Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Federal Food Drink & Provisions

I've had this place bookmarked on Yelp forever but was always too lazy to make the drive out to this neck of the woods. The Federal Food Drink & Provisions offers food unlike anything I've ever had in Miami. Eating here reminded me of meals I've had in hardcore foodie cities such as Napa, San Fran, and Philly. Meals that always make me say "remember the ____ at ____? Damn that was the bomb!" when eating something similar that doesn't hold a candle to the original. Not to be a traitor to my 'hood, but I really didn't think food like this existed in Miami, much less in a dingy strip mall next to a Dunkin Donuts. This meal was one of the best meals I've had in a long, long time. Service was excellent, the place was charming and comfortable, and the food... oh, the food.

We arrived shortly after they opened and were lucky enough to have scored a table in a sea of tables displaying "Reserved" signs. People, make a reservation! This place filled up fast and furious. We were fascinated by the ambiance and decor - funky, woodsy, cozy - felt like a roadside diner in a wooded area somewhere in the Carolinas. They also have outside seating, but sitting inside amongst the jacklopes really adds to the experience. The staff - all wearing plaid and jeans - were extremely courteous and attentive.

We started off with some beers - a free one courtesy of my Yelp check-in. The waiter brought us an old favorite, Magic Hat #9, along with a recommendation from the bartender - White Rascal. White Rascal wasn't our thing - it was kind of spicy - so we requested another Magic Hat which came out quickly and without an issue. Cheers!

We looked through the menu and were a bit bamboozled - so much to choose from! After reading through some reviews and blogs to assist in my decision making process, we decided to start with the Cheese Biskits, the Shrimp & Grits and the Jar-O-Duck.

The Biskits were huge. Big, fluffy, soft, doughy delicousness covered in melted cheese, honey and coarse salt bits. The dough had a rich buttermilky taste, and the melted cheese added to the indulgence. It came with a side of Vermont butter which added the perfect touch of silky moisture and hint of buttery flavor.

The Shirmp & Grits were out of control. Chunky, thick meaty pieces of Creole style shrimp laid upon a fluffy yet very crisp bed of cheesy grits. The greens on the side were awesome - and I hate greens. They were leafy but perfectly wilted and seasoned delicately. It came in a hot skillet which made the bottom crisp the grits giving it nice texture.

Now - the star of the show. A nice guy who works here said "get the duck, it changed my life." I am all for trying new things, however myhusband isn't as daring and shot me a "you're on your own" look. The Jar-O-Duck is accompanied by crisp slices of toast, caramelized sweet potato and a dash of perfectly charred marshmallow fluff. I layered on the duck, a bit of sweet potato, and smothered it with the fluff as instructed by the lady (chef?) who brought it out. Holy Moses. This eclectic mix of flavors - all so different but so perfect together - sent my tastebuds and all senses over the edge. The duck was so tasty, the sweet potato and marshmallow brought everything together so perfectly, and the toast added a nice crisp touch even though it's purpose is to serve as a vessel for the masterpiece that is the combination of these items. After nagging enough, I finally got my husband try it and before I knew it, he was spreading duck like a mad man saying "look what you got me doing." He loved it so much he said "this could be dessert," to which I quickly replied "yes, it could.... but it's not." If the food is this good I didn't want to even fathom the thought of skipping dessert here.

hideous picture, but you get the point

After much consideration we decided to skip the main course and go straight for dessert. My heart ached as I grieved the desire of devouring their lamb burger, but I was so full I knew I would'nt enjoy dessert if I had another savory morsel. We decided to shoot for the Banana Bread Pudding. This dessert was excellent - not too sweet, not mushy, good firm texture drenched in a creamy sauce and caramel. It came topped with chocolate chips which melted in my mouth and chunks of fresh, sweet banana. Awesomeness at it's best.

In summary, this place is awesome. I plan to go back this week for their Brews & Bellies event (info on their Facebook page) and will most definitely be back for their Sunday brunch - the menu is unique and filled with awesomeness. More reviews to come!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Latin House Burger & Taco Bar

I'm starting this off with blunt honesty and no shame at all: I am freaking hooked on Latin House Burger & Taco Bar! I have been here 3 times in short time this place has been open. The fact that it's so darn close to my house is a double edged sword. It's awesome because I can pop in at any time without dealing with Miami's brutal traffic, yet it's killing me because my frequent flyer status will eventually lead to a nice little muffin top (ha!) and the fat girl to come out where she is not welcome!

Visit number 1 was great: hubby and I popped in late on a random Thursday night and had no complaints, which is rare for a new place since they are always working out a few kinks here and there. The place is pretty badass - love the decor, plain but edgy, the wall art is sick! I wish they would dim the lights a bit to give it a cozier feel, but overall the decor is on the money. My only complaint on this visit is that they still didn't have their booze license up and running but the taps were visible which made my mouth water for my favorite beer, Purple Haze. I wish I would've known of the BYOB status at the time, but that just made me want to come back.

Service was great. Our waitress hustled and took great care of us. She knew the menu well and was able to make good recommendations. The chef came by and personally greeted us and thanked us for stopping by, which was so nice since it shows hospitality and appreciation. Speaking of the menu - they offer a good variety of tacos, burritos, burgers, etc. It's small but loaded with options, which I can appreciate since I am a quality not quantity kinda gal. They offer a wide selection of craft brews on draft. I knew what I wanted so didn't ask for samples, but I saw them giving others little shot glasses to try. Sweet touch!

We started off with the Queso Fondu which came out bubbling (see bubbles in pic, wish I had a video) and very fragrant. The tortilla chips were fresh and crisp. The cheese itself was ooey gooey and very flavorful. I found it a bit greasy for my taste but I told my conscience to zip it and wolfed it down regardless.

Next up - we decided to take it easy and just order some tacos since it was late and we were already sinning by eating out on a weekday. We each ordered 4 to get a taste of as many flavors as possible: Cilantro-Lime Chicken, Chorizo, Cabo Wabo, Carne Asada, & Fire House Shrimp. They also offer a Veggie, Ribeye Steak and Calamari. (Please note picture below is missing pico and lettuce on some as I don't like fresh veggies on anything.)

All of the tacos were awesome. Seriously. Carne Asada's meat was tender and juicy, the seasoning on the cilantro-lime chicken was tangy and herby, the chorizo had a nice kick to it but was a tad greasy (I found the culprit for the cheese!) however avocado lime crema added a cooling factor which was amazeballs. Now - this is where I declare my love. My husband and I had it out over which taco rocked more - Cabo Wabo or Fire House Shrimp. My fat little heart was torn. I was a bit apprehensive when my tacos came loaded with cabbage. As I said, I hate veggies. However, I decided to be a daredevil and just go with it. Holy Moses - cabbage, where have you been all my life? The subltle sweetness, the crunch, wow! Love. The fish on the Cabo Wabo was perfectly crispy but still flaky and delicious inside. The batter truly is perfection. The shrimp was lightly battered, dressed in a tangy but oh-so-sweet sauce that made my mouth confused like a drunk tourist taking tequila shots in Cancun. Damnit! Damnit it all! I couldn't decide which one I loved more.

From left: Fire House Shrimp, Chorizo, Cabo Wabo, Carne Asada
Carne Asada close-up - avocado lime crema is out of control

I asked about dessert and our waitress described the balls to us - THE BALLS! These little things must be was the phrase HOLY BALLS comes from, as they must have been (or should be) blessed by the Pope. Geez. Chunks of brownie dipped in cake batter and deep fried, topped with leche condensada and powdered sugar. It was incredible. My husband opposed to me ordering such a sinful dish at such a late hour but didn't say a peep and we scarfed it down like it was our last meal on earth. It came paired with a crunchy substance which I came to find out was jicama when the chef saw the confused look on my face and hollered at me from the bar. The jicama was tangy and crunchy and added a nice touch to the overall creaminess of the dish.

And with that - we left full and happy and destined to return.

Visit number two was prompted by a Facebook post sharing their Heat game special "$2 off beers and $2 tacos" which lead to an insatiable craving for Cabo Wabos and Purple Haze. Off we went for another awesome meal and great service. The chef came up to us again to greet us and a lady who I assume is the manager came by to check on us a few times. These people know service is key. It's nice to be remembered and greeted personally, this kind of service is a lost art.

I had a Purple Haze and hubs a UFO. Both were ice cold, frothy and delicious.

I discovered that Purple Haze and Cabo Wabo's should get married and have babies since they work so perfectly together.

This time I ordered my two favorites - 2 Cabo Wabos and 2 Fire House Shrimp tacos. And this this I forgot to skip the pico and again, was pleasantly surprised at why I have been skipping such an important component for so long.

We decided to skip the balls this time but were told by staff that they are currently working on a few exclusive desserts with Sweetness Bakeshop right next door. I can't wait to see what the masterminds of indulgent desserts and Lating House Grill will come up with.

Visit number 3 was completely unplanned and very short. My friend texted that she was finally trying the place after seeing my reviews. Coincidentally, I was in the same shopping center getting beautified and she invited me over for a beer. How could I resist? I flip-flopped over with toe spacers in and all and enjoyed a cold Purple Haze... and with that visit, I proudly earned this title on Yelp...

Latin House Burger & Taco Bar
9565 SW 72 Street
Miami, FL 33173

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Brews & Bites 2012

I am an absolute sucker for food festivals, especially those offered with discounts via websites like Living Social and such. I purchased tickets for the Miami Wine & Food Festival's Brews & Bites Craft Beer Tasting event for $25 a pop through one of those sites so my expectations were low. Thank goodness. It wasn't a total bust though, allow me to explain. The event was held in the patio area of Mary Brickell Village, which made for a lovely evening due to the nice weather. And that's it.

The food was nothing stellar - the only memorable thing I ate all night was the chicken wings from Fado. Those suckers were big, juicy, and smothered in a sauce that still haunts my dreams. I hate chicken wings, I will only eat them when inebriated and with limited options for filler food. These wings however, we're so captivatingly tasty that I kept going back for more. Luckily, Fado had enough to feed this inner fatty and the 3 inner fatties who came along for the event: my sister, my mom (the original bottomless pit) and my aunt, another closet fatty. If we weren't Venezuelan and totally vain we would be a fat chick biker gang - on Hovaround scooters. But I digress....

I also enjoyed the guacamole from Rosa Mexicano, but that wasn't a surprise since its actually one of my favorites.

Micosukee had very yummy ceviche, it was fresh and tangy. They also had a huge cheese display, which looked incredibly appetizing until the dude serving the cheese adhered to the "one for you, two for me policy" and started hitting on my mom. I can forgive the latter but I really can't look past someone, especially a stranger, thinking its groovy tunes to share a dish with moi. No sir, no thank you.

I also enjoyed the Pulled Pork Sandwich from Timo. The meat was saucy and well seasoned.

The beer situation was good times. As a self proclaimed beer whore I had a grand old time sipping (ok and maybe guzzling a bit, whatever) cold ones through the night. I enjoyed the Sierra Nevada table, the guy knew his beers and was generous with his pourings.

This was awesome

The Sam Adams peeps were known to me from the Yelp event I recently attended so they were very sweet and generous as well. Again, the blackberry beer was a favorite and luckily I was able to go back for refills again and again.

I met a new love this day - UFO! In the words of the incredibly annoying Rachael Ray - YUM-O! This beer is smooth, real smooth. Reminds me a lot of Blue Moon, a favorite in our household. Due to this introduction it is now what hubby orders at Latin House Grill. I didn't get a pic of UFO. But here are some pics of other beers I enjoyed

These guys were awesome. I tried all their beers and all were yum.

One thing I didn't like, in fact I think the thought of it makes me a bit queasy, is the beers from Schnebly's. Yikes. Guava beer? No, please don't. And the other beer, coconut I think... The guy serving it said "it tastes like The Keys" and I thought no dude, it tastes like stuff I slather on my ass to make it turn brown while in the Keys. My apologies, but stick to wine, Schnebly's...

Overall the event was just OK. I did enjoy the beers, the food left much to be desired. I don't think I would go back next year unless there's more food. Beer makes my inner fatty quite hungry.

La Coriana

La Coriana is a tiny spot in a strip mall in Doral, or Doralzuela as it's referred to by Miamians who have witnessed the taking of this community by minivan driving moms who think the non-existant traffic & parking laws of Caracas reciprocate in the MIA. (Sorry chamas, pero estan bien equivocadas.)
Sadly, I don't have many fantastic things to say about this place which pains me as I want to give my support to my fellow Venezuelans. 3 stars for the food, 1 star lost due to the horrendous stench of this place. Think about mopping your floor with the same mop for 3 weeks and and leaving it in the same dirty bucket full of black water after each and every wash - multiply that x 10 and that's what this place smells like. The place looks kinda run down, which matched the smell and not in a charming, cute little hole in the wall way. The service was good - owner was manning the place on his own on a lonely Saturday afternoon. My friend and I were the only ones in there, come to think of it he could've walked the food to us vs calling me to the counter to juggle my order.

I'm Venezuelan so I feel I have a pretty good palate for my native cuisine. The tequenos were pretty good. The green sauce didn't really shine but it was OK. My Cuban companion loved it, but what does the poor girl know (I love ya, VV!)

The cachapa was good - the cheese was on point. The cachapa itself was a little flat - like a chancleta, but the flavor was acceptable. I prefer mine a little thicker.

The arepa was unlike anything I've ever had before - he makes it very different than what I'm accustomed to. He told me about his process which I appreciated. It was super crispy and I prefer mine fluffier. The filling - carne mechada - was tasty. The sauce was sloppy and didn't add much to it. Sometimes it's best to keep things simple.

Sadly this place doesn't offer empanadas which is one of my favorite things to eat when indulging.
I don't think I would go back to this place. The food wasn't stellar and the stench is unforgivable.

La Coriana
3655 NW 107th Avenue
Doral, FL
(305) 716-7678