Meat Market Miami, located midway down SoBe’s celebrated pedestrian Lincoln Road mall, should be the model for Miami’s booming steakhouse scene. A sense of serene, unaffected cool, wafts from the doors and warms the intimate candlelit tables elegantly arranged on the outdoor patio. As guests step into the main dining room, they are transported onto a glamorous film set. The chic enclave is decorated in golden sunset tones, a perfect backdrop from the bronzed local foodies mingling with the even more conspicuously tanned upscale tourists. On any day of the week, this is the place Miami’s elite flock to get their protein and people-watching fix or (as the name testifies), to meat and to meet.
The sleek black bar is shaped to turn strangers into intriguing friends, and is the locale for one of Miami’s premier cocktail happy hours (Fridays 5-8pm). The hand-made cocktails ($7 HH/$14) are exotic combinations of hard liquor and seasonal ingredients. Two of my favorites are the cooling Cucumber Southside, which muddles Hendricks gin, cucumber, mint, lime and cane syrup and the Jordi, a blend of ketel one orange vodka, papaya, kiwi, citrus and Caribbean velvet falernum.
Another happy hour must have is the fresh ceviche ($9 HH/MP), made with the catch of the day. This daily special is an innovative blend of seasonal seafood with global ingredients, two recent examples; yellow jack with papaya, jalapeno, scallions, pickled red onions, cilantro, lime, sweet chili aji sauce; cobia, sweet potato aji sauce, apple red onion salad, pickled star fruit, paper wonton strings and pistachio.
A gourmet bread platter, wasabi peas, cayenne-spiked large Peruvian corn and mixed nuts are offered for all the dinning guests. For the starter, Chef Sean Brasel’s saintly tuna tartare ($18) with ginger soy avocado and mango mole is on my shortlist of best in the city. The tartare is a bright melody of plump pieces of gently marinated Ahi nested in between finely diced mango and ripened avocado. The House salad ($9) will please any lady whether calorie restricted from a tight-fitting dress or not. The mildly sweet red wine vinaigrette lightly dresses cold, crisp greens, crunchy candied walnuts and creamy nuggets of goat cheese.
If the word diet doesn’t exist in your vocabulary, the wood-grilled kobe meatloaf wrapped in bacon ($24) is solace on a plate. A liberal portion of succulent meat bathing in its juices is enhanced with the essences of the smoky wood, mango barbecue sauce and earthy truffle, all complimented with crispy onions and truffle mash.
The sea bass with feathery edamame mash ($35) is immersed in a perfectly orchestrated broth of wild mushrooms, sweet corn, tomato concasse and truffle sage ,and is the essential choice for any seafood lover. For the pure carnivore, selections include half or full portions of an exquisite variety of steaks and reserve cuts. Seared medallions of foie gras (a la rossini) can be added, along with a decadent sauce; Jack Daniels pasilla garlic, peppercorn cognac or lobsters butter are a few options.
The twenty-one side dishes ($9) are entirely worthy of the stella main plates. Standouts include the robust truffle creamed corn, gouda tarter-tots, and the melt-in-your-mouth sweet potato fries with honey creme fraiche. The wine list is elaborate–with hundreds of wines that are sturdy enough to stand up to these broad-shouldered steaks.
For the finale, silky pistachio creme brulee and South Florida’s famed key lime pie are the apogee of these classic desserts. A lighter, yet laudable option would be the fresh fruit sorbets of lychee, passion fruit and raspberry (flavors vary). This playful burst of velvety fruit dissolves merrily on the palate, just as it would in an Italian Gelateria.
Meat Market Miami is not only a glamorous meeting ground for hipster epicureans, it consistently delivers excellence from svelte professional staff to the distinguished palate of the meat aficionado or the seafood connoisseur, all imbued in a chic minimalistic atmosphere.