Pubbelly = Mostly Hits With A Couple Of Misses.

June 7, 2012

This passed weekend I hit up Pubbelly with a group of some of the best ladies a girl can know. I had been to Pubbelly a few months back and this was my second visit. Whenever I'm in the area I always end up at Pubbelly Sushi (their sister restaurant) and never find my way back to the original gastropub. We were five hungry gals looking to paint the town red. The dishes at this restaurant reminded me of that old CD in high school, you liked every song except for a couple that you always found your self skipping over.

Couple things to keep in mind, this place brings out dishes as they're ready and it's all tapas style. Our waitress although nice was very free flowing when it came to taking our order and didnt seem too familiar with the menu. We were throwing names of dishes at her in random order and she just nodded. I definitely give her props for not forgetting a single dish. The restaurant is small and doesn't take reservations unless it's a large party; otherwise, it's first come first serve.

We decided to get a few types of bread. We hit up their Fig Marmalade Toast, Goat Butter Toast and their Pan Con Tomate. All three were great in my opinion and depending on your personal taste I'd suggest trying them all. However keep in mind, for 2 small pieces of bread you'll end up paying about $3 a piece. My personal favorite though was the goat butter toast; I could eat that all day long and not regret a single bite.

We ordered a good chunk of the menu and got a little bit of everything. To start off we had three type of dumplings. I insisted on getting the Pumpkin and Duck dumplings because I remembered those fondly from my first visit. Tiny pieces of orange sat atop each dumpling. Soy brown butter around the dumplings, hints of cinnamon in the pumpkin and tiny pieces of almond for a bit of a crunch. They were absolutely delicious and just how I remembered them. We then had the Pork Belly and Scallion dumplings, the pork belly flavor slapped you in the face along with a hint of onion marmalade and a nice scallion zip. This was a more savory and bold flavor when compared to the slightly sweet pumpkin/duck combo, but great either way. The unanimous favorite throughout the table was the Short Rib and Corn dumplings. These dumplings had corn soy, rich black truffle, well-seasoned short rib and giant shavings of parmigiano cheese. These dumplings gave all us gals the O-face without the messy sex part.

Up next we had their Croquetas. This seemed to be a unanimous let down for everyone at the table. They're made with short rib and porcini mushrooms and are served with ramp aioli. All five of us agreed that they seemed to be missing a little something, yet none of us could really point out what they were missing. Nothing about these croquetas really called our attention and were unfortunately lack-luster.

Moving right along, we ordered their Mofongo. While ordering we were warned that this would be the best Mofongo we've ever had and they were abso-fucking-lutely right. It was so good we ordered a second plate of it. The Mofongo was full of pork belly chunks, crispy plantain pieces and it was surrounded by a wonderful moat of shoyu broth. It was a bowl of edible awesomeness. We all somehow managed to play nice, share and not stab each other while eating the Mofongo. Definitely a dish to get again and again without hesitation.

We also decided to throw in a couple of salads into the mix for good measure. One friend ordered the Fried Snapper Salad. Although it was a fried piece of fish, the salad itself seemed very light and refreshing. It was topped tomatoes, shiro soy and Japanese escabeche. The fish itself was perfectly cooked and ridiculously fresh. I'm not a big fan of fried fish (or seafood in general), but I wouldn't hesitate having this salad again. Another friend ordered their Heirloom Tomatoes salad that comes with blueberries, amazu ponzu and soft tofu. This was also another light and refreshing salad. The blueberries went surprisingly well with the tomatoes, tofu and ponzu. Definitely a great vegetarian-friendly option.

We also ordered their Burratina. This is where we all got a little concerned, typically Burratina is supposed to taste mild like a creamy mozzarella, yet this Burratina didn't taste like that at all. The minute we all bit into this salad we were hit with a sharp flavor. We deconstructed the salad eating each piece separately to identify the sharp flavor. It wasn't the brussel sprouts, sliced green apples, soy or Jerez vin. It was the cheese. My cheese monger/Cheese Course employee friend was the first to point it out, it tasted like blue cheese. The concern was then, Burratina is NOT supposed to taste like blue cheese. While my friend asked our waitress about the cheese, I was already looking through my purse for a secret Imodium stash. The waitress seemed confused and somewhat dumbfounded, her response was "I don't know what it's supposed to taste like, but when I had it I know I liked it. Then again I love blue cheese." Not sure what to make of that, I'm not in anyway an expert and don't presume to be, but this dish just seemed a bit aloof and left us all scratching our heads.

We ended the savory portion of our meal with their Kimchee Fried Rice with pork belly and pineapple. This is one giant bowl of rice that is meant to be shared, unless you're a monstrous fat ass. In that case, have at it. The rice is served with a poached egg and green peas. Once you pop the yolk on the egg and mix around all that goodness, it's time to eat. It's got a great spicy kick, but nothing unbearable. It definitely won't have you running around with smoke coming out your ears. The pork belly and pineapple gives it a sweet and salty kick that compliments the kimchi well. Definitely a great dish that I would easily have again.

We then eagerly moved onto dessert. One dessert wouldn't be enough to satisfy five hungry gals so we decided to have three. I jumped with excitement at their Brownies & Bacon dessert. It came with their homemade soft serve ice cream, chocolate brownies, caramelized bacon and ganache. I'm sad to say I was a bit disappointed, the brownies were great, but I was completely missing that smokey/salty bacon flavor. It was as if there was no bacon in the dessert at all and this made me sad. In addition, I didn't like their soft serve ice cream which is apparently served on every single damn dessert they offer. Up next, we went with their Caramel Custard served with warm caramel, roasted apples, short bread cookies and soft serve ice cream. The caramel custard (think flan) tasted very "eggy," which I didn't really appreciate. The apples, caramel and cookies were a great combination on their own. Lastly, we had the Warm Chocolate Tart. This was my favorite dessert; the chocolate tart (think chocolate flan) came topped with bananas, caramel, nut powder, waffle crisps, ganache and that damn soft serve ice cream. The ice cream really took away from this dessert primarily because it didn't have any stand-out flavor or richness. In order to enjoy this dessert you had to move the ice cream to the side and get a little bit of everything else in one bite. All in all, I'll probably skip dessert altogether next time I visit.

This is a great restaurant, do not get me wrong and I wouldn't hesitate going back. Definitely a place to check out if you're looking for a fun tapas style place for a date or girls night. There's a couple dishes I probably won't get again and I'll skip dessert as long as they have that flavorless soft serve ice cream on every single dessert. Like any restaurant, we came across a couple of misses, but mostly had hits. Their dumplings, breads, salads, Mofongo and fried rice were all delicious and fresh. I applaud their inventiveness and always trying to do things differently.

Restaurant Details:
(305) 532-7555
1418 20th St
Miami Beach, FL 33139

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