You step into your friend’s house for a casual dinner party. Do you want to sit inside or outside? It’s a little cooler outside, surprising for Miami, I know, so you ‘post up’ at a table they have outside on their patio. Of course you want to partake in a drink, and although the beer selection isn’t tremendous, they have a beer for the American or International in you, at the very least. Wine, on the other hand, is more extensive – perhaps they have a cellar, or at the very least, a bucket of ice with several selections perfectly chilled. Riesling it is. Your host is incredibly accommodating and to the point – it’s what you’ve always enjoyed about him – making recommendations about what you should try here and there, not being pushy in the slightest, surprisingly inviting you to not overeat – they can always bring out more food later, but enjoy what strikes you first for now.
To keep you satisfied until the main plates come out, they tempt you with bread with smoked butter, and fresh, summery, lightly pickled cucumbers. Next up, baby lamb chops, perfectly seasoned, with a romesco sauce and a single, crispy, fingerling potato. There’s only three, so you share the last one (odd numbers are the worst).
Suddenly, you snap back to reality. Wait…I’m not actually in the home of a friend. I’m actually sitting outside on Washington Avenue (which is probably the furthest away you could get from being in a tranquil, intimate spot). However, The Dining Room literally makes you feel as though you’ve been transported the kitchen of a long-known companion (who of course happens to be a wiz in the kitchen), who invited you over for a Saturday dinner of long-braised pork with grainy mustard sauce, fresh radish salad, white bean puree, and medium-rare Churrasco with a lightly dressed fresh heirloom tomato and blue cheese salad.
Like in the home of a friend, here you’re never urged to speed up your meal, never pushed into ordering more so that the bill will look like the GND of a small country. At The Dining Room, our meal lasted over 2 hours (although it felt like 45 minutes). The menus have the names of not only the Chef proudly displayed, but also of the Servers (Jose was amazing- the only server there on a busy Saturday night, and he handled it incredibly, finding time to check in often and at the right times). The kitchen is open – literally – in the middle of the Dining Room – so open that you can see the entirety of it from any table in the house, inside or out. We think the Chef may have even brought our food to our table personally, not because we’re special (although my Mom says I am), but because that just seems to be what he does.
One thing that will tip you off that you are actually in a restaurant is the dessert. No friend you have could possibly make something so good. The bakedPatagonia encompassed sweet and sour, hot and cold. Like the quote from one of my favorite movies (don’t judge me) Vanilla Sky, Jason Lee sonnets: “The sweet is never as sweet without the sour.” Case in point – Tart, tart, tart passion fruit puree with dulce de leche cake and pistachio ice cream, completed with baked meringue…
To put it simply, go here. Warm, welcoming, and simply delicious (and pretty affordable for a SoBe restaurant), need I say more?