Lusting Over Lutum

By Melanie Galarce 

Lutum (1766 Bay Rd, Miami Beach) is a casual American eatery serving South Florida inspired fare in Sunset Harbour. It’s comfort food at it’s best, located where the popular Burger & Beer Joint once stood. Lutum, which means “dirt and soil” in Latin, is the antithesis to the type of restaurant we’ve been seeing pop up in the Sunset Harbor neighborhood; it’s cool, chill, and affordable.

Menu highlights: Lutum offers an eclectic menu and there’s no better portrayal of that than their Falafel Scotch Egg appetizer, which brings fall squash hummus and pickled beets. It’s definitely not the ubiquitous starter that you’ll find at other restaurants, but it’s part of the reason why Lutum will offer a quite memorable dining experience.

If the Scotch Egg is a bit too adventurous for you, I would recommend ordering the Half Roasted Organic Chicken with roasted sweet potatoes, radishes, and aji verde. This dish, which seems to fall on the other end of the spectrum (quite ordinary), is pretty stellar. It’s a very juicy piece of chicken and is full of flavor. Who would have thought chicken could be so good? The aji verde sauce and radishes gave it a perfectly balanced kick and made the dish on of my favs of the night.

And because I love that Lutum has something for everyone, I also tried the Cacio e Pepe with fettuccini and grana padano cheese. I’ll be the first to admit that a plate of fresh, homemade pasta can always conquer a pregnant woman’s heart. Simply sprinkled with remnants of grated cheese, this pasta dish was good enough to make it on any fancy schmancy Italian restaurant menu.

Standout dish: Ironically, this former Burger & Beer Joint location had one of the most memorable burgers I’ve recently eaten. The Lutum Burger brings lettuce, tomato, onion, cheddar cheese sauce, dirty sauce, and a side of fries. Perhaps Head Chef Mayta understood that there might be some big expectations to have a burger readily available at a former popular burger locale, and a darn good one at that, but this was just perfectly charred and juicy. Also, those fries were seasoned lightly (almost decoratively) next to the burger, which made everything come together beautifully. If in doubt, order the burger.

Finally, because no good meal comes to an end without dessert, I had a slice of good ol’ American Apple Pie. I must admit that Apple Pie has never been my go-to dessert, but this particular rendition was crisp and inviting with layers upon layers of apple and came accompanied by bourbon ice cream. Definitely a dish to consider if you have a sweet tooth.

Are we boozing? We’re in South Beach, so we’re definitely boozing. When visiting Lutum, you can expect craft cocktails that will knock you off your feet. Oh yeah, and they’re equally as visually appealing as they are tasty. Mocktails also available upon request (says the woman who is 9 months pregnant).

Check this place out if you like: El Grito. The popular mezcal bar in Sunset Harbour is right next door and just happens to be owned by the same people who opened up Lutum. We’re now officially big fans of both places.

Mel’s take: I love the originality of this place. Yes, the menu may not have one cohesive theme, but that can be a very refreshing thing when dining out with a big group, or quite frankly, with just your significant other. Sometimes everyone at the dinner is up for something very different and that’s exactly what Lutum offers. My hope is that this place is able to keep up with the neighborhood’s long-time favorites like Pubbelly and Lucali because the food deserves equally as much praise and the quality/taste is just as impressive and deserving of your visit.

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