Before getting into the specifics about the phenomenal food that the Eating House team is sending out of the kitchen, I’d just like to say thank you. Coral Gables is an unlikely destination for such a funky & delicious concept, but a convenient one for many of us SoFla food hounds. I’m sure I’m not the only one who jumped up and down out of joy, knowing I wouldn’t have to schlep downtown or to Midtown to indulge. Shari & I walked out the door of my apartment, and arrived at the restaurant a mere three minutes later. Perfection.
The restaurant itself is unassuming and doesn’t look much different then Cafe Ponce during the day (I checked it out a few house earlier before it “transformed” into the pop-up). Graffiti art lining the walls added a pop of color and edge to let the patron know, that yes, Eating House is here. But, what Eating House lacks in decor, it makes up with a great energy. To us, more important than ambiance, the quality of the food should be top-notch – meaning, we would rather a restaurant put more money into what’s on my plate than the plate, itself. On this, Eating House most definitely delivers.
The staff was, in a word, ‘chill,’ and Alex, the GM, checked in at the right times, with Giorgio personally bussing out the food to each table. We loved their “uniforms” of plaid shirts. Trendy cohesiveness. We were also impressed by how efficiently they were running the establishment after just a few weeks of being open.
Now, onto the good stuff – the food. The menu is very small, but has so many delicious sounding dishes that it might as well be the size of The Big Pink’s menu. You’ll no doubt have trouble deciding on which dishes to order. Because the plates are small, you won’t need to stress over it too much, as you’ll need about 4-5 dishes to fill up a party of two.
The menu is ever-changing. Alex told us that Giorgio wakes up in the morning, checks out what the market has fresh, and then comes up with most of his concepts that day. On the night that we went, there were dishes for the “adventurous” (escargot; sweetbreads;bone marrow with veal cheek ropa vieja) mixed in with homestyle dishes (glazed carrots with ‘french toast crumbs'; chicken and waffles) and other, seemingly more refined dishes (duck). So, something for everyone. Before you venture there, you can view their updated menu on their website, like we did, but I think it would be more fun to not look at it beforehand and take a gamble on what will be coming out of the kitchen that night.
Carrots. These were once my nemesis, now my best friend. I distinctly remember sitting in Disney World when I was 10 years old. We were eating chicken noodle soup, the homestyle kind that had chunks of vegetables in it. My worst nightmare. My mom would pick a carrot out of the soup, and offer me a dollar if I ate it. My, how times have changed. I didn’t even want to share these with Shari. The sweet, soft, lightly glazed carrots contrasted beautifully with the uber-crunchy, salty, sweet, french toast crumbs. Expect to see variations of this dish on their menu in the near future. No matter the produce they decide to use, order it just for the crumbs alone. Trust me.
Eggplant with Banana Miso, Vanilla Salt. Cilantro on the side, please! The banana flavor wasn’t overpowering, and the addition of the vanilla salt was lovely. It was a little mushy for our liking – not the winning dish of the night, but in any event, we cleared out plate. The plate, like all others, was aesthetically beautiful. The black slate dishes are a perfect blank canvas for the food, as all the dishes were vibrant.
Fried Chicken, Waffles, Bacon, Siracha Ranch Dipping Sauce. SO GOOD. No need for the ranch, in a personal opinion, because the meat/bacon/waffle combo had more then enough flavor on its own. But some people really like ranch, so do your thing if that’s you. My Grandma, who puts ketchup on EVERYTHING, wouldn’t even dare touch this dish with an ounce of condiment. Our only qualm? INCREASE THE PORTION SIZE, FOR THE LOVE OF G-D. We could not get enough of this. The bacon was thick, sweet and salty. The waffle was the perfect density. The chicken was beautifully golden, with deliciously juicy white meat chicken. This, we were told, will be a staple on their menu, and rightfully so. If you take this off the menu, we will ‘Occupy Eating House’ until the chicken is given the opportunity to be put back on the menu.
Spare Ribs with Siracha Pickles. The portion size on the dish was quite large in contrast to the chicken and waffles. We each were able to enjoy 3-4 ribs. They were yummy, the marinade was satisfying, but the ribs were almost like Madonna performing after Lady Gaga. The ribs were totally upstaged by the chicken dish, which we had finished just moments before. At some points, too many pieces of cartilage interfered with really enjoying the meat.
Birthday Cake. What happens when you run birthday cake batter through a whipped cream canister? This. Light-as-air ‘cake’. This shit is dangerous, as we’re sure the calories aren’t cut down just because it’s 1/3 as heavy as the real thing. The sprinkles added a bit of a textural contrast between the two mouses, but we both agreed that we would have liked a thin layer of actual cake on the bottom, or even a crunchy cookie to provide a bit more excitement. The addition of a lit birthday candle is whimsical and nostalgic and no doubt would make anyone smile once it arrives at their table.
Eating House will be a staple in the Gables until August at least. This truly is a gem of a place for the area (or anywhere, for that matter), and is inexpensive enough that you can visit it weekly. Their hours are from 6-1 am currently, but they may be reassessing the late hour at some point. We welcome additions to their wine/beer list (I had a Breckenridge Vanilla Porter with my meal), and are hoping they will experiment with wine and beer cocktails.