OCTOBER 6, 2016
First stops at the Pubbelly Boys’ New American craft eatery include broiled oysters finished with Grana Padano (aka the king of Italian cheeses), roasted cabbage, and oregano.
It’s close to sunset in the heart of downtown and there’s a line around the block to get to the roof of the Langford Hotel, where the Pubbelly Boys’ first cocktail bar, Pawn Broker, is overflowing with young, dapperly dressed professionals imbibing from miniature copper bathtubs and Snapchatting Miami’s purple skyline. Inside, five-time James Beard Award nominee José Mendín moves around swiftly—curried chicken croquetas and crispy pig ears in hand—backed by the beat of the DJ, before hurrying into the elevator to the lobby, where PB Station is about to get hit with a date-night dinner crowd.
The scene is a far cry from just eight hours ago, when suits closing deals over lunch crowded the dining room, reminiscent of a train station, complete with a long narrow entryway (doubling as a bar) plastered with pop culture posters and advertisements. “Because of the neighborhood we’re in, we wanted to elicit a gritty yet city feel, kind of like when you walk into a subway tunnel,” says easily identifiable co-owner Andreas Schreiner (simply look for the guy working front of house sporting a pig tattoo, the Boys’ logo, on his left wrist). “Sergio [Navarro] and I—José porked out—got [the tattoo] before our health inspection at Pubbelly he recalls. “It brought us good luck.”
Six years and eight concepts later, Miami’s undisputed kings of swine have yet to run out of luck or ideas, as evidenced by the menu at PB Station, an amalgamation of cuisines and techniques from all over the world, without a sliver of pork in sight. “You can go to Pubbelly for that,” says Schreiner. “We wanted this to be different.”
Originally intended as a reincarnation of PB Steak, PB Station is a departure from all you’ve come to expect from Mendín, who, along with Executive Chef Guillermo Concha, is dishing out delectable novelty in the form of handcrafted seafood charcuterie (think octopus pepperoni or rock shrimp mortadella), barbecue dates (with smoked brisket and mustard barbecue), and a veggie burger that gets sent back to the kitchen at least once a day because diners mistake the juicy roasted beet patty for meat. “They can’t believe it until they try it, then they’re hooked,” says Concha.
Equally addicting is the prime rib sandwich with garlic butter, caramelized onions, horseradish mustard, and (wait for it) umami jus for dipping—a tribute to the American classic. Latin, European, and Asian riffs on Americana are a unifying theme, from raw Wagyu beef carpaccio that’s been coated in brioche crumbs to freshly made saffron linguini with piquant cured salami, rock shrimp, crab, and lemon bread crumbs and right on to dessert.
Mendín takes classic treats like flan and arroz con leche, cheesecake and panna cotta, or bread pudding and quintessential apple pie and not only marries them, but finishes them off with house-made maple soft-serve for an extra-sweet ending to an already sweet meal. 121 SE First St., Miami, 305-420-2205