Being on vacation in the Miami area certainly has its advantages in terms of the food scene - it's spectacular. I was looking forward to trying something new this year, and being an avid Top Chef fan, I got inspired by Chef Michelle Bernstein, who is often a guest judge on the show. Knowing that she has restaurants in Miami, Dan and I decided to try her sophisticated comfort food eatery, Michy's.
Atmosphere: Colorful, bright and cheery, Michy's is truly a diamond in a still rough but up-and-coming neighborhood in Miami. Dan and I were surprised that such an established chef would seed her roots there, but even before we stepped inside, we knew why.
Confronted by a delicious waft of grilled meat, we were immediately enticed and couldn't wait to walk in and experience it first-hand. Once we did, we liked what we saw - a modern, quirky dining room with a mix of vintage and modern furnishings. Funky patterned antique chairs, long and dangly mother of pearl chandeliers, bright blue floors and orange cushion seating added a lot of whimsy charm to the very packed dining room. On a Tuesday night, we couldn't have been seated without a reservation, which served as a very good sign that we were in for something good.
Food: The menu offered a lot inventive food, infused with Latin flavor, which is Michelle's specialty. We could've gone with a chef's tasting menu, but decided to order a la carte.
Appetizers - Once we saw that Michy's featured a polenta, poached egg combo, we just had to get it. It was even better than we remembered it at reBar, this one having a truffled egg on top that we broke apart with vigor and let seep into the polenta. Tiny delicious bacon bits tied the whole dish together, giving it an amazing smoky aftertaste.
The other starter we indulged in was a seafood ceviche with fresh shrimp, mussels and scallops that were brined in a pickled concoction, together with red onions, lime, cilantro and these fantastic seeds that were crunchy on the outside but soft on the inside (wish I knew what they were). Overall, the ceviche was refreshing and wonderful, tasting like the sea in the best possible way.
Entrees - We both went with heavier proteins, me getting the Churrasco steak with frites and Dan going with the braised short ribs. Michy's offers a fantastic option to order half portions for both apps and entrees, but since we were on vacation and didn't want to risk the chance of leaving unsated, we got full portions.
My churrasco steak was even better than I hoped for, and for the record, it was definitely the culprit of the amazing smell we previewed upon entering the restaurant. Thin, Cuban style skirt steak, it was marinated perfectly, resulting in a very juicy, flavorful meat. I loved the char on the outside, making it slightly crunchy and even more delicious. A side of well done, thin frites were a nice accompaniment to the meat, which I dipped into the velvety Bernaise sauce and a more tangy au poivre steak sauce.
Dan's short ribs were also spectacular, once again showcasing Michy's expertise in protein preparation. The meat separated beautifully from the bone and had a rich, luxurious taste that we couldn't get enough of. A bed of delicate mashed potatoes was a nice pairing, which tasted even better when mixed in with the meaty juices from the short ribs. Breadcrumbs, sweet potatoes and zucchini chunks further decorated the meat, introducing a nice texture variation that didn't go unnoticed.
Dessert - After some deliberation, we settled on Michy's bread pudding, which is said to be the most decadent thing on the menu. Psyched to dig in, it looked a little deceiving because it resembled creme brulee. However once we stuck our forks into the beautiful interior, it was soft as a cloud and so so yummy. The soft brioche bread was mixed with a variety of delicious ingredients such as plump raisins, chocolate chunks, a hint of orange zest as well as some cognac that gave it sophistication. A hefty scoop of real vanilla bean ice cream was the perfect juxtaposition between the warm, doughy interior.
Service and Cost: We were surprised to experience spotty service in the beginning. No menus for a few minutes, not enough attention from the hostess, and "where was the bread?," we both wondered. But as the evening progressed so did the service, in a good way. Our waiter came by and checked in on us a couple of times, the manager too made sure that all was good and the rest of service went off without a hitch. Good stuff.
Prices are expensive but definitely worth it for a special treat, especially if you want to experience one of Miami's finest.