Run, do not walk, to the Blue Piano. When Shari & I left Blue Piano Miami, we were anything but blue. We were extremely happy, and also, extremely, gluttonously full. Food comas — multiple — occurred, and my hair smelled like pork for 3 days after (in a good way). I guess that’s what happens when you order one of (almost) EVERYTHING on the menu. And although the quality and presentation of food at TBP would lead you to believe that the bill would be hefty, nothing we ordered off of the food menu was over $9.25. Shari had read that TBP was voted the Best Wine Bar in Miami. A great tweeter, she started talking to the restaurant via Twitter, and next thing ya know, we had a table reserved for our table of 6. Our waitress explained every component of every dish – she recommended what we should try – she brought things we didn’t order (thank G-D, or else we may have missed out on the best dish of the night, but we’ll get there) – she found it perfectly normal that we took 5 pictures of each dish she brought out – she actually cared about your taste in beer and wine, and recommended alcohol for each of us individually. THAT IS SERVICE. Rare, rare, service.
Anyone who doesn’t know us would probably have thought we drank 50 red bulls before we came to TBP. We were so amped up about how great the food sounded, that we didn’t know where to start. So naturally, we started with some drinks. For the boys, the waitress suggested a beer “so good, you won’t be able to stop drinking it.” It was sweet, almost with a malty taste, and a reddish color, called Panic Attack from Holy Makeral, and originally, locally brewed in Ft. Lauderdale. The beer goes down smooth (that’s what she said) but it’s a deceiving little beer – with 10% alcohol.
Shari, Aly and I all ordered white wines. Aly ordered a dry riesling, I ordered a Roter Veltliner from the Wimmer-Czerny winery in Austria, and Shari ordered a Masar Jeune Blanc. Shari and I both opted for a sweeter wine.
The first thing we were urged to order was the Buffalo Chicarones with house-made blue cheese dressing, and pickled celery and carrot slaw- a great twist on the classic, typically boring crudites. These were not typical chicharones. Although I love Buffalo wings probably more than the average person, I’d have to say that these little gems of pork-buffalo-fatty-crispy-goodness are better than any wing I have ever tried, ever. They were like tiny meat napoleons: super crispy on top, fatty in the middle that dissolved instantly on your tongue, and meaty bottoms. Thank you, Blue Piano, for ruining other buffalo wings for the rest of our lives. I now will need 100 of these, daily, to survive.
All of the dishes were “family style.” Our waitress put a pile of plates and silverware in the middle of the table, and brought the different plates out as they were ready. This is a place to linger – if you’re not sharing your food like we all did, don’t expect your food to come out at the same time as those accompanying you. It’s a great, relaxed change from so many restaurants that seem to try and rush you out the door.
PB&J: peanut butter, strawberry jalapeno jelly, and thick-cut BACON. I wanted to stigmatize the pb&j as ‘gimmicky’, but I couldn’t. It was crunchy, salty, sweet, rich, sticky, and creamy. This was the group’s favorite dish and we fought over the pieces (4 sandwiches, 6 people — you do the math). The bacon lent a chewy and meaty richness, immediately countered by the spicy and tangy jelly. The crusty, toasted buttered bread served as the perfect vehicle to hold all of the delicious ingredients together. Until, of course, they melted in my mouth.
Mac & Cheese: 4 cheeses + crispy topping + 6 forks = every man for himself. Every time someone scooped the cheesy, salty goodness out of the ramekin, I died a little inside because that was less cheesy, salty goodness for me to devour. Steamy and creamy center, crisp outside, and topped with fresh, grassy micro greens always makes for a killer interpretation of a classic comfort food dish.
These little bundles of joy are asparagus wrapped in bacon (obviously), fried peaches, drizzled with vin coto, sprinkled with dried olive oil. Ohhh, no big deal. Just everything I live for on one plate, perfectly wrapped into a little amuse bouche just big enough to, as I smile, show my dinner guests my mouth full of food. These were insane. The epitome of a great bite: different flavors, textures, and temperatures all orchestrated together towards the same, harmonious goal: deliciousness. I would eat these like popcorn. Brie with cracker jack popcorn, pecans, strawberries, and brown sugar. Yes please. The brie was so melted, it amalgamated with the brown sugar to a honey-esque liquid that coated the other ingredients. I’m pretty sure I had my first food-gasm from the dish. I stopped talking, stopped breathing, but never stopped eating. It was divine. The strawberries and pecans caramelized, and the popcorn provided a salty crunch to balance the liquid magma sugar. The micro greens, of course, added a pop of color and their presence permitted us to classify this as a ‘salad’, and therefore, fat free. Excellent.
World’s best herbalicious grilled cheese. Perfect buttered toast attempting to encompass the cheesy blob trying to escape its kung-fu grip. Thinly sliced homemade pickles scattered in between the fresh herbs and cheese added a great briny kick to the seriously rich sammie. At first I thought it was too cheesy, but then I smacked myself, promised never to put “too” and “cheesy” in the same sentence again, and happily munched away. These came out later on in the meal, and I was bordering the “I wish I was wearing stretchy pants” fullness level, so I didn’t eat as much of this as I wish I had in retrospect. But I will be back for you, cheesy sandwich, I will be back.
BLT flatbread: Apparently, this was the general consensus’ favorite dish, but I was too full to try it. Shame on me. From what I gathered from the happy faces of my friends chomping away, the crust was thin and crispy, tomatoes were ripe and added a little acidity, and the bacon was, well, bacony and perfect. The greens on the top cut the richness, while also repping their namesake “L” in the B-L-T.
Chef’s Special: Crispy pig ears & watermelon salad with jalepeno, lime, and micro greens. The watermelon was killer. We all agreed that the watermelon salad should be a staple on TBP’s menu. The pig ears were slightly adventurous for us, but those who braved the fried, curly tendrils were pleasantly surprised.
Espresso brownie with bacon cream & vanilla bean ice cream. The brownie was steaming hot, crispy on the outside, yet fudgy inside. Upon witnessing us delicately dipping the brownie in the cream, the waitress grabbed the little cup and dumped it right on top of the brownie. Get it girl. We were taken aback by her chutzpah, but once we tasted it, there was no going back. Milky, salty and warm cream pooled into the cracks of the hot brownie. The vanilla bean ice cream, laced with tiny black specks from the fresh beans, was the perfect accoutrement. Although I love brownies, I would never typically order it for dessert, but I’m so glad we did. This was awesome. Delicate, chocolatey, super rich: everything a fantastic dessert should be.
After dinner, the waitress brought the chef out to speak to us, along with complimentary apertifs. They were so passionate, talented, and genuinely interested in our favorite and least favorite dishes. This was honestly one of the best meals we’ve ever had. From the knowledgeable staff to the insanely delicious food, Blue Piano has one message to all other restaurants in Miami (and Ft. Lauderdale for that matter): Step. It. Up.