The goods: The Brickell area is now a thriving residential hub brimming with young professionals. And it needs a neighborhood watering hole, a place where you can order a burger or a steak, have a few beers, hang with your friends, make new friends and marvel at the Miami skyline. The newly-opened JB Kitchen and Bar aims to be that friendly gastropub.
Ambiance: You may be familiar with JB’s cavernous spot in downtown. It was the former Badrutt’s Place owned by the family behind a posh resort in St. Moritz. The owners haven’t changed but the space has – they’ve done away with the elevated VIP section and opened up the dining room with a massive square bar outfitted with flat screen TV’s and a daily happy hour where drinks and appetizers are half off. The place still retains its Euro-tinged swagger with stitched white leather banquettes, sea blue walls and polished wood floors.
The grub: Peruvian-tinged American comfort food. The kitchen is headed by two chefs – Frederick Kelly who worked at Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink and Jeremy Fernandez, whose background includes a stint at the Forge. In contrast to Badrutt’s, the prices here are geared for casual dining with starters averaging $8, burgers and salads priced under $15 and mains in the mid-$20’s.
Go for the ceviches here (either tuna or mixed seafood), made with orange juice instead of lemon for a less tart, but still refreshing finish. The spinach and artichoke dip won’t win any awards for creativity but makes for a fine bar snack, accompanied by crisp wonton chips. There are half a dozen burger and sandwich choices including a hearty braised short rib made with caramelized onions and fontina cheese on a baguette. Mains include the Peruvian staple Lomo Saltado composed of filet mignon tips sautéed with onion, garlic, tomatoes and soy sauce and Carmelized Jumbo Sea Scallops served with a shaved fennel and blood orange vinaigrette.
Desserts include standbys like crème brulee and molten chocolate cake but you may opt to cap the meal with one of the fruity cocktails selections like the Watermelon Mint Cucumber Margarita made with tequila, triple sec, mint infused simple syrup and muddled cucumber or the Blood Orange Cosmo Martini, made with blood orange infused vodka, triple melon juice and lemon juice.
Verdict: The swanky Badrutt’s Place is reinvented as a less formal neighborhood gastropub with an array of burgers and comfort food like Lobster Mac and Cheese.