When I found out that ZCDIV had to be in Miami for work the same weekend as Miami's COCHON 555, the only thing I asked him before booking my flight was what time his golf outing would be over on Saturday. That allowed me to do the Saturday morning "KKdouble" (for those of you who aren't obsessed like me, that's a Flybarre with Kara Liotta followed by a Flywheel with Kate Hickl) and even get half of a 2nd ride in with Leah Clark. Even with all that, I arrived in Miami with enough time to have an awesome dinner Saturday night. Yes, my trip would be less than 36 hours, but that easily accommodated Saturday dinner, Sunday in the sun (weather-permitting, in an effort to continue my 2013 resolution to be tan the entire year), and the main attraction... Sunday evening's pig party, COCHON 555!
With only one evening to eat, I wanted to find a goodie, and since we were staying at The Biltmore in Coral Gables, I excluded South Beach restaurants in my search, for convenience-sake... plus, the only SoBe spot on my list is The Bazaar by Jose Andres. After a little digging, I came across Eating House, which, from my research, sounded like a similarly creative yet less extensive version of State Bird Provisions in San Francisco, a dreamy meal.
I emailed to see if there were reservations available, and within 24 hours, I received a response with available times. Hooray, we were IN!
We arrived at the restaurant, on the corner of a somewhat busy intersection. The restaurant was formerly a bakery space that Eating House "borrowed" in the evenings as a dinner pop-up, and with its popularity, they ended up purchasing the bakery and its 1800 sq ft for their permanent space. The exterior is a bit reminiscent of the bakery, but with the outdoor tables, some patrons waiting for tables outside while drinking bottled beers, and a bustling bar as you enter the restaurant, it certainly is a bakery no more.
We were seated immediately, and our server, Joseph, was friendly and helpful without ever being annoying. You can tell Eating House is a laidback, hipstery kinda place, with servers wearing t-shirts/jeans and, that evening, hosting a "420" party with a special family-style menu, drink specials and even live music!
While we perused the menus, we received a bowl of spiced popcorn to munch on. Tasty! We opted for the special menu as well as a couple add-ons from the a la carte menu; I wanted to try as much as I could!
The 7-layer dip was a surprisingly refreshing take on this usually heavy starter which included super fresh tomatoes, avocado crema, salsa verde, red onion and cotija cheese with super crunchy chips spiced chips served on the side. The cold lo mein also tasted rather light, despite being a noodle dish, with fresh carrots and a soy/sesame/vinegary sauce. Unfortunately, I didn't notice the black garlic, but I loved the egg noodles.
Next up were the "bagel bites", a riff on a classic from-the-freezer snack, but Eating House's version was AWESOME. Tender meaty short rib, enhanced with black truffle and topped with fontina cheese on a chewy, toasty bagel made for the best adult bagel bite you will ever try. It was love at first bite!
The "chorriperros" - the name is derived from a combination of chorizo and perro, a Colombian-style hot dog - were fantastic. Chorizo-style kielbasa from Proper Sausages in a toasted hot dog bun with a ketchup, pineapple relish and topped with potato straws was another giant success. Huge props to Proper Sausages for making an awesome sausage for Eating House! (I may have to order sausages from Proper Sausages soon... or at least make a pit stop the next time I'm in Miami.)
We received a break from the 420 special menu when we received one of our a la carte menu items: pasta carbonara. This is my absolute favorite pasta dish: fresh pasta adorned with classically, guanciale, in a creamy, unctuous egg-yolky sauce; when it's done right, it is MAGICAL. And Eating House might have the best carbonara I've EVER tried. Theirs arrives as a bowl of fresh tagliatelle pasta blanketed with fluffy Parmagiano Reggiano, and when uncovered and tossed, a smooth, rich, creamy, truffle-inflected eggy sauce coats these perfectly-cooked ribbons of pasta intertwined with meaty chunks of crispy bacon... O. M. G.
Back to the evening's special menu, we received a vaca frita (crispy beef) bun, which is more than vaguely reminiscent of Momofuku's pork buns (that I had just eaten the evening before at Ma Peche) with its cucumber & scallion topping and hoisin sauce (Eating House's is sweetened with guava), except this was served on a dinner roll (looked like a potato roll). Unfortunately, the crispy beef bun was a bit too sweet for my taste; I should have asked for Sriracha as we did at Ma Peche the evening before!
Our final savory dish from the 420 menu was the candied pork belly on bacon pancakes with maple syrup. Despite the pork belly, I actually thought I would be turned off by this because it sounded so sweet, but Eating House got me again. The salty, fatty, rich pork belly was perfectly balanced by the sweetness and crunchiness as well as with the wonderful bacon pancake it was served upon. This is why I try everything; another winner.
Our other a la carte menu add-on was the raw cabbages salad (I thought I would need some vegetal considering what we were eating), and it arrived at the end of the savory portion of our meal; not sure if this was in error or European-style. This "salad" was a spin on a Caesar salad, but the dressing didn't include egg or anchovies. I enjoyed the presentation and delivery - shredded cabbages, dressed with "Caesar" dressing, spread on thin garlic toasts, layered on top of each other and then heavily showered with Parmagiano Reggiano. Unfortunately, my cabbages were overdressed and wilted which took away from the crunch you expect from not only cabbage, but also a Caesar salad.
We were pretty stuffed at this point (actually, ZCDIV was pretty stuffed even earlier on), but since dessert was part of the 420 menu (of course), it's not like we were going to turn it away.
The brownie sundae topped with vanilla Dutch Masters ice cream was interesting... our brownie was a little disappointing, being on the dry side, but that ice cream... the vanilla Dutch Masters infused ice cream left a slight tingling sensation at the back of the throat with each bite. But I have to give it to the chef at Eating House: the "breakfast" dessert of Fruity Pebble mousse on top of milk panna cotta then sprinkled with a healthy dose of Fruity Pebbles was the perfect translation of and improvement on cereal. Wow, fantastic!
One last notable: the succinct wine list has great options and is completely affordable, with most bottles in the $40 range, the priciest at around $60. (I was eyeing only whites, and the Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc was fantastic, the Albarino also tasty and they even have a Txakoli available! ZCDIV had a glass of the Malbec which he enjoyed).
What it comes down to... you will definitely be surprised, impressed, and sometimes in awe of what Chef Georgio Rapicavoli does with food. And most importantly, you will definitely leave Eating House happy. Move over Michael's Genuine; I think I found a new Miami fave!
804 Ponce de Leon Blvd at SW 8th St
Coral Gables, FL 33134
Reservations are most easily obtained via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.