Those in the industry get that you can take the man out of the restaurant but you can’t take the restaurant out of the man. Last nights dinner at Route 9 was a reminder how often I miss being involved in really good restaurants…for a moment anyway!
Route 9 is the main drag that runs through upstate NY and is the home to Hyde Park’s most famous residence, the Culinary Institute of America. Yes, this is the thoroughfare where the restaurant pays homage to with its name, as the husband and wife team; Paola and Jeremy Goldberg met here and this is where their culinary road began.
The restaurant sits on the north end of Ponce De Leon, just a short walk from the hustle and bustle of center city Coral Gables. The interior of the restaurant is warm and inviting albeit plane on the second day of operations, however, family touches abound from the real cotton flowers that simply adorn the tables to the chalk drawings in the “Living room” sitting area done by Paola’s sister. The restaurant holds about 60 people intimately, with high ceilings and rich woods.
The eclectic menu that tips its hat to “American cuisine with a Latin and Florida flair” is concise and well thought out. Portions are a value for the quantity of food and the use quality ingredients. On our first visit on their 2nd night we brought wine and bought a bottle of Priorat off the list, but this is a place that even the most seasoned wine snob can find a great bottle and at a steal. The list is maybe 60 selections from around the globe, but not much is familiar on the list which makes one explore and push their comfort zones. Not to miss is a killer beer list that is comprised of some of the best kraft beers from around the US and at least one of them on draft.
As a good Jewish boy growing up in NJ my dad every Winter hung a full Hebrew National Salami in the basement and by the summer we had one of the best hard Salami’s on the planet….that was until Paola decided to make her Roasted Hard Salami that will have you ordering it on every trip. Salty, meaty and smoky goodness that the Rabbi would fight you for! The artisan cheese plate was a great start with a bottle of white burgundy, Reggiano, Manchego & another soft cheese were accompanied with what I will now refer to as Paola Crack, a local honey and her homemade Jalapeno “Jelly” add some mixed olives and some crusty bread an you might think you are in the south of France at the Marche…
The ceviche last night was Escolar with sweet potatoes and was fresh and balanced with just the perfect hint of cilantro (pet peeve of mine too much is like having a bar of soap with your fish…) Those that like fire on their tongues and a great IPA to wash it down with the Sticky wings are for you and they are baked not fried for maximum flavor penetration all the way to the bone. Grilled baby squid were kissed on the fire and were soft and succulent with lentils and fire roasted peppers.
Main plates were an even bigger hit; Hanger Steak with Grilled Romaine with a blue cheese vinaigrette was better than Tony Bordain’s when he was in NYC at Les Halles…. Prosciutto wrapped pork tenderloin with roasted cippolini onions reads like a chef’s nightmare of a dish, over seasoned and then wrapped with salty prosciutto..dry, dry, dry….but Paola’s was roasted to perfection, pink and moist inside and crispy on the outside with the cippolini’s a great dish. The fish tacos were light and heavenly with great soft, yet crisp taco.
Full disclosure is my rep so you need to know that when we arrived last night there was one table in the place and they were finished so they had all hands on deck to make our meal fabulous which it was. It’s my opinion that these two will be able to handle the pressure when the place is packed full with people waiting on the sidewalk! This is the kind of restaurant that exists in every serious food town in America…Chicago, San Francisco, NYC, ect.. , For the life of me I cannot understand why Miami misses the boat? Before you get all high and mighty on me I get that there are good, maybe great restaurants here in MIA, all I’m saying is that there should be more…..
Route 9 is a breath of fresh air in an otherwise corporate, stagnant Coral Gables dining scene. They plan to open for Lunch next week and are planning on having a weekend brunch soon. Paolo and Jeremy have opened a restaurant that is truly an extension of who they are; confident, hip and smart. Finally the neighborhood joint that I can go to over and over! The Wolfepack should take Route 9 and drive there often!
p: 305.569.9009 | f: 305.569.9008| a: 1915 Ponce De Leon | Coral Gables, FL 33134 http://www.route9miami.com