of well-priced bottles that work with the unfussy food

 

What Didn't Work

  • A stale potato hamburger bun
  • Unscrispy fries
  • Scrawny pinky rings of calamari
  • Potato skins stuffed with everything but the kitchen sink among them

 

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