Blue Collar- Miami FL
One of the things I find most appealing is big food. No not necessarily in portion size but in flavor. In the heart of the re-gentrifying MiMo district, this non-descript appendage of the Biscayne Inn belies what you’ll find inside. Looking like an old sandwich shop with simple retro-modern furniture/decor and a small patio it features classic comfort food with some new interpretations.
After picking up a very hungry girlfriend at the airport our first stop was here for lunch -you didn’t think Hungry Uncle could have a girlfriend who didn’t like to eat, did you? Just missing the bulk of the lunch crowd , we were quickly seated and given menus. After a previous night of heavy food and a few too many adult beverages I wanted to try something a little lighter. Grilled Mahi Mahi seemed to be a logical choice. Yeah, I know I said this was a place for comfort food but there are other options for those who are so inclined .
Properly seasoned and grilled, the fish came with a choice of two sides from the Vegetable Chalkboard which provides a huge array of veggies and starches. I don’t care if you’re one of those people who hates vegetables, you will find something here. I chose Caramelized Brussel Sprouts and Curried Cauliflower Puree. The Brussels were good but the Cauliflower exceeded expectations. My first impression was that the deep curry yellow would bring far too much seasoning that completely masked the vegetables. Not true at all. It really worked. An explosion of curry with the Cauliflower acting as a foundation. The little pieces of roasted vegetable were a nice contrast in texture. As to my girlfriend’s sandwich, The Big Ragout.
Hollowed-out Crusty bread with Pork and Veal shoulder, Brisket, Fresh Mozz and Parm (plus a little mixed green salad). It was a rich, juicy, decadent fall apart braise that kept calling me to pilfer another bite-damn it hurts when your knuckles get whacked with a spoon! Not satisfied with just the savory I had to order the house made Key Lime Pie. Smooth and creamy with no lack of lime tang, it was a perfect way to finish the meal. Just by chance we had been sitting immediately adjacent to the open kitchen which gave me the chance to complement the chef on his cooking. He introduced himself as Derek (Camejo) and it turned out he was the restaurant’s Chef de Cuisine. He was nice enough to engage in a few minutes of conversation while he continued to turn out dishes. Before leaving he suggested we come back for brunch. Once he mentioned the Duck “McMuffin” I was sold.
Returning two days later with my girlfriend and a local buddy, timing was once again on our side. We got the last table before a line about ten deep developed. The coffee in the old school plaid thermos had me thinking of all things Brady Bunch. I’m sure if I had a few cocktails in me the thoughts would have shifted to Sigmund and the Seamonsters or some other 1970’s hallucination from the minds of Sid and Marty Krofft …..I’m happy to say that the food was equally as good as the previous visit. The greatly anticipated Duck “McMuffin”-Duck Bacon, Smoked Gouda, Portuguese Muffin, Lemon Aoili, Sunny Side Up Duck Eggs, Duck Jus Pork. You must try this elevated version of fast food “disgustingness”. Sorry Ronald, one bite of this and you’ll be the cryin’ on the inside type of clown…… Chef Derek told me he cured the meat before rendering it down which did a nice job a creating a tender bite. Pork and Beans-Smokey Bacon, Berkshire Sausage, Fried Eggs, Toast. So engrossed in my own meal, I forgot to ask for a taste but my friend plowed through it seeming to enjoying every bite. Smoked Salmon Benedict- substituting smoked salmon for the Canadian bacon and Chanukah (potato) Latkes for the English muffins. A great variation on the classic. Like the vulture I am, I promptly devoured what she didn’t finish.
Unlike a real earthquake, having your taste buds shaken to their core is a good thing. I highly recommend you stop into Blue Collar and let chef Derek make your palate smile.