“Are they giving the food away?” asked a friend who waited more than an hour for a table at the impossibly popular Whisk Gourmet. Well, not exactly. But the reasonable prices, smart service and simply delicious food at this not-very-well-kept South Miami secret have the neighborhood gem packed for lunch and dinner six days a week.
Whisk started out as a catering company cobbled together by the sister-and-brother team of Kirsten and Brendan Connor. They still supply plenty of party trays, which is something of a miracle given the constant bustle at their living-room-size shop. Big appetites are required for food that tends toward Southern comfort with fried green tomato sandwiches and crumbly cornbread with scallion honey butter but also borrows from Latin America with pork masitas and a tender pulled-pork burrito. They take advantage of what is fresh and in season to create very satisfying meals.
The no-reservations policy is understandable, but still a shame since it rules this out as a place to take grandma, the kids or others who don’t take well to lingering in the parking lot for a seat. Still, as simple and indispensable as the kitchen tool for which it’s named, Whisk is one of those precious places you almost hate to rave about for fear that the waits will get even longer.
Ambience: The white concrete-block walls, bare wooden tables and slow-swirling paddle fans are a good match for the no-frills menu and an ambience that is about as cozy (and noisy) as a train-station café.
- Lovely grilled, dry-rubbed skirt steak – blackened beef sliced and fanned over fresh baby greens and surrounded by an onion compote, roasted fingerling potatoes and green beans
- Creamy shrimp and coarse-ground grits with a sharp Cheddar edge – thumb-sized shrimp (choose four or eight) are snappy and tender, and smoky bits of bacon and feathery scallion slices lend a beautiful balance
- Bronze fried buttermilk chicken with smooth mashed potatoes and irresistible rosemary gravy (pictured)
- Hearty salads made with care and precision
- A well-stocked Charleston chicken salad with toasty walnuts, sweet raisins, red onions, chopped celery and a tangy Dijon mayo dressing
- Solid beers and unpretentious wines
- Guava cake with an old-fashioned sugar glaze
- Espresso flan with a toffee crumble
- Chocolate chip cookies
- Buttermilk pie