2 stars for "local sensibility" in the Gables
Walking into The Local Craft Food & Drink made me feel like I was going back to an old New York City bar on the Upper West Side. The homey, low-lit atmosphere makes for a comfortable night out (even if menu reading requires a cellphone for illumination) in the spot on Coral Gables’ restaurant row that formerly housed Randazzo’s. The feel may be Northeastern, but the talent behind the operation is homegrown: chef Alberto Cabrera, whose resume includes some of Miami’s most high-profile kitchens, from the visionary La Broche to Norman’s and Karu y Y.
From the pig ear salad and Anson Mills grits to the Palmetto Creek Farms pork and chicken liver mousse, Cabrera’s menu — not to mention his restaurant’s name — is an homage to local hero Michael Schwartz and his Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink. Even the dessert selection looks as if it was culled from MGFD pastry chef Hedy Goldsmith’s recipe box.
Ambience: The first wall you see is brick and then, across the room, swirly pressed aluminum above a chair rail. Chalkboards line a burnished old mahogany bar, and tables nestle snugly on the black and white terrazzo floor.
- A well-edited list of 20 craft brews on draft
- The charcuterie board with cheeses including Winter Park Dairy’s Florida Tomme and Colorado's Haystack hard goat cheese
- Chicken liver mousse served in a mason jar
- Olives and crusty bread
- Scrawny, but nicely goopy chicken wings with a kicky Korean chile powder
- A generous helping of tender, tiny steamed mussels in a shallow pool of broth
- Pale and nicely crisp house-made Cuban crackers with nostalgic, but somewhat unsatisfying, Cuban-style ham paté and Southern-style pimento cheese
- Delightful house-made pickles
- Tasty romesco sauce with fresh-chopped cilantro
- A creamy rice pudding topped with paprika-dusted meringue and candied orange rind
- Chocolate pot du crème with blackened baby marshmallows, bits of pineapple and caramel corn
- A fun menu that melds Caribbean, Mediterranean, Southern, British and French influences in one little 50-seater
What Didn't Work
- Malanga tater tots that tasted of nothing but oil
- Greasy fish and chips - grouper cheeks in a baggy batter
- Sodden and inedible skinny fries (they were addictively good on another visit)
- A dry “limited availability” burger with a slab of Cheddar and a slice of Benton Farms ham served on a stale brioche bun too big for the beef patty
- Dry Italian-style pork meatballs with "silly" squid ink
- A young & unknowledgeable, albeit eager, staff
- A jarringly sour yogurt panna cotta with soggy peanuts, pine nuts, walnuts and golden raisins and a strip of candied bacon brittle