#MiamiSpiceMonday – Kebo

One of the best things about the Miami Spice program is that it gives diners a reason to explore some of the city’s culinary offerings that they may not choose under normal circumstances. Some people lean towards high-end restaurants that regularly seem out of reach, some go for new restaurants just joining the local food scene, some try cuisines that are out of there comfort zone, and some are intrigued by the restaurants they’ve never heard of.

In this week’s edition of #MiamiSpiceMonday, we highlight Kebo Restaurant in Key Biscayne. Kebo falls into that last category we mentioned, the one where you’ve probably never heard of it – unless you’re me. Now, I’m not trying to brag, but as you all know from reading this blog I’m a lover of all things Spain and Spanish food. I’m always on the lookout for new Spanish restaurants to try, so after a Key Biscayne beach day a few years back I stumbled upon Kebo when it was just a little market and tapas bar. A few months later they expanded to a full-blown restaurant and my friend, Chef Antonio Puertas, took over the kitchen. Signed, sealed, delivered. I had a new go-to Spanish spot.

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Anyway, back to Miami Spice… We’ve been working with our friends at Meme Menu on some fun, new collaboration ideas (more to come on that later) and were trying to pick a few Miami Spice restaurants to try out together. To my surprise they suggested Kebo, precisely because they had never heard of it before and wanted to check out something new and off the beaten path. To be honest, it made sense because the Meme Menu team prides itself on celebrating independent restaurants that serve local, handcrafted food, and Kebo certainly fits that bill. I gladly offered to join them for a taste test and photo shoot.

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I know what you’re probably thinking at this point. That was kind of a roundabout story, but now that you have the context down we can get into the food. I mean, that’s why you’re here, right?

Graciously, Chef Antonio and team prepared a sampling of dishes from both of Kebo’s Miami Spice menus – FYI, they offer a lunch and dinner menu 7 days a week – but we’ll start by sharing the lunch offerings.

All of the appetizer options are vegetarian. I have to admit that when I see vegges vs. meat on menus, I almost always go for the meat, but there’s something refreshing about the salad and soup choices here. Maybe it’s because you can tell there’s some serious thought and work put into them. These are not throwaway dishes whatsoever.

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First up, the Tricolor de Sopas Frias: A trio of cold soups, typical of the southern Spanish province of Andalucía. Andalucía and Miami have a lot in common, but mostly because they both get extremely hot in the summer. The cold soups come in very handy to combat the calor.

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1 of 3: Green Peas.

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2 of 3: Salmorejo. (A riff on Gazpacho, from Córdoba, that purees together tomatoes, bread, garlic, oil, and vinegar.)

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3 of 3: White Asparagus.

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The second lunch appetizer I tried is the Organic Quinoa Salad with Fresh Vegetables. This is another great choice to cool off in Miami’s dog days of summer. The cold preparation of the quinoa – mixed with the crunch from the veggies and topped with a tangy vinaigrette – is simple and delightful.

When it comes to the lunch entree choices, they are varied in flavor and lunch appropriate with two seafood options and one chicken. You won’t need a siesta before heading back to work, although you might want one anyway.

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I was only able to try one of the three lunch entrees, but it was a serious knockout. The Fresh Red Tuna Loin with Soy and Orange Sauce is unlike any Spanish dish I’ve had before. The perfectly seared tuna steak pairs beautifully with the sweet and sour-esque sauce, and the creamy wild rice on the side is a great accompaniment.

We decided to skip dessert (remember we still have dinner dishes to taste), but if choose to lunch at Kebo during Miami Spice, you’ll enjoy a Brazo Gitano – a traditional Spanish roulade cake – as your sweet ending.

Now, on to dinner. Once again, the appetizers are all vegetarian and, once again, I have no problem with that because these soups and salads are interesting and complex. They won’t fill you up prematurely and prepare your palate quite nicely for the entrees that are to come.

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The Caramelized Onion Soup, unlike the lunch soup, is a warm option. It’s a pretty standard onion soup, but the topping is what really makes it special. The two pieces to toast provide a nice crunch and the Manchego cheese sphere, when broken, mixes in another layer of creamy flavor. In addition to the soup, I really enjoyed Chef Antonio’s pairing of modern and traditional cooking techniques here.

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On the salad side, we had a very Mediterranean Tower of Tomato, Rice, and Avocado. I usually wouldn’t think of using the word hearty to describe an appetizer salad, but, as I’m typing, this is the word that keeps coming to mind.

The dinner entrees read heavier on the menu, which they should. You have a fish option, a steak option, and a vegetarian option. Hey vegetarians, have you taken note yet?

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Similar to the lunch tasting, I only tried one of the dinner entrees and, once again, it was a stunner. The Cod Fish Tenderloin Au Gratin with Garlic Mousseline, Fresh Tomato Jam and Grilled Mashed Potatoes is not just a mouthful to say, but also to eat. By reading the menu description you’d think there’s no way this could work. Cod, cheese, tomato jam, and mashed potatoes sounds like a lot of competing flavors and textures, but they all come together really nicely. When combined all together in one bite, it makes your taste buds want to start dancing flamenco. Olé!

We skipped dessert again on the dinner menu because we pretty much couldn’t breathe at this point, but if you choose to dine at Kebo during Miami Spice you’ll enjoy a Tarta de Santiago – a classic almond cake from Galicia – at the end of your meal.

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The Spice price is right because: Whether you decide to visit for lunch or dinner, the Miami Spice menus at Kebo will surprise you. It’s not just that you’ve never heard of this restaurant, but you’ve probably never tasted Spanish food like this before either. On top of that, the menus are well thought out, offer full portion sizes, and is varied and complex in flavor. Well worth the cost of admission if you ask me.

Standout dishes: Chef Antonio is showing off a little with the Miami Spice menus. He’s taking well-known Spanish flavors and reimagining them in innovative and unexpected dishes. While the appetizer salads were a nice change from the traditionally heavy tapas selections, the true standouts were each of the main course options we tried. The Red Tuna Loin (lunch) and Cod Fish Tenderloin (dinner) were simply outstanding plates of food.

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Special thanks to the Meme Menu team once again for 1. being our friends; 2. inviting us to this amazing meal; and 3. providing us with your beautiful food photos that are sure to inspire our readers to discover something new.

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