By Mitchell Nover
Hi there, foodies! It’s the last MMTM blog post of 2017, and I’ve saved the best for last. You may have heard me mention it twice on the WTF? Where’s the Food? Podcast as my favorite meal of the year; yes, I’m talking about Stubborn Seed (101 Washington Ave, South Beach), the new home of Top Chef winner Jeremy Ford and longtime friend Chef Joe Mizzoni. This dynamic duo is collaborating to bring a new take on Modern American cuisine in Miami. Playing with different textures and flavors in the kitchen, they’ve creating a rich menu that features natural, seasonally-sourced ingredients. The concept encourages guests to share and explore, as the chefs revitalize foods and dishes that are often known for their approachability and serve them up in a unique and exciting way.
Menu highlights: There’s no doubt that the best way to experience Stubborn Seed is through its eight course Chef’s Tasting menu. At only $85 a person, it is honestly a fantastic deal for the amount of delicious food you get to enjoy.
Be sure to save room through the first few dishes (more on them later) because around the halfway point of the tasting menu, things kick up a notch. Just when you’ve settled in to some nice, light dishes the heart of the lineup kicks off with a divine Smoked Foie Gras with homestead boniato tortellini, marcona almonds, and spiced quince. Foie is not something that many people enjoy or that many chefs do well, but the team at Stubborn Seed knocks this one out of the park. It’s indulgent, gamey, smooth, and full of that ever-elusive umami flavor.
Up next is a back-to-back surf and turf duo of Roasted King Salmon and Braised Short Rib. Both dishes come with seasonal accompaniments so the exact make up of the final product you are served may change, but either way they each serve up a welcome homeyness and heartiness that you might not expect after all of the previous courses. It’s just another way that Chefs Ford and Mizzoni keep diners on their toes.
For dessert, Pastry Chef Dallas Wynne steps to bat and the surprises keep coming. First, the House Made Cheese with figs, herbs, and crunchy bread provides a nice balance to the previously-devoured decadence of the salmon and short rib, but the real star of the final act is the Corn Pavlova with corn custard and white meringue. I mean, really? Who even thinks of this! Besides being beautifully-plated, this is a dessert that will convert any skeptic and have them forget all about the more traditional cakes and cookies (although those are also options on the Stubborn Seed dessert menu and delicious in their own right).
Standout dish: So I actually kind of shocked myself and thought back on my favorite elements of my meal because these are not the kinds of dishes that I usually go for. But the rapid succession of the Lavash (chicken liver mousse, smoked chili jam), Pommes Souffle (hollow potato, caviar, paprika creme fraiche, salmon roe), and Crab & Corn Beignets (celery remoulade, truffle) in the first act of the tasting menu set the tone for a meal that would continue to combine creative presentation and interesting ingredients to push me and my tastebuds right out of my comfort zone.
Are we boozing? I must say the only downside to my Stubborn Seed experience came from my cocktail order. The DIY Old Fashioned sounds great on paper, but for me the gimmick just didn’t pay off. An Old Fashioned is my go-to drink, so I was bummed that despite the fun of mixing my own, at the end of the day I was left with an $18 cocktail that I just didn’t like. If I had to do it all over again, I’d let the bartender do the work or just stick to the wine list.
Check this place out if you like: Sadly the restaurant and the chef himself both left us way before their time, but when trying to come up with a worthy comparison for Stubborn Seed, I couldn’t help but think back to my 2014 meal at Shikany, and the last time a dinner made me feel this level of excitement. At the forefront of the Wynwood boom, Chef Michael Shikany truly served up art on a plate and he continues to be sorely missed.
Mitch’s take: I’m generally much more of a home style, comfort food kind of guy and, when left to my own devices, steer clear of the fancier fare. But that’s the beauty of Stubborn Seed; it goes beyond satisfaction and offers up a dining experience that truly surprises and delights. If it can keep that up, this seed will definitely continue to blossom for a long time.