This week I tried the latest pubbelly project, PB Steak, and was lucky enought to snatch a ticket to the great battle between Daniel “King of Braise” Serfer and Bradley “Wall Street” Kilgore.
The success of the Pubbelly Group is astonishing. Not long ago on a Saturday night I drove around “Pubbelly square”, or what is the corner of Purdy Av. and 20th street on Miami Beach and every single one of their ventures was packed, with a waiting crowd outside. Even the new kid on the block, PB Steak which is actually further south on Purdy between 18th street and Dade Blvd had a sea of people outside waiting to be seated.
The success is well founded; ever since the original Pubbbelly opened in early 2011 it has been subject to a cult like following from both locals and out-of- towners. The “Asian influenced” Gastropub has gathered its fans through a clever combination of tapas style dishes that pack flavour punches through original combinations. I still remember like it was yesterday the day I tried their pork belly with pumpkin puree, probably the best thing I ate in 2011 and a dish I can’t avoid repeating the few times I’ve gone back. I also still remember how it has been lauded “the place to be” during the 2011 and 2012 Miami Wine and Food Festivals, something New York City chef Marc Forgione is apparently looking to repeat this year as per his interview in the latest issue of Miami magazine. A mention in last Sunday’s travel section from the New York Times won’t hurt its chances either.
After the original Pubbelly came the Sushi, the Barcelonetta and the Macchialina, all of which I have been to and have liked, particularly the latter. It almost feels as they have developed the brand to such a stage where they could open a vegan restaurant and people would flock there.
The latest venture, PB Steak is no exception. I had lunch there recently and was able to try a few of their starters, a burger and a steak and left wanting to come back soon to try the other cuts and dishes.
I had never seen or had them before, so steak tartare sliders where the first items that caught my eye. They come in an exquisite sweet potato roll and there’s a bit of truffle oil in there to knock you out. Amazing bite. The sweetbreads , something I have grown accustomed to eating since the Animal pop-up at Harry’s Pizzeria, had a great tomato based sauce and crispy batter. A foie-gras mousse was the perfect spread for a warm brioche style bun.
The burger and fries where also a stand-out, helped by a secret sauce and a generous slab of bacon. And the ribeye, dry aged for 28 days was cooked perfectly and was one of the most tender steaks I’ve had in recent memory.
By the way thank you Jose Mendin (executive Pubbelly chef who I bumped into while at PB Steak) for the yellowfish ceviche tartare tacos which were also very nice. Welcome PB Steak and I’m happy to see the group continuing to grow. Miami should be proud of it.
Also last week, and thanks in part to Miami food blogger The Chowfather, two of Miami’s most buzzy-busy-est chefs decided to put on some gloves and hold a 5 round fight around who could make the best dishes from 5 different, and rather challenging proteins. Daniel Serfer, who I recently baptized the “King of Braise”, since that boy could braise just about anything and make it taste great, was on the left corner and played host. Bradley “Wall Street” Kilgore, baptized Wall Street by Andrew Zimmern due to his slick hairstyle, was in the right corner.
What a great night. Not only we got to taste 12 different items, making the experience tasting menu-esque, we got a first hand close up at two very talented local chefs showcasing their talents.
Every single dish was excellent, with a few higher highs and lower highs. The beginning showed these boys were not kidding around, as Daniel recreated his staple mini muffin sandwich using a stone crab claw and smoked trout caviar, and Bradley impressed with the ever so amazing Surf n’ Turf combination of pork and crustaceous.
The second protein choice, rabbit, I enjoyed the least but only because I grew up eating rabbit “al salmorejo”, one of my gradmother’s specialties which is rabbit marinated in wine, vinegar, garlic and spices, fried in olive oil and the simmered in the sauce until tender. Much respect to both chefs for chosing this very unpopular protein though, which both paired wonderfully with a delicious macaroni salad and watermelon in the case of Dan and creamy gnocchis in the case of Bradley. It showed they didn’t just want to cook fish and meat, as they could have; they wanted a challenge and that’s what they were looking for.
The next courses continued elevating the bar, shrimp gave us Scampi style by Dan and a “chorizo” by Bradley; followed by two supberb plays on duck, one tartare style (Bradley) with a strong emphasis on technique from a gelatinous texture and a great salad by Dan, who showed us his softer side with delicate bits of small duck lardon and a carefully placed quail egg.
The last protein, lamb , gave them both the chance to gambit. Bradley was all about a perfect sear, a couple of clever sauces, decor on a plate. Dan was all about the perfect braise, the succulent mash, the creamy sauce to top it off. And that’s how they both ended the night; lamb belly for Brad and lamb neck for Dan.
Bradley’s wife Soraya, gave them both a reason to be on top of their game with two delicious sweet endings. A chocolate cayenne lollypop and a citrus soaked white cake with blood orange froth, foie crumble and caramel ice creams.
About halfway through the meal I started rating each dish on a scale from 1 to 10. A 7 here, an 8 there, 5 for the rabbits, and in the end, when I added them up , both chefs got the same score! I know both The Chowfather and Frodnesor, who were both there and have already covered the dinner on their blogs, also declared a tie, so I can only say that the consensus is unanimous: a rematch is in order. Hopefully it will be soon because it was a tremendous night.
That’s it for this week, see you next week