Over the holidays, my old friend and his girlfriend arrived in Miami craving Cuban food. We grew up together in South Florida, and he wanted to amaze his soon-to-be fiancée (he proposed later that weekend) with something bold yet rooted in tradition; something ballsy and impressive, like her.
Instead of hitting any of the staple establishments scattered along Calle Ocho and throughout Miami, I suggested Bread + Butter. Established in 2012, the restaurant still holds the culinary attention of South Florida as it continues to break new ground with innovative presentations of Cubano favorites.
We arrived early and were, at first, the only three patrons in the restaurant. This provided an ideal chance to quiz our waiter on his menu preferences: Once the nearby Miracle Theatre and Coral Gables Art Cinema opened their doors, the restaurant filled to capacity.
Following our server’s suggestions, we started with whipped goat cheese, pistachios and torn herbs; and chicharrones de puerco: crisp pork belly over a truffle black bean puree, topped with maduro plantain relish, and sprinkled with puffed rice. Next we split our respective entrees: bistec with cauliflower and yucca gratin, pearl onion fondant, and black garlic sauce; and the pan con lechon bau bun topped with fresh scallions. The Humboldt Fog Goat Cheese Flan is served in individual tin cans along with long iced tea spoons so one can dig deep into the can for every last bit of goodness. Also on the menu, but more than we could handle, were selections of guava barbeque, empanadas with chimmichuri, and croquetas de media noche.
Chef Albert Cabrera designed the restaurant to feel like his family’s own dinner table, extended to his guests. Memory and nostalgia are part of the crisp, the savory and the sweet, all fused into the distinctive tastes of South Florida. One of the most innovative chefs in Miami, Cabrera presents his nightly comparsa to the delight of his diners.
According to Bread + Butter’s website, “We wanted to merge an authentic Cuban cafeteria with a gastropub, bringing those two cultures together,” and this is precisely what Cabrera has accomplished, with an impressively light touch. Perfect fusion of Cuban and American fare, the feel of the place is that of your grandfather’s kitchen, but with a modern twist, giving it both old world and contemporary flavors—from the detail on the leather chairs by the large front window to the rustic tables and chairs. From the butcher block counter with metal barstools to the black and white pictures of the chef’s family; painted on the wall are the first lines of José Martí’s “Cultivo Una Rosa Blanca.” Gastronomical nostalgia whipped with contemporary innovation by a skilled hand is what makes this place romantic y rustico.
My friends were enthralled with the locale, food, and presentation—yours will be, too.
Omar Figueras, Arts & Lifestyle Contributor