[Once again, we're far from home on a mini culinary adventure. To read about why, look at the intro to part one of this mission. This is the review of our second Miami meal, plus a few pictures and thoughts about the neighborhood at the bottom.]
From the Green Book:
The dining room is well laid-out and full of cool modern art (The chef battling a wolf, owl, and tiger on the outside of the building is pretty vivid too). It's very nice, but casual.
First Course: Lobster soup and heirloom tomato salad. I wasn't super thrilled by either. The soup was not bad, but it was not buttery enough to really show off the lobster, and not bright enough to highlight the fresh avocado and corn mounded in the centre. The salad was better but still didn't wow me (although Mel liked it a lot). The combo of dense heirloom tomatoes, basil, and manchego was nice with the balsamic vinaigrette. The basil was especially fragrant compared to what we grow at home. It was a simple, rustic dish that was pleasing, but not dazzling.
Meanwhile: I had a Russel's Reserve Rye Old Fashioned that was just like I'd make at home (a good thing), and a berry-infused bourbon cocktail which was delightfully refreshing-- strong, but balanced; a really nice drink.
Course II: Local Yellow-Tail ceviche. The fish itself was really nice-- great flavor and texture; very fresh. The best bites included the shaved chili peppers for spice, some cilantro for, well, cilantro, and not too much corn. Unfortunately the fish was swimming in a dense sea of unnecessary corn (which was sweet and fresh, but overwhelmed the fish if you let more than a couple kernels infiltrate your fork).
I was pretty worried at this point that we'd leave disappointed, but here comes Course III to save the meal! We got a half order of the skirt steak with wasabi mash potatoes, friel leek, broccolini, & sweet chili sauce. This one really wowed us. The steak was tender and super flavorful. The wasabi potatoes were perfect-- just enough wasabi to tickle all the right tastebuds without distracting with heat. All of the dish's components tasted great together and equally great on their own-- except maybe the leek. I've never seen fried leek straws anywhere before (that I recall), and I kept tasting them on their own but I couldn't really detect their flavor. They still provided a little textural contrast, if nothing else, and they looked great atop the dish.
Both the kitchen and bar were super-fast. Our waiter always said "right away" when we asked for things, and that's how they appeared. Granted, it wasn't very busy. (Our reservation was for 6pm- good tip if you want a quick in/out.)
Our Last Course was a cappuccino for Mel, an "R-House Mule" for me, and a tres-leches cake, which both of us were too full to eat. I thought the cake was really good. Normally tres leches eats too sweet for me, but this one was a refreshingly sophisticated take with great texture, and without the insipid sweetness. My drink was pretty damn good (strong, for sure; at this point they had decided that we were critics, and were trying to get me drunk, I think). Their house-made ginger beer (!) was a little under-powered actually, but it was garnished with a deliciously spicy piece of candied ginger, so I took a tiny bite of that with each sip and it was magic.
The Bill was $119 w/o tip, which isn't cheap, but then I did have three cocktails at $13 each (which seems to be pretty standard for this area). I would say the service was exceptional, and the owner, Roco, stopped by to see that we were enjoying ourselves (but, then...[he thought we were food critics... which I guess we are-M]).
In the end, because of the service, and the strength of the last two courses (and the cocktails), I walked away liking R House (and this cool-ass neighborhood [see below for more on that-M]) a lot. It's not a five, but it's a nice place to check out it you're around this way.
4.0 out of 5 from Matt
From the Red Book:
Lobster soup-- unlike many lobster soups I've tried, this one did not have too much cream. It seemed to be an avocado base with fresh corn, jalapeno, and cilantro. The soup was good, but did not wow me.
Heirloom Tomato Salad-- Manchego cheese, tomatoes, cucumbers, garlic croutons and balsamic vinaigrette. This salad was fresh, and hit on sweet, sour, tangy, and spicey. The fresh basil added spice and fragrance, the tomatoes were firm and crunchy as were the cucumbers, the manchego added creamy tartness while the croutons added mild crunch and garlic/salt.
Yellowtail Snapper Ceviche-- Fish was tangy but the presentation had too much corn. The sweetness overpowers the tangy creaminess of the fish. The wonton chips tasted more like a garnish than an actual apparatus for the yellowtail.
Grilled Sweet Chili Skirt Steak-- the sauce had a medium thickness and flavor reminiscent of teriyaki but better. The [piece of] steak was buttery to cut and extremely flavorful to taste. The wasabi mashed potatoes, for me, were surprisingly delicious. Minimal heat but packed full of wasabi flavor with a smooth finish. The broccolini was bitter and mediocre, and not representative of the dish at all. Some discussion was had over whether or not the steak was grass fed. If it was, then that was the best grass fed steak I have ever had-- no credit to the cow; all to the chef.
As a special touch... Service was wonderful and quick. Food came out extremely quickly-- could have gone a tad slower, but it wasn't a huge deal.
Dessert: Tres Leche Cake (recommended by server)-- The cream soaked cake was smooth, spongy, and delicious; not as sweet as traditional tres leche but still sweet. Nuts and caramel on top-- I felt that the nuts were an abrupt interruption to the cake's flavor, and would have prefered it without them.
4.0 out of 5 from Mel
You'll find R House at:
2727 NW 2nd Ave. Miami
And they're on Opentable for reservations here.
The Wynwood Neighborhood is amazing. The murals are what get you first (& they're amazing), but the places we walked by... art galleries, shops, coffee joints, and brew pubs. Then we landed at J Wakefield Brewing, which had a super-hip tap toom (all Star Wars cantinia themed). I had a flight of four: "Hop for Teacher," a 2x IPA, a 3x Belgian, and a Doppelbock. The 2x IPA was my favorite. Cool ass joint with barrel furniture. See pictures [I may have been pretty drunk at this point. Browse more of our Wynwood pictures below-M]