Norman’s 180

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Norman’s 180 is in Coral Gables, right next to Mortons. If you’re not set on a steak, skip Mortons, which you’re probably tired of by now anyways, and go to Norman’s 180. My friend Emily and I had one of the best meals of the semester here. The ambience was amazing as well, with a trendy looking bar and dark wood, huge booths (with the option of outside seating as well). In addition, it is the newest restaurant from acclaimed chef Norman Van Aken, a James Beard Award winner, and sits on the James Beard Advisory Board. The Executive Chef, Brandon Benack, has worked for Emeril Lagasse.  What we ordered:

First, the cocktails. I always ask if a restaurant has a cocktail menu. I like trying new drinks, not just the same old. They brought us over a menu, and immediately I was intrigued, because almost all of the liquors were made in-house. You could tell they put just as much time into crafting their drinks as they did their food. This was also evident in the amount of time it took to actually get our drinks (around 15 minutes in a pretty empty restaurant, as it was a weeknight. However, it was explained that it took a while because they were “handcrafted”). Emily ordered two of the Devil’s Watermelon: cayenne sugar rim, fresh watermelon ice cube, house-made watermelon vanilla vodka, mint, lime, and fresh watermelon juice. I ordered 1 Kentucky Derby: house-made fuji apple bourbon, maple syrup, cinnamon and lemon. The ONE mistake of the night was trying the Hot Mamacita: orange juice, dill, jalepeno, fresh lemon and lime juice, and gin. I literally had to hold my nose while drinking it. Emily forced me to drink it in the name of finishing finals and the fact that I’m a fool enough to order anything that has dill and orange juice together. The other highlight of the drinks was the toast that Emily made. I’m normally accustomed to a “cheers” and clink, but this is definitely her forte. If anyone is a best man or maid of honor at a wedding and needs help, she’s your girl.

We split the shrimp ceviche appetizer. It came with house-pickled cucumbers and fresh plantain chips. It was a perfect size to share and we both loved it.

For our entrees, Emily got the Key West Yellowtail. We saw them bring it out to another patron, and it looked beautiful. It was grilled on top of asparagus, “belly” of mashed potatoes, and a butter citrus sauce. They were happy to bring extra sauce when Emily asked. I tried a piece just because it looked so amazing (I don’t eat any fish aside from shrimp and lobster) and I loved it. I’m converted now.

I ordered the house smoked baby back ribs, which came with an entree sized portion of some of the most delicious mac n cheese I have ever had. The sauce on the ribs was delicious as well, and I liked how they brought extra sauce with your entree without you even having to ask (because I ALWAYS do).

Because we were both celebrating the end of the school year, we also each got a dessert. I ordered the Key Lime Pie, which came with white-chocolate covered marcona almonds, which were almost better than the pie itself. Emily ordered the “Cubano,” a cuban bread pudding made with guava, cream cheese, and a white chocolate godiva sauce.

On the walk back to my apartment, not only were we extremely full, but happy as well. I would recommend this restaurant to anyone. They also looked like they had good happy hour specials, and had a (small) bar foods menu.

-Stefanie

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