The Who: A collaboration between former high school friends Jason Odio (Sidebar) and executive chef Michael Beltran (Cypress Room), this spot aims to elevate Coconut Grove’s dining scene.
The Space: A sliver of a patio wedged between Taurus and the new Spasso (formerly Calamari) is made inviting with candles, hanging lanterns and greenery. Indoors is a hip-but-polished space with white subway tiles, blond wood tables, an open kitchen and a well-stocked bar. There’s also a subterranean wine cellar and private wine “cave” dining room left over from the space’s former identity as La Bottega wine bar.
The Dishes: New American cooking with a focus on seasonal ingredients. Prices are reasonable with starters $14-$24 and mains $19-$29. “We use guerrilla farmers,” says Beltran of their purveyors. “The underground of the underground. The radishes we get are out of this world. If it’s not in season, we won’t use it.”
Petite, homemade Parker House rolls doused in butter start things off, then it’s on to snacks of chicken liver with red pepper jelly and roasted oysters with bone marrow butter. A venison tartare is topped with Lake Meadows egg and espelette pepper while Beltran’s Latin roots can be detected in the foie gras dish made with sour orange vinegar, ember-roasted plantains and cacao nibs. Larger mains are simple but feature fresh twists on staples like a local fish with fennel, white beans and herb nage; a half wood-grilled chicken with local vegetables and salsa verde; and a grilled short rib done pastrami style with a five-day brine and peppery crust.
Pastry chef Dallas Wynne shows signs of her mentor Hedy Goldsmith with desserts like the sour orange doughnuts with wood grilled pineapple marmalade, chocolate cremeux with candied popcorn, pretzel crumble, cocoa nibs and malted milk ice cream, and crème fraiche cheesecake with seasonal fruit and graham crumble.
The Bottom Line: A Cypress Room protégé steps out on his own with an ambitious Coconut Grove spot.