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Pubbelly, Pubbelly, Pubbelly.

January 7, 2011

There was Michael’s there was Sra. Martinez and then there was Pubbelly.

Had we not have eaten at Michael’s Genuine Food and Wine (on a packed Tuesday), we would not have eaten at Sra.Martinez the following night. O.k. maybe we would have. The following night was not packed  for a Wednesday (no scene).  Far more importantly, the food at Sra. Martinez was phenomenal. We did have one of the most amazing meals there (twice) while in Miami. But more on that later.

To make a long story shorter, Chef Berenice de Araujo, the mastermind brilliance of Sra. Martinez, tipped us off to Pubbelly. So we thought o.k. We loved her food, she loves their food, hopefully we will love Pubbelly. I love pork belly and, as it turns out, at Pubbelly that’s what they are peddling.

Pubbelly is at the end of Purdy avenue past Sardinia (where we also had several exceptional meals). We walked past it the first time, outside flickering candle et al. That’s how much this place blends. It is exactly that neighborhood spot you wish was in your neighborhood. They never are.

Exposed brick walls, low lighting, communal tables and a great playlist (Nas’ “The World is Yours” was on when we walked in) is what you first see (and hear) at Pubbelly. This could be anywhere. Especially Kansas City or North Carolina. But they don’t deserve it. Miami does.

Cheerfully attractive servers greet you. They wear fitted Pubbelly shirts emblazoned with, what else, a pig’s face. On exposed skin, some servers sport faux tattoos of the Pubbelly logo. The three owners have the real ink. Think, the trio of owners of Feast (Houston and NOLA).

Initially, we found our server selling us on the food. Though I did appreciate his extreme enthusiasm for the food and restaurant, we weren’t wearing Hollister hoodies and this wasn’t our first rodeo. He eased back after we began placing order after order. And then, for some reason, he implied that we were ordering too much food (what is this, the News Cafe?). We assured him we were pros (at eating) and drinking.

The plates are small and meant to be shared. Though I can’t remember what wine I had (yes, it was like that), I recall liking it. Possibly a Grenache. I usually like Grenache. I do recall my dining partner not loving the wine he ordered.

To note: Pubbelly serves beer and sake as well. They are also open until 2 a.m and the word “Pub” is a part of the restaurant’s name. With that being said, I’m not entirely surprised at the wine list in its variance. I wasn’t bothered. The style of food also lends itself to being paired with Champagne or Prosecco, and Beer and Sake. But of course I am going to promote Champagne. Champagne would have been great with the food here.

Now on to the food.

Duck & Pumpkin dumplings with orange, almonds, soy brown butter

One of our favorite dishes, just exceptional. Beautiful broth. Lovely dumplings. I could have had a nice bowl of these again.

 

Dates with Chorizo , Shishito Peppers miso , scallions, pistachio.

I could eat these all day along with chicharrones from 4505 Meats.

The sauce at the bottom was incredible. Slightly charred, sweet and spicy from the Shishito. After the dates were devoured I promptly placed the bowl with remaining sauce to the right of me.  Several servers tried to clear the dish. Even one of the owners wanted to remove the seemingly empty bowl. I explained that I liked the sauce so much I wanted to keep it. I later added some of it to the kimchee rice.

 

Spaghetti & Meatballs: sommen noodles, red pepper, lemongrass, mint, peanuts

The meatballs were great and the noodles were surprisingly cold (though we were warned). I’d think this would be a strange pairing. Interesting presentation as well. The taste was all there. Really good.

Pork Belly ,Bok choy, butterscotch, corn powder

Seems to be one of their signature dishes. The server even recommended that we order it. It was absolutely incredible. The pork belly was outstanding.The exterior was slightly crackled and the interior was pure pillowy softness. In the Dictionary, this is next to the word Luscious. It. is. all. that.

 

Kimchee & Pinneaple Rice with pork belly, assorted peas, egg

My dining partner loved this and said it reminded him of his paella. Well, o.k. then. I liked it as well. For some strange reason it reminded me of El Paso. As in Juarez.

True story:  Years and years and years ago I was studying Art at UTEP (in search of my culture) and worked part-time at a Chinese restaurant (to learn Spanish). While I worked there, I witnessed a knife fight in the kitchen between Lee (Chinese) and Fabian (a Mexican with the bluest of blue eyes) over a Kung Pao chicken. This was a common occurrence but I had only the pleasure of seeing it once. After my hostess shift, I’d order food to go (from one of the swordsmen) and get the Combination Fried rice, extra spicy, with peanuts and pineapple. It was and is, the best fried rice I’ve ever had. I’ve really never found a suitable replacement. The kimchee (spelling as listed on the menu) rice at Pubbelly is almost the closest thing to it. Just almost.

To end.

Soft serve with dulce de leche, cookies

The desserts at Pubbelly (written on chalk board) consisted  of soft serve ice cream with various syrups and toppings to accompany. After an incredibly decadent meal, I really wanted something slightly sweet, slightly tart, and small portioned. Come to think, during the entire trip, after most dinners I really craved something small and sweet. Something like a tiny lemon bar or lemon tart. Or even a scoop of sorbet or granite. Sake granita perhaps? (Pubbelly are you reading this?).

And as much as I love a good portion of something entirely naughty (maple bacon bread pudding at Michael’s Genuine), I really appreciate when restaurants offer small bites for dessert. And now that I think, Pubbelly actually does offer small bites for dessert… in their bathroom. Incidentally, Pubbelly has one of the neatest bathrooms around. Very cool, very kitschy and stocked with everything from hand lotion, to tampons and bowls of candy by the sink. I took a few tootsie rolls for the road. Small bites after all.

But we went ahead and ordered dessert. Because, well, why not. We went with the soft serve (what a surprise) which happened to be one of the ugliest looking desserts, but tasted pretty good. Look, I understand. Soft serve is soft serve and it takes some effort to gussy it up. On a cone it has purpose, in a bowl I feel like I’m at Fruitopia (attempting to be healthy). Shockingly, it didn’t come with a mint sprig either.

My suggestion is that maybe they serve the toppings on the side and guests can be pro-active with the drizzling. Or even use Magic Shell, so the soft serve curves might take some shape.

And after this meal and many others you can imagine my shape. Magic Shell covered Spanx. Yummy..

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