A few epicurious individuals have ventured on the path of opening gastropubs and have been unsuccessful — anyone remember Jake’s in South Miami? Poor short lived local offering a decent environment with some serious food but still left you yearning for that unpretentious tavern feel. So when I hear amazing things about Pubbelly, a South Beach location that provides just that .. I waited. It must be too good to be true. Unpretentious? On the beach? Debatable. I really could just keep going and going but my hesitations quickly subsided the moment I stepped through the entrance. Despite the crowds, the staff was extremely friendly and we only had to wait 10 minutes tops for a table. Pubbelly, a self proclaimed traditional “tavern with innovative and chef driven culinary concept” lives up to the hype. Their menu offers a little bit of something for everyone and with the tapas style plates, it’s best to come with a group and an appetite because you will want to savor every bite.
Octopus a la Plancha. Grilled octopus can sometimes taste rubbery and chewy when overcooked. You may be shocked when you take your first bite at this starter, especially if you think octopus should be chewy because this will be anything but. There is a bit of a kick to it but it’s very tolerable, especially if your last bite is of the creamy aoili potatoes.
Duck dumplings with truffle. The lemon flavor and truffle infused sauce makes you slightly pucker your lips just to make sure you really took all the flavors in as best as you possibly can. This is a dish you don’t want to devour in a few minutes though not doing that takes some serious self-restraint. You really have to enjoy each and every bite to let the layers and textures each have their own moment of fame.
Pork belly. This is what Pubbelly is known for. I’ve been loyal to db Bistro‘s pork belly bar bite but my loyalties may have shifted with this perfectly glazed, tender, melt in your mouth piece of heaven. Pork belly’s crispy skin is one of my guilty pleasures. Let me start with the size of this dish. It’s unreal for pork belly. When you see this on a menu, normally you’re given 2 to 3 small strips of crispy pork belly. Sometimes even bite size portions that you can easily pop in your mouth enjoy 3 seconds of great flavor and poof! it’s gone. At Pubbelly, no dears that’s not the experience they deliver. You’ll receive a portion large enough for two to share and be satisfied. At first sight you think how am I going to dig into this with a chopstick? The chef has kindly precut it for you in 5-6 portions but this assist is disguised with a rich, sweet glaze that preps you for the juicy layer that follows. It’s a great combination with the crushed corn dust on top of a bed of sweet potato puree. This is a must order.
Brussel sprouts. These sprouts are in a head to head race with the brussel sprouts at gigi only because they are cooked in a very similar style. The main difference between the two dishes is that Pubbelly’s version doesn’t include cauliflower. Don’t feel like you’re getting short changed here because there is a boat load of crispy bacon that adds tons of smokey flavor to the soy marinaded sprouts. In all seriousness though, what isn’t better with bacon? Don’t feel bad for Piglet either – this is one creature that provides various cooking options and flavor enhacements for the inner piggy in all of us.
Don’t be a fool like MM and get out to Pubbelly – this surely is a place you don’t want to be the last in town to try out!