The goods: “Top Chef” alum chef Micah Edelstein makes Downtown Miami a bit more palatable with NeMesis, a whimsical, bohemian eatery on the ground floor of the Legal Art building on North Miami Avenue. Edelstein (Grass) makes you feel like you’re dining in her quirky yet inviting home. It’s the kind of neighborhood restaurant you’d expect to find in the newly gentrified borderlands of Brooklyn or San Francisco.
Ambience: The modest dining room has large picture windows, a striking sculpture made of neckties and large framed photographs of celebrities like Helena Bonham Carter and Woody Allen (courtesy of the chef’s sister, a London photographer). Church pews flank glass-top tables, and a handsome wooden armoire forms the backbone of the tiny bar. In the evening, the small room has an intimate, private-party feel.
The grub: Globe-trotting comfort food with influences from the Middle East, Italy and the chef’s native South Africa. Prices are a bit high for the neighborhood: starters (“sexy nibbles”) are $6-$13, small plates average $12 (including a glass of wine or beer) and mains are $17-$33.
Start with the focaccia snack – four mini-mouthfuls of toasted bread topped with rosemary mascarpone and caramelized shallots. The Tuscan “sushi” brings figs and mascarpone wrapped in prosciutto. The “cool couples” section of the menu pairs small plates with a wine or beer. The purple Peruvian pinoli pancakes (pictured) with house-made chicken sausage and hibiscus syrup comes with a glass of Colorado Maple Nut Brown Ale. And the smoked veal bobotie, a South African spiced meat dish, is paired with a Lindhorst Pinotage from South Africa.
The chef has a fondness for wild game. Ostrich is presented as carpaccio topped with tea-smoked tomato oil, and bison is plated with a butternut sage hash. Save room for dessert. The malva pudding (really a moist spice cake) or white chocolate bread pudding in a pool of Greek yogurt make a hearty finish to the global feast.
Verdict: A bohemian downtown bistro helmed by Micah “the wandering chef” Edelstein