Miami Spice is a wonderful treat for those of us who live and dine in Miami. As soon as the list of restaurants is published I eagerly scour it for the “jewels” – those places where I’m never going to be able to eat lunch for a mere $23 in the other ten months of the year. Some of the Miami Spice lunches are serious home runs – EDGE at The Four Seasons and DB Bistro Moderne come to mind immediately.
But the hottest ticket in town since opening is Alter in Wynwood – and Chef Brad Kilgore’s Miami Spice Lunch literally makes you feel like you’re stealing.
Except there’s no guilt, only glee.
Yes, I have been to Alter for dinner. Yes, I have enjoyed the chef’s tasting menu with that mix of delighted and astounded. I kept repeating the word “brilliant” over and over. “That egg!” “Those wine pairings!” “That bread and umami butter!” If you’ve read any of the articles and blog posts about Alter in recent weeks, the chorus of ooohs and aaaahs been present in just about every one. And to be honest, the chef’s tasting menu at $65 is serious “bang for your buck”.
But lunch for $23? At Alter?
Enter the fear we all have about Spice Menus… right? You know the fear. It’s the fear that the Spice Menu is a stripped down version of the restaurant’s true colors. It’s a legitimate fear and has been proven to be the case in more than one establishment in Miami.
Is that what the Miami Spice Lunch Menu at Alter was going to be like?
Before I answer this question, I have to tell you an anecdote about Brad Kilgore, Alter’s brilliant chef.
Last week, Alter was visited by the Roca brothers. Those Roca brothers. Chef-owners of the best restaurant in the world, El Celler de Can Roca in Spain. They are culinary Royalty. Brad had 30 minutes warning. Someone asked him if he was going to prepare them something “special”, something off-menu. He decided he wouldn’t. He wanted them to taste his plates – what he serves at Alter. He wanted them to try what he serves to everyone.
That decision right there speaks volumes about who Brad is and his level of creative and personal integrity. It also speaks volumes about what you and I get to experience when we, who are not culinary Royalty, get to eat at Alter.
Even during Miami Spice lunch.
The Miami Spice lunch menu at Alter offers you a choice of three first courses, three main dishes and three desserts – all crafted with that same brilliant attention to artistry, seasonal flavors and textures that dinner service showcases so well.
And yes, you can also order “That Egg!” for an additional (and miniscule) upcharge.
I chose the following:
Local Sashimi with assorted sea lettuces, tarragon oil, preserved lemon curd and Korean chili flakes. So fresh, light and complex.
For my main course, I chose the “BLT” with a delicious slab of pressed bacon, topped with tomato jam, Moroccan olives, garlic aioli and one layer of crispy focaccia-like bread. So damn good and surprisingly filling.
For my dessert, I ordered the Florida Tomme, a raw milk pressed cheese with little drops of rhubarb compote, apricot jam, black pepper, citrus zest and accompanied by zaatar lavash. Astoundingly delicious.
Wines by the glass are available and I ordered a glass of the Gothic Nevermore Pinot Noir from Oregon.
It was Start-to-Finish spectacular. The same items that culinary superstars ordered and enjoyed, were mine on a $23 lunch menu.
One last fact about the Roca brother’s visit – to tie this theme together.
When Brad walked to their table after lunch, all six diners led by Joan Roca stood up and applauded him.
Think about that. How would you feel? Arguably the best chef in the world, giving you a standing ovation? Brad later posted on his Instagram account, “Highlight of my career so far”.
Honestly, it’s food that deserves a standing ovation from all of us.
Not just because it is brilliant, creative AND delicious food. But also because the management and chef of a restaurant have decided that no matter who we are - no matter whether it is a Miami Spice lunch or a meal for world-famous guests – ALL of us are going to get the best Chef Brad Kilgore can offer.
223 NW 23rd St.
305 573 5996