Mentions of the opening of Batch Gastropub led to many people’s anticipation a couple of weeks back. Finally, a restaurant focusing on serving BOTH first-class food and high-quality drinks. I recently stopped by to sample my way through the menu and see what all the fuss was about and to investigate whether Batch was actually filing a very obvious gap in the Brickell area. This neighborhood had been itching for something new, and Batch Gastropub was claiming to be the relief people had been looking for. My experience here led me to conclude that although Batch is doing great things for Brickell, it still has its ways to go before being declared a game changer.
The problem with the food at batch is not that it is unambitious or that it is uninventive, it was just that the executions of the dishes did not measure up to what they could have been. That is not to say that I did not enjoy the dishes here, because I thoroughly enjoyed my meal. It was just that I was not as blown away as I would have preferred. Promises of flare can be spotted when scanning the menu when you see a build-your-own mac and cheese section involving gnocchi and gruyere instead of your typical elbow pasta and cheddar, and a sweet and savory take on chicken and waffles is seen when looking at french toast and duck, but my experience led me to understand that most things here are just impressive on paper.
The entrees I sampled included the Meatloaf, a blend of short rib, bacon, and duck served with polenta and fried brussel sprouts, and the Gnocchi Mac and Cheese, which I added Hanger Steak and caramelized onions to. The meatloaf was quite satisfying, as the bacon provided smokiness to the comfort staple that I had not experienced before, but the duck was nowhere to be found. The meat itself was succulent, even a tad underdone. I personally have no problems eating medium ground meat, but this may be a problem for some. Lumpy polenta accompanied the dish, but the texture was overcome by the exquisite flavor that was provided. When it came to the Mac, the gnocchi felt a bit gummy but the sauce was expertly seasoned and possessed the strong flavor of Gruyere at the forefront. Still, I wish the sauce had applied with more care, as the pasta was literally swimming in it. The medium-rare hanger steak was liberally seasoned with strong hints of pepper, which cut through the richness coming from the mac and cheese.
The star dish of the night for me was the Pork Belly I sampled as an appetizer. Three generously sized portions of this cut where served atop a bed of pear and parsnip puree and topped with shaved parsnips and pumpkin seeds. The meat was succulent and salted perfectly, which was balanced off by the puree that would verge on the point of being too sweet if it were served alone. In this instance, it created a blending of flavors that showed me that this kitchen truly has potential. If all dishes produced this type of flavor and actually lived up to what the menu promises, Batch would be a definite contender in one of the better food destinations in the city.
Cocktails at Batch Gastropub are what really make this restaurant shine. Ingenious takes on classic libations left me wide-eyed throughout my first sips. The same ambition that applied to the food menu is used for the cocktail list, except that this restaurant actually follows through in this aspect. Drinks like the Long “Oolong” Iced Tea provide flavors very seldom-tasted in crafted cocktails, and this is something I truly appreciated.
Management and employees are genuinely helpful and knowledgeable when it comes to the menu. The waitress attending me was lively and knew the food and drink list backward and forward. She was not intrusive and made me feel comfortable during my stay. I have noticed that management is very active when it comes to interaction with customers, especially at the social media level. They take customer suggestions to heart and have people involved with creating menu items, which I applaud. It is very rare to find a restaurant, especially at this scale, that is actually willing to listen to what its customers have to say.
Batch Gastropub is a nice addition to the neighborhood. The food could have been better, but I am giving them the benefit of the doubt and blaming this on the fact that they are recently opened and may still be working out the kinks. Still, if they applied the same level of execution with their food as they are with their drinks, I would find myself here on a regular basis. Until then, I will return when I am craving a cocktail. If I happened to get hungry while here I would eat, but at the moment I can’t say that I would go out of my way to make it here just for food.
By food blogger, Santiago Cardona