Like all popular neighborhoods in Miami, Miracle Mile in Coral Gables has a type of crowd, one I haven’t been much of a part of since the 2000s (with the exception of my sporadic visits for brunch at The Local or to be reminded how much of a traitor I am by my lack of visits to hidden-gem favorite, Uvaggio). I fail as a “defender” of the mainland, for my stomping grounds tend to be Wynwood, Midtown, more recently MiMo and the Mid Beach area; admittedly the “trendier” parts of town.
But my moth-like affliction to any institution that proclaims a “craft cocktail” menu is unwavering, so last week I finally decided to yield into the calling and venture toward Trust & Co., the new addition of the Miracle Mile extended corridor, where Jerry Flynn--ex co creator of Brickell’s Batch Gastropub--has commandeered the 6,000-square-foot space across the street from established Fritz & Franz Bierhaus.
Considering Miami’s revolving door of gastropubs and hyped-up concepts, you really have to trust your gut to open something this large. The expansive restaurant offers indoor and outdoor seating. In the front area, you will find find your casual happy-hour vibes executed with exposed concrete and subway-tiled walls, and a high-top surrounded rectangular island bar that is lined with large flat-screen TV’s. Toward the back you’ll find a more intimate restaurant setting of brick walls, dark wooden furnishings and red leather booths, softly lit by the lumber of a fully open kitchen. The decor leaves much to be desired, as the areas seemed disconnected, which could be the downfall of such a large space in an area where establishments are sought out for their chic environment rather than whatever inventive dishes it may offer.
We were tended to in the midst of the shift change, so I won’t be critical about the confusion from the servers. It’s to be noted, however, that they don’t serve the dinner menu til 5 p.m., so we opted for a couple of appetizers with our drink orders. My apprehension made itself apparent as my partner and I perused the incredibly extensive cocktail list which offered more vodka cocktails than I’ve ever seen on any curated craft menu. The 30 librations are divided into categories that include House Cocktails--from where my partner ordered the Canned Heat with Herradura Blanco Tequila, Ancho Reyes Liqueur, house made celery shrub, sriracha bitters and lime juice-- Martini & Coupe, Crushed Cocktails, Triple Crown Collection and Coffee Cocktails. As a gin drinker I struggled through my decision because some of my favorite classics like the Aviation and the Negroni had replaced my herbaceous spirit of choice with, you guessed it, vodka.
But the one gin drink out of the pair offered that caught my attention was one that I have been chasing after since my days in New Orleans, and one that very few bartenders seem to be able to recreate; The Porch Swing. Traditionally the cocktail includes Pimm’s, but at Trust and Co. they replace the citrus and fruity liqueur with Aperol, which still blends well with Sapphire Bombay gin, St. Germain and Lemon Juice. I was pleasantly surprised with the find, to say the least.
The appetizers we opted for, that were also part of the happy hour menu, were the frequently talked about Great Northern White Bean Dip, served with crushed black olives and sprinkled with Vadouvan spice to be scooped with homemade white flat bread, and the Bacon and Date (and manchego) Croquettes with a house-made membrillo compote. The dip was a welcomed change in texture, but the olives and the spice did very little to spruce up the neutral nature of the paste. On the other hand, the croquettes--an item often too commonplace on menus around the city--were delightfully creamy and packed a punch in every bite. This was also due in part because unlike the typical croquetas recipe we’re accustomed to, these were made with bechamel, the Spanish, or French, traditional way. The mother sauce melts in your mouth, balancing the spice of the chorizo and sweetness of the dates and keeping true to the dishes origins.
Finally 5 o’clock rolled around and we were ready to get serious. The menu is divided into small plates, charcuterie board, raw bar, flat breads, salads, pasta & noodles, sandwiches, seafood and meat, with influences across the board including Asian, European, and Hispanic. Following the servers lead, we ordered the Kalbi Short Ribs cooked in a Korean BBQ adobo and served with a green apple slaw. These were lots of fun and full of flavor, and cooked just so the meat unhinges from the bone as you bite into them.
Looking for something a bit more adventurous, I stumbled upon the Grilled Artichokes. Before you dismiss everything I’ve written solely on that statement, bear with me, for my interest was piqued by an ingredient I often enjoyed in my childhood that I’ve only been able to find in Spanish specialty stores; boquerones. Boquerones--a very traditional tapa in Spain--are fresh anchovy fillets cleaned, de-scaled, and submerged in a bath of salt, water, and vinegar. The fillets slowly turn white as the vinegar reacts with the fish. Once having gone through this process, they’re seasoned with minced garlic, olive oil and parsley.
The salinity of the boquerones, along with the lemon and the pungent Great Hill Blue Cheese would have really given the meaty familiar vegetable a run for its money, had it not been for the the spinach chimichurri sauce is was served on. In my opinion, Spinach lacks in flavor what it delivers in nutrition, and more often than not it nullifies sapor. Tsk tsk Trust and Co., whatever happened to the integrity of the dishes? "If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it". And considering chimichurri is made with parsley, olive oil and garlic… you get my point.
The meal had taken a lot of interesting turns up to now, and we were certainly more curious than apprehensive, so noting its mention on The New Times and Hungry Post, we longed for chef Pablo Zitzmann’s Spice Crusted Duck Breast--a recipe that hailed all the way from Eleven Madison Park. But the duck recipe had changed, and I like to think for the better. Regardless, there is no denying the man knows his way around the usually fickle bird.
Our duck was also crusted in fennel and coriander seed, but instead of the turnip puree mentioned, ours was served atop a rich velvety mole Poblano with a spicy Vietnamese Florida Mango salad--the tanginess of wish brightened and heightened the complex deep nuisance of the already rich flavors. Never has a hodgepodge of techniques made a duck dish soar to such heights.
You have to give it to Trust and Co. for keeping themselves as equality bold and creative, and inventive, as they keep to the seasons. It was then that I thought to myself, maybe I will have that vodka drink after all.
2 Aragon Ave, Coral Gables, FL 33134