With Food Republic, The Pubbelly Boys Set Sail for Flavortown

By Santiago Cardona

Pubbelly. The name alone evokes feelings of a well-established brand that has been a forerunner of the Miami culinary scene since 2010. We’re all familiar with the original location on Sunset Harbour, but now the Pubbelly name has begun to expand into bigger horizons. One of the brand’s newest ventures is one aboard a cruise ship; the Norwegian Escape to be exact.

Food Republic’s concept is in line with what Pubbelly does best. By focusing on using local products and getting inspiration from the cultures that make up Miami, Food Republic now has the platform to showcase their exotic flavors and menus outside of the city Pubbelly calls home.

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The menu (which is actually on an iPad) allows you to choose from a selection of great tapas and sushi. Some are Pubbelly favorites, but others are new creations created just for this concept. Items at Food Republic are a la carte with prices ranging from $3.50 to $11 per small plate, a worthwhile price for the caliber of food that is being served.

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Caprese is one of my favorite salads, and Chef Mendin’s local interpretation with Tuna Takati was absolutely incredible. Some people say you should never serve seafood with cheese, but Mendin definitely knows how to bend the rules to his favor.

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The Dates avec Chorizo have become a Pubbelly Miami favorite, and rightfully so. Stuffing a date with chorizo, wrapping it in bacon, and serving with spicy tomato and goat cream result in a bite that makes you feel like everything is right in the world.

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Who would’ve thought that Brussels Sprouts could be so delicious? Add some smoked bacon and miso, and you really can’t go wrong. These may possibly be the best Brussels sprouts I’ve ever tried.

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If fall is your favorite season, you’ll love the Duck Confit Ravioli. The ravioli is served with pumpkin foam, almonds, and soy brown butter, hitting all those warm and hearty notes that fall dishes have come to represent. The homemade pasta was tender as can be, being a perfect vehicle for the succulent duck.

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To finish up the meal, pastry chef Maria sent out a pineapple-inspired dish served inside a coconut because cruises are all about Piña Coladas in any form. She managed to hit all textures, temperatures, and flavors in this dessert, making it a tropical and excellent way to end the meal.

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Santi’s take: If you’re on the Norwegian Escape, taking a night off for Food Republic is a no brainer. Yes, it may not be included in the meal package (meaning its not free), but the experience is well worth it. It’s always nice to support chefs that put Miami on the culinary map, and the fact that the food is incredible doesn’t hurt either.

Standout dishes: As much as I love the Pubbelly classics, the Caprese blew me away. As Outkast once said, this dish is so “fresh and so clean.”

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