Lots of news this month on the eating front, from new eatery openings and a notable closing, to food products to put on your list, and a terrific restaurant find — Barmeli 69 thanks to a reader tip.
In summer, somehow I seem to have a craving for comfort food. Maybe it’s thoughts of picnics and barbecues. So off I went to the opening of Federal Donuts in Wynwood, whose specialty is Korean style fried chicken and donuts. Federal is an import from Philadelphia, a city that knows its comfort food (think submarines, cheese steaks, ices, and more). The eatery is the brainchild of James Beard Award winning chef Mike Solomonv and former investment banker who became chef, Steve Cook, who was raised in Miami. The chicken is brined and cured for eight hours, then fried in a tempura like batter. It’s served dry, wet or naked. The best glaze is the chili garlic, and dry seasoning, the za-atar. All I can say is it’s to die for. I bought a half a chicken (you can buy a half for $11 or whole for $21, or wings), thinking I’d have a bite or two and take the rest home. I ate the entire thing at the one seating. The skin was super crispy, some parts even crackling like a chicarron (pork rind). It’s served with a honey glazed donut (good but not great).
Donuts also shine, two categories — “hot and fresh” and “fancy.” The fancy doughnuts rotate in flavor throughout the year. Right now they include guava poppy, strawberry shortcake,chocolate eclair, and black & white among others.The hot and fresh are made-to-order, and then covered in flavored sugar including strawberry lavender, cinnamon brown sugar or cookies ‘n cream and served piping hot.The donuts to get are the cinnamon brown sugar cake donut and the black and white frosted specialty donut. There’s Panther coffee if you want to come for breakfast (they open at 8 a.m.). Hot and fresh donuts are $1.75 each; fancy are $2.75 each. And BTW, though the chicken is good cold, to have the full experience, definitely eat it hot for the full crispy goodness. Federal Donuts, 250 NW 24th street (T.305-573-9393)
Light news bites —- Sadly, The Deck at Island Gardens has closed. I heard it was due to permit problems……Returned recently to Byblos which is one of my favorite restaurants in town — highly creative menu selection, everything super tasty, good service, attractive ambiance. Sure enough, it was as good as I remembered it. Pricey, but worth every penny…..
The New York Times named Wellshire Premium all natural uncured beef franks #1 hot dog. #2 was Hebrew National. We got a package at Whole Foods and completely agree. No major differences, but it was decidedly better — a larger dog, less taste of chemicals (no preservatives), and a fuller taste. …..ViaEmilia9 serving the cuisine of Emilia Romagna, and a favorite Italian restaurant, just reopened after some refurbishing and menu revamp to include more vegetarian dishes like Cannelloni alle Verdure (cannelloni with vegetables), Tagliatelle carciofi e Limone (tagliatelle with artichokes and lemon), and Florentina Straccetti di pollo con carciofi shredded chicken with artichokes. Sounds delish!
Famous New York bakery Sullivan Street bakery, known for its bread, opened a wholesale bakery here. The bread is being sold at Perricone’s near Brickell Avenue. There are three kinds, the Italian baguette called stirato and loaves with sesame seeds called sesamo and without, pugliese……The Miami Design District announced today that leases have been signed for two restaurant spaces that will be helmed by Chef Brad Kilgore of Alter and Brava. The new restaurants will be in the District’s latest architectural addition, Paradise Plaza. Slated to open mid-2018, Ember will be a wood fire American bistro and Kaido, a Japanese-influenced cocktail lounge and restaurant. Later this year, new restaurants from renowned chefs Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Joël Robuchon will also open in Paradise Plaza, and New Orleans’ popular St. Roch Market will open in Palm Court….New retail wine shop and tasting room/eatery, WineDate, recently opened at 2700 SW 3rd Street. The owners call it a “European style” tasting bar. Patrons can order wine by the glass or choose a bottle from their large selection, just paying $12 for corkage over the retail price. A selection of small plates, snacks, salads, paninis and charcuterie are offered. Friday and Saturday nights from 8 p.m. there’s live music.
Erik, a devoted reader and serious foodie who has been the source of several terrific finds, tipped me off to BarMeli 69, a Greek wine bar and restaurant at 69th Street and Biscayne. He scored once again. I went there with friends, one Lebanese, who really knows his Med cuisine. He felt right at home with the small dishes, which is the way BarMeli’s menu is organized, along with an indication of what country the dish is from. He did the ordering which included Amalfi flatbread — grilled zucchini, goat cheese and mint; grilled whole sardines with toasted pinenuts; Merguez lamb sausage with lima beans; grilled octopus with chickpea salad; and the saganaki. He said, and we all agreed, the dishes were top notch except for the octopus, though don’t miss the spectacle of the flaming saganaki cheese (see video clip below). We washed everything down with a bottle of wine from the lesser known region of Puglia in Italy. For dessert, a scrumptious lemon coconut cake with passion fruit gelato, a recipe of the owner’s mother. There are also entrees ranging from fish and lamb shank to steak frites and pork chop. Not surprisingly, the place was packed, because the food was excellent, and the menu original. Plus, everything tasted homemade. It’s a small place with dim lighting, and buzzy scene. The only thing is that it can be quite noisy after 9 p.m., so if that’s an issue for you, go early. The bill for two? $80. BarMeli 69, 6927 Biscayne Boulevard (T.305-759-5558). Dinner only.