Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Lokal Burgers and Beer

One of the newest kids on the block near the heart of Coconut Grove, Florida is Lokal Burgers and Beer. The place recently opened and has been a hit amongst the locals, with a well priced menu paired with comfort food and an eclectic offering of beers. Our guests of honor who joined us for Sunday lunch, were our lovely parents who are oddly more opinionated than Statler and Waldorf from the Muppets. And, even stranger, is the fact that they liked the decorations and the overall ambience of the restaurant. One of the first things you notice when you walk in, is the bar with its cement countertop held up by cassette tapes. Paralleled to the bar is their logo displayed on a wall of corks and the table that we sat at was a repurposed wooden crate. The urban/street style decor that incorporates repurposed products and that "old school" vibe, give a fresh take on a stagnant array of cookie cutter bars/eateries that already exist in the Grove. 

That fresh take was also reflected in their menu. Lokal prides itself on offerring sustainability and ingredients that are indicative of the area, which is evident in there beer selection as well. Natalie had the Well's Banana Bread Beer that is a fruit beer from England with a rich taste and undertones of your mom's homemade banana bread. We began our food adventure with home-made guacamole and tortilla chips and some chili. Adequately flavored, but lacked a "wow" factor for the taste buds. Next up was the main course of burgers. I had the Frita Burger topped w/ guava jelly, melted Gruyere, stuffed w/ potato sticks and crispy bacon. Anytime that I see food where sweet and savory are joining together (especially involving guava), I have to get in on the action and try it. The burger was pretty good and did a great job of infusing the latin flavors. Natalie had the Childhood Dream Burger that didn't really live up to its name. The patty is surrounded by bacon and cheese and a skimpy donut. Even though it did not taste bad, there was really nothing to write home about in regards to it's flavor. Both burgers came with sweet potato fries and a delicious honey mustard made in-house with local honey. Our parents both had the Chik Chop Sandwich which they had no complains about with its free-range chicken, cheese, arugula and topped with more great-tasting honey mustard. 

The overall service was good and the staff was knowledgeable of food and drinks. It was also great to see the owners there talking it up with customers, making for a wonderful family environment, yet still a place for adults to go for happy hour. The only disappointment would be the size of the burgers (I usually like to consume my burgers in more than 6 bites, but that could be me just being a fat-ass, lol). 

Drumroll please...

Lokal Burgers and Beer
Food: 7
Ambience: 9
Price: 8
Service: 8

Lokal is a place to check out and try there locally inspired foods and beers joined with great decor and "old school" South  Florida flair. 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Whisk Gourmet And Catering

Hidden amongst the craziness of the mall and away from all the pre-teens and hormones, lies a restaurant that has grasped the essence of American dining while still adding their own unique flair. Whisk Gourmet and Catering is located near Sunset Place on 73rd and 56th Avenue and is tucked away behind the Chevron gasoline station in South Miami. In a celebration of our time off as teachers, we went there, Friday during winter break for lunch with our friends, Alexie and Natalie. Apparently, the Friday menu features their burgers and unfortunately it highlighted the one negative aspect, which was the amount of smoke from all the grilling. But, most of the smoke was overshadowed with a contemporary take on country decor mixed with touch of French cafe. In the true spirit of Southern inspired cooking, we began our food adventure with fresh brewed iced teas, homemade lemonade with just the right balance of sweet and tangy, along with a warm cornbread topped with pulled pork. Even though the cornbread paled in comparison to Natalie's take on the southern comfort carb and the pork was a little dry for our taste, the appetizer brought a buttery smile to our face and empty stomach.

Our palette was pleasantly surprised and corralled into a rodeo of flavor in our next round of food. We ordered four different sandwiches, each expressing new and healthy ways on American dining. I ordered the Roasted Turkey Sandwich, with it's brie cheese and cranberry mayo almost felt like Thanksgiving again. I switched sandwich halves with my friend, Alexie, who ordered the Hummus and Avocado Sandwich. As some of you may or may not know, my kryptonite is hummus and I currently believe that more than half of my body is made up of it since I eat soooooo much on a weekly basis. With it's alfalfa sprouts and fresh avocado on multigrain bread, it was so satisfying that I had to finish the remainder of my friends sandwich as well. The two Natalie's at the table traded off with the Grilled and Sliced Skirt Steak Sandwich and the Pimiento Cheese and Fried Green Tomato Sandwich. The skirt steak sandwich with it's red onion confit was a favorite, and we know my sister's kryptonite of leafy green arugula found in the fried green tomato sandwich was also a major hit with the ladies. And, there were certainly no complaints about the service. Our friendly waitress made great conversation with us and was quick to help in the decision process with much needed suggestions and was well versed and knowledgable of the menu.

To tally it all up. Drumroll please...

Whisk Gourmet and Catering:
Food: 8
Ambience: 8
Price: 7
Service: 8

"Wonder twin powers unite!"...we recommend to check it out and so do our friends...cause not only did the friends we went with recommend it, but we ran  into some more of our teacher friends enjoying the much needed break (Adriana, Melissa, and Ethel) who also love the little dive.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Harry's Pizzeria

After a night at Town Kitchen and Bar (that didn't go too well...read previous post for more details), we salvaged our desire for great food at Harry's Pizzeria. The restaurant is located in the heart of the design district on 39th St and North Miami Avenue and is owned and operated by the same chef as Michael's Genuine, an exquisite yet pricey restaurant that is nearby in Midtown. One of the best features you can find at this place is a limited menu of around 30 possible items. This is becoming a growing trend around Miami, especially with food trucks and new little dives around the city. It's all about discovering what you are good at and doing it well. This italian eatery has obviously found its niche as a pizzeria but with flare for gourmet flavors with overlooked and unusual pairings. We had four different pizzas to sample from. But before we get into pizzas, we had to start the night off with their fried polenta, their famous meatballs in sauce, and Caponata which is a spread of tomatoes, onions, roasted peppers, and olives. Though the focaccia bread served with the appetizers were nothing out of this world and need improvement, they still left a great taste in our mouths. 

The first was a delicious Pesto pizza that had a perfect combination of parmesan, garlic, olive oil, pine nuts, and basil. You can often find a disproportionate ratio of ingredients that can be overwhelming of a certain flavor; this pizza that is topped with homemade ricotta cheese, definitely hits the spot. The Slow Roasted Pork pizza with it's fig, fontina, caramelized onions, and Natalie's favorite leafy green, Arugula! (you have to say that out loud as though you are Oprah, and introducing your next guest...lol), did a great job in marrying (a la Mormon style) the salty, sweet, and savory. The Shortrib pizza, similarly has the same flavors of the 3 S's of salty, sweet, and savory, but with it's aged gruyere cheese topping added an extra complex layers. The figs popped in your mouth and with the pork, reminded me of our mother's bacon wrapped figs that she would make for the holidays.  The MGFD Bacon pizza was topped with Michael's famous style of bacon with fingerling potatoes. The potatoes on the olive oil infused crust was an interesting pairing that would certainly not make you worry about counting your carbs. This dynamic duo along with our friends, Vicky and Enrique (What? you thought we ate those 4 pizzas and appetizers by ourselves?), had a great time eating followed by a wonderful stroll through the design district checking out the latest trends in Art Walk. 

To tally it up:

Harry's Pizzeria:
Food: 9
Ambience: 7
Price: 8
Service: 7

This dynamic duo says to definitely check out Harry's Pizzeria!!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Town Kitchen and Bar

Being the crazy peeps that we are...we decided to make a grading scale for the places we visit. Everything will be graded on 1-10 scale. 1, being the worst, and 10 being the best. The location will be evaluated on 4 different categories consisting of taste, ambience, service, and price. 

So....let the grading begin. Our first place we are going to post about is Town Kitchen and Bar in South Miami near Sunset Place. Though for brunch on the weekends the place is a little treat with unlimited mimosas and yummy breakfast items, the dinner is a completely different story. We went there on Saturday night and dined outside because finally the winter weather in Miami was delicious...probably the only delicious thing of the night. We started off the night on a good note with the chicken nachos. It was great to have nachos where all the chips were crunchy and correctly balanced with the right amount of spiciness.  And then things started to go downhill from there...Natalie had "The Works" burger, I had the sliced steak sandwich, and our friend Enrique had "the Black and Blue" burger. It took at least a half hour to get our food, which came with no fries. Not only did the fries come when we were almost done with our burgers, but they came cold! 

It honestly is insulting when you go to a sit down restaurant and the roasted red peppers were not done on the grill, but rather from a jar you can get at the grocery store. Our friend Enrique, who usually finishes everything on his plate, could not complete the meal due to lack of flavor. In regards to service, the place failed miserably! We only saw are waiter 3 times in the span of almost two hours, and at one point I literally got up to find the pitcher of water and served ourselves a glass. For a sit down restaurant, in an upscale part of South Miami with other competing places nearby, the price of our food of $13-$16 for burgers and fries was completely not worth our time. 

To tally it all up:

Town Kitchen and Bar:
Food: 3
Ambience: 7
Price: 3
Service: 1

As far as dinner goes, they unfortunately will not be getting anymore business from this dynamic duo!

So...here is something new for both Natalie and Danny

If you are familiar with Natalie and Danny already, you know that we are both very opinionated and have a good sense of style/taste. If you don't know us yet,  you will now, and I'm sure/hope you're going to love us...cause we are Phenomenal! We grew up in Miami and are the son and daughter of immigrants. Our father is Cuban, our mother is Colombian (and no, she's not a drug dealer...as far as we know), and the joining of these two different cultures has expanded our tastes and flavors for great food  married with great ambience and a desire for all things fun. My sister, Natalie has a great eye and is extremely creative/artsy, and I honestly think that she could win a throw-down with Martha Stewart. She knows how to throw a great party and has an aptitude for cooking, baking, art, event planning, design, home decor...the list goes on and on. 

We currently share an apartment together in South Miami and even though I like to cook as well, she is usually the chef and I'm the maid (which is fine by me, since I'm OCD about cleaning). My love for food is coupled with a veracious appetite for all things fitness/active and enjoy going running, cycling, yoga-ing...really anything. Besides food, art, travel, and music, we love to hang out with friends and are always on the hunt for great new places. And, hopefully the more places we post about, the more you will get to know us, the places we love and hate, and all of the other little adventures that life loves to throw our way...let the fun begin, enjoy the ride, and Bon Appetit!