I came back from New York on a Saturday, and that Sunday, my Dad came into Miami for the night. “Pick any restuarant you want, and we’ll go,” he told me. These are dangerous words. Luckily, I knew the exact place I wanted to go, and it really wouldn’t break the bank–Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink. I had been hearing about it for months now. I knew it was time to go when on my flight back to Miami, the Delta Magazine onboard featured it as the best place for “casual” food in MIA (they picked Azul for best fine dining). Nestled in the Art District and down the street from Michelle Bernstein’s Sra Martinez, MGFD is an unassuming looking restaurant from the outside, sharing its patio seating with a trendy-looking hair salon, and maybe a couple other stores. Because it is semi-close in proximity to AAA, and there was a Heat game that night, we opted for an earlier dinner, without making a reservation. This was a smart move. About 30 minutes after we arrived, the place was packed with people (most wearing their #6 jerseys). And rightfully so.
Our table was adjacent to the open kitchen, which possessed a wood-buring oven. Immeadietly, I could see the pounds of fresh heirloom tomatoes. I was transfixed almost the entire meal watching one of the cooks slice these tomatoes for their burratta dish, or perhaps for the BLT salad. They were honestly beautiful. The colors on these tomatoes were rich and anything but simple red. I later found out they are from Teena’s Pride, and I cannot wait to get my hands on some for consumption at home. However, the poor man slicing the tomatoes probably thought I was an ultimate weirdo.
The waiter was extremely personable, and was accomodating to all (and I mean all of our questions). My Dad is a ‘foodie’ as well, so we had a lot. To begin, I ordered the house-made lychee soda, and my Dad ordered a PBR, ha. Lychees are in season, and the soda was very sweet, with a tinge of tartness. It came garnished with a fresh lychee. It was a refreshing drink that lasted me throughout the entire meal. In addition, there is complimentary bread that comes with delicious, rich butter. The best part of the bread/butter is the flaky salt available on the table, which we liberally sprinkled.
We wanted to try so many things off of the menu. Instead we chose just four (and dessert): shortribs, pork pelly, house-smoked pastrami, and chicken liver pate (my dad likes this – meh). The thing with chicken liver pate is that, if I didn’t know what it actually is, I would like it. But the knowledge that I’m eating liver turns my stomach, so I only tried a little, and it was delicious, although I think I ate more of the caramelized onion. The pork belly was something we both, as avid Top Chef fans *someone is always making pork belly* wanted to try. It did not disappoint. The outside was crispy, spicy, and sweet at the same time. Chinese vegetables underneath were the same, retaining their crunch, and were a good contrast. The short ribs were crazy-good. There was no knife needed. Any time I have had shortribs, they have always been braised. However, these were made in more of a rustic fashion, and were grilled, with a very chunky romesco sauce on top, and a light, fresh salad on the side. The hazelnuts within the romesco provided a lovely consistency to the shortribs – melt in your mouth meat with a bit of bite from the crunchy nuts, wrapped up with the creaminess from the sauce. I am glad that the waiter told me beforehand that they were not made in the traditional way – if he hadn’t I would have been anticipating something completely different, and may have been dissapointed. His forewarning made all the difference in my perception of the food. It’s hard to come from NY and even compare pastrami to places such as Katz’s, or even Mt. Kisco Kosher, but again, you didn’t need a knife for this, and it was delicious. Probably the biggest thing I’ll take away from MGFD, though, is the cheese grits. I’ve always been too “scared” to try grits, but these converted me and I will probably covet them for the rest of my life. They were delicious beyond imagination. MGFD has opened my eyes to the world of grits, and I now order them whenever I see them on a menu. However, no grits have yet compared.
We decided to end out meal with the pot de creme, which came with two freshly baked, incredibly non-greasy donuts. These donuts reminded me of going to the cider mill in the fall – this is probably the highest compliment I could ever pay a donut. The pot de creme was sweet, a tinge sour, and the candied peel on top was delicious. Kudos to a restaurant that TRULY prides itself on its desserts just as much as its main fare. This was such an excellent meal, and I will 100% be returning. My Dad was beaming from ear to ear after this meal – and it’s pretty hard to please a man who makes his own bone marrow on a Tuesday night. The waiter told us that the menu changes daily, FYI. All together, the meal came to 92 dollars and change (without tip). This is pretty cheap for 4 dishes, 2 drinks, a dessert, and a great ambiance, especially in Miami, where sometimes, it seems that restaurants just charge whatever they want.
P.S. MGFD changes their menu often, sometimes daily. Follow them on twitter for their daily menu additions!