This edition of #MiamiSpiceMonday is a special one. It’s not only our last Miami Spice review since the season comes to an end, but we’ll also be sharing a lunch experience rather than the dinner journeys we’ve been telling you about for the last two months.
This review takes us to heart of Wynwood and a 65-seat restaurant by the audacious name of Alter. It’s the brainchild of Chef Brad Kilgore, who sports an impressive resume that includes gigs at J&G Grill at Bal Harbour and Azul.
Although Kilgore is not a Florida native, he’s been quoted as saying that his restaurant’s menu was created to “alter your perception of what you can make with ingredients available [in Florida.]” I’m always up for breaking the rules when it comes to food; altering pre-conceived notions about the sunshine state and it’s cuisine limitations is a challenge that I’m happy to take.
I went to eat at Alter with Mitch (obviously) and our significant others, and we decided to indulge in an elaborate meal to make sure we tried a bit of everything. The Miami Spice menu is very simple with limited options (3 per course), so we basically made things easy and tried every dish available.
We started our rendezvous with the Scallop Carpaccio which was a great start. Light and refreshing but full of flavor. With dill oil, cucumber, lemongrass consome, yuzu kosho (Japanese seasoning) and celery, the dish was reflective of the chef’s organic influence and soft dishes that tease the palate.
The Blue Crab Shumai was also wonderful. It brought Thai green curry, cilantro relish, kumquat and rice crisps. It was perhaps the most aesthetically pleasing dish of them all. With three perfectly adorned dumplings resting on an impressive, bold plate amidst a creamy broth. This dish added artistic credentials to the chef’s talents.
The soft egg was a very special dish (and a crowd favorite); it’s Chef Kilgore at his best. The ability to transform the egg into a dish that feels like something new and innovative is one I celebrate. A Florida egg, covered with sea scallop espuma (foam), house made truffle pearls and a perfect gruyere crisp. These are the dishes we at #MMTM headquarters live for. Needless to say, the $9 upcharge for this upgrade is totally worth the investment. We caution to tell you that this picture does the dish no justice, it’s only by dissecting this creative plate that you find layers of culinary delight.
The entrees were also a juxtaposition of innovative takes on traditional dishes. The Eggplant “Pastrami” brought acorn squash puree, ras el haunt (spice mix from North Africa), and soy brown butter with a pickled pear. Although it was a small serving, I enjoyed every tiny bite. My only wish would be to have this vegetarian dish be a bit more fulfilling.
Alter’s take on the rock shrimp was also an out-of-the-box dish that oozes success. With chorizo butter, marble potato, avocado puree, piquillo (pepper) and frisee, the small breaded dish is inventive and cohesive, leaving you to doubt any prior rock shrimp experiences you may have had.
The glazed brisket was another one of my favorite dishes. With pumpernickel, migas, kale slaw, crisp apple and pistachio. The meat was so soft and tender it felt a little like butter in your mouth and the accompanying flavors of the apple and pistachio gave it hints of unexpected (but welcomed) sweetness.
I’ll regretfully admit that the only part of lunch that left me wanting more was dessert. If I had to choose a favorite it would be the Panna Cotta with yogurt, lychee and carrot passion fruit sorbet. Although a bit too fruity for my taste in dessert, the sorbet was original and memorable.
The Floridian Tomme (with nectarine compote, fig, and long pepper lavash) would make for a great appetizer. I’m a full blown American (and Colombian) who appreciates cheese before the meal not after and as so, expect chocolate for dessert. I take full responsibility for this cultural ignorance but it’s hard to break away from 30 years of culinary conditioning.
Last but not least was the Chocolate Mousse with mint ice cream, chocolate streusel and hibiscus. Again, I blame American culture (or cafecito Cubano) for driving my sugar expectations to be astronomically high but this dessert was just ok. I’m also not a huge fan of mint with chocolate and think these should always remain mutually exclusive, so I give the disclaimer and encourage you to try the dish on your own if you’re a fan of the combination.
The spice price is right because: I really enjoyed our Miami Spice experience at Alter. Some of the dishes were a bit out of my comfort zone, but I appreciate the diversion from the usual. The dishes were aesthetic masterpieces and although the serving sizes seem deceptively small, I left feeling satisfied – and adventurous.
Standout Dish: The soft egg. I would never have ordered this if it weren’t for Mitch’s recommendation who’s my BFF (best foodie friend) and I trust whole heartedly, A concoction like no other, this eccentric and daring dish will leave you feeling weak in the knees and take you back to basics. Chef Kilgore cooks one hell of an egg. Honorable mention goes to the glazed brisket that was simply divine.