It is all about the pork at Pubbelly, the instantly crowded gastropub near Purdy Avenue that flaunts its fetish for all things porcine. The menu, kitchen and the dining room are small and the restaurant is always packed, so choices are well curated. Even a handful of vegetarian options exist. Turns out chefs and partners José Mendín and Sergio Navarro, who both did stints at La Broche, Nobu, Sushi Samba and Mercadito, are from Puerto Rico and use the flavors from the East and West with great success. They are clearly influenced by the modern masters whose cookbooks line the bar shelves. The techniques and sensibilities of David Chang, Thomas Keller and Ferran Adria are well represented.
Likewise, the dedication to detail in the kitchen is an anomaly on Miami Beach. The ingredients and the combinations are as righteously composed as a Tom Waits ballad. The menu, with its mix of Asian, Mediterranean and Caribbean flavors, works on the plate and in the belly, though it can start to feel like a bit like a lengthy binge complete with foodie hangover in the morning.
Ambience: Looking around at the well-worn brick walls and stubbly wooden furnishings you feel more as if you are in a hipster pub in a crooked Brooklyn brownstone than steps from the bay in tropical Miami.
- A fan of sliced Pacific coast amberjack dotted with marble-sized beets, the zesty zing of lemon rind and a huff of dried miso
- Tartare of shortrib with quail egg and green mustard
- Nasquali Bay oysters
- Florida stone crab served with yuzu-spiked mustard sauce
- The McBelly – a square puff of a bun layered with spicy kimchi, sweet barbecue glaze, crispy onion shavings and fresh pickles
- Pork sliced with a layer of butterscotch sauce, bits of pumpkin and corn powder
- Local heirloom tomatoes laced with fluffy tofu and delicate shiso leaves
- Brussels sprout trounced with sous vide duck egg that forms a rich carbonara-like sauce with pancetta and Parmigiano cheese
- Kimchi with slivers of celery root accented with a mayonnaisey brush
- Chillo frito – fried red snapper, gently scored, fried until the color of Caribbean sand and dressed ever-so-subtly with see-through lengths of cucumber, a subtly spiced lemongrass aioli and tender leaves of cilantro
- A traditional mofongo accented with umami from shoyu broth and fried bits of pork belly
- Delicious salty, slightly pan-fried pork belly and scallion dumplings dotted with a sweetish soy-miso glaze and pea shoots
- Duck dumplings with pumpkin and almonds and brown butter
- A warm, welcoming & chatty staff
- Managing partner Andreas Schreiner’s genuine hospitality
- A bowl of frozen yogurt topped with bite-size cubes of fudgy brownies
- A cleverly edited, if slim, volume of wines from France, Italy and South America, as well as obscure sakes and nice brews on tap and bottled