Being a person that does not live in the more popular areas such as Midtown or South Beach can be frustrating sometimes when it comes to food options. Miami Dade is a fairly big county, so the fact that the best eats in the city are usually crammed into two to three areas makes it hard for me to check out all the places I would like, so when I heard about Barley and Swine I got quite excited. This gastropub is located in Downtown Dadeland, which is an up and coming part of the city. As the name suggests, Barley and Swine centers most of its menu on pork-centric dishes while offering quality craft brews, both local and not. The menu is usual Americana dishes elevated to a creative level. The fact that the prices are fair and the atmosphere is inviting does not hurt either.
While the prices are reasonable on any given night, I’ve found that to get the most bang for your buck you should come on a Tuesday night. On this day, the gastropub offers all burgers on their menu for $10 and $4 craft beers. The reduced price on the beer is enough to entice me to come, seeing as the selection they provide is more than enough to satiate my thirst for local brews, but the burgers the kitchen here are cranking out are nothing to be messed with. All burgers are very complex in flavor profiles, but all the toppings are carefully selected to make sure that nothing is out of balance. You can find burgers inspired by different dishes, such as the Caprese, which features fresh mozzarella cheese, basil, fried tomato, balsamic marinade, and basil aioli on an Italian roll or the Death of Elvis, which includes peanut butter, pork belly, marshmallow fluff, potato sticks, and fried plantains on a pretzel roll. No matter which burger you get, the generously seasoned patties are all half a pound and are cooked on a grill. This imparts smokiness to the patties, which are only accentuated by the smokiness of the bacon on the burgers that do contain this topping. The bacon here is not in the usual slices, but instead is roasted pork belly that is cut into squares. This adds a little bit more tenderness and meatiness to the typical bacon that most places serve on their burgers. One complaint I do have is that the patties are a bit thin, and this makes it hard for the kitchen to nail a requested temperature. I asked for a medium rare burger and instead got a medium on various occasions. The cooks back there surely know what they are doing though, since even on the frill they were able to impart a crust on the patty that I usually expect from griddles. This was definitely something I wish more chefs could execute correctly, and it is even enough for me to be able to forgive a burger cooked a bit more than requested.
One idea that Barley and Swine is applying that I quickly became a fan of is that of their daily Mac and Cheese. Basically, they make a specially topped Mac and Cheese on a certain day of the week and continue with this flavor combination for that day on a weekly basis. I have tried the ones available on certain days, but I still hope to try to go on a Thursday for Carbonara. The best one I have tried is the Mac and Cheese on Tuesdays, which is beer cheese and pork belly. Barley and Swine uses shell pasta to make the Mac instead of your expected elbow, and the beer cheese imparts a very subtle but still noticeable flavor that satisfies cravings for a cheesy dish but does not let it go to a level of heaviness that you would expect from such a generous serving. The bacon used is the same as the one from the burgers, so in other words, it is delicious.
I am extremely thankful that restaurants such as these are starting to pop up around areas besides what you expect. Kendall locals need some loving too, and sometimes it is just a hassle to drive so far for good eats. I am starting to become a regular little by little and hope that more places like this continue opening up around the area in the near future.
Barley and Swine
9059 SW 73 COURT, MIAMI, FL 33156
By Food Blogger, Santiago Cardona