Coconut Grove needs more good restaurants and I am often at a loss at where to go there. So when I got word of a new chef, Ted Mendez, at Mayfair Kitchen, with a pedigree of Barton G, both his eponymous restaurant and the one at Villa Casuarina, I moved a visit to the top of my list.
Mendez is a big fan of contemporary comfort food which, as you know, is one of my favorites. Plus, the menu is heavily laced with small plates of what they call the “garden, land and sea”. Since the menu doubles for lunch and dinner, it also includes soups and salads, sandwiches, wood fired items as well as entrees (“Long plates”).
Whatever you do order the wood fired garlic lavash bread that’s crisp and addictive, especially as it’s teamed with garlic “pudding” on the side seasoned with thyme, sage, rosemary and milk that has been left to marinate with the garlic. It’s almost like a preserve. Better yet, team it up with the wood fired and baked spinach laced with parmesan cheese. Even the kids will eat this spinach.
In the small plates department (16 in all), another winner are the plump seared scallops teamed with the unlikely spaetzle, a type of small spiral like pasta from Northern Europe.
Mendez is rightfully proud of his boneless roast chicken which he says it took him 10 years to perfect. It’s made on the grill so is a little crusty on the outside yet very moist and tender inside, in a delicate thyme au jus, and attractively garnished with a quail egg. Accompanying the chicken is a small copper pot of delectable cubed sweet potato hash.
Seafood lovers will enjoy the local yellowtail, a welcome change from the usual branzino or salmon. It’s served whole and boned, grilled, with a slightly crunchy sauce made with tasty toasted pepitas and served with asparagus, salsa verde and avocado. Another recommended choice is the swordfish. All entrees come with vegetables, so no need to order sides. Finish it off with desserts ranging from crispy apple doughnuts and double chocolate torte with brulee banana to profiterolles.
Prices are reasonable, with many dishes suitable for sharing. Small plates and salads average in the low teens. Sandwiches, which come with fries or dressed local greens, are in the midteens and long plates mostly in the 20’s.
Wine scores a good size pour, 6 ounces, and start at $9; bottles at $42.
Service is friendly and attentive. The restaurant was recently refurbished though I think it doesn’t do the cuisine justice. There’s indoor and outdoor seating. We sat outdoors looking out onto the tropical garden courtyard, in an area with a few tables beside a fountain. We quite enjoyed hearing the sounds of the fountain as well as the delightful temperature this time of year.