Our neighbours love doing brunch on Sundays. Originally from Minnesota, that was their usual routine before they came to Miami for work. So when the invitation came, we thought we could use the company.
After a bit of online research, we found ourselves at Michael's Genuine Food & Drink in Wynwood. Side note, I love Wynwood. It's just a little north from Miami Downtown. Home to this city's arts, design, food and culture - with the Miami Design District and the Miami Institute of Contemporary Art taking up residence. Anyway, digressing.
We got to the restaurant at around 11.45am and we were told by our friends, we'd probably be early for brunch. True enough, it wasn't crowded, but by 30 mins the crowd came in. This is quintessential Miami, we were told, people don't get out till around lunchtime on Sundays. We had thought of making a booking for an 11.00am sitting but we'd have appeared eager noob tourists.
The prices seemed really affordable at Michael's with plates between $9 - $16 and we thought we found a great place. Till they arrived in small tapas share plates. Hmm..
But the pudding is in the taste right?
Between my partner and I, we ordered the Wood Oven Baked 9 Grain Pancake, Crispy Rice Cake and Crispy Pig Ears to share.
The 9 grain pancake got me wondering what went into it cos it had a myriad of what looked like sunflower seeds, pistachio and obviously a bunch of grain in a combination of flavours that were very mild, buttery and light cake texture. I was quipping that it tasted like it's healthy. Till I slathered the whipped butter and maple syrup on the side. And suddenly it was a sweet pancake perfect for a Sunday morning.
The Crispy Rice Cake was a nice cheese filled breaded risotto patty with chorizo and florida rock shrimp inside, topped with a fried egg. It's a pretty little dish. Crunchy outside, gooey comforting texture on the inside. Goes very well with the runny egg yolk serving as sauce atop.
The highlight for us was the Crispy Pig Ears - something the handsome italian looking waiter recommended. Lightly spiced and sliced and deep fried was the description. And it arrived looking exactly and tasting like it said. Crispy and crunchy without any rubbery texture. It was chewy like soft liquorice once you get through the thin crisp exterior.
It came with a wedge of lime to squeeze over. Which, one would expect the citrus acid to cut through the spice and deep fried-ness delivering a light tang and sweet note. But that's where things fell a little short. We could hardly taste the spice and the lime. It felt like the lime and spice might have perfectly muted the typical pungency of the pork that it cancelled each other out, leaving a very neutral thick cut tapioca chips texture with a juicy bite. It delivered something my taste buds were not expecting at all, wanting something sweet to kinda round it out.
Which, I did, dipping into the maple syrup that came along with the pancake.
We left Michael's Genuine Food & Drink unsure if it was a great experience. It was still good, seeing that this is our first proper brunch, having some pleasant surprises. The plates were smaller than we expected leaving us wanting more but we quickly learnt the style of brunch at Michael's is the plate share kind. Wasn't explicit in the menu we found online though. Made us wonder if this was typical in Miami. We'll have to see. We are after all in a completely different part of the globe. One would reserve critical judgement because we're here to experience local tastes and culture. Whether we like it or not is something else altogether, often influenced by bias and what we are used to. When we can leave that behind, we open ourselves to untethered new experiences that can sometimes surprise and educate us.
Next time we're back at Michael's, we might dive into the sweet section of the menu. Oh and the Kimchi Benedict (with pork belly!), our friends ordered and said they were really good.