Third in my series of chef owner/operated restaurants that offer delicious food, honest value, and good or even great service is Bunbury Miami that specializes in modern Argentine food. I was especially pleased to make this “find” because I often go to the Arsht Center and have been at a loss as to where to go for dinner. That being said, besides all of the above, it’s attractive, comfortable, and, with a series of small spaces, has an intimate feel, so is worth a trip whether or not you’re in the neighborhood. There’s a separate bar area that’s popular for a cocktail at happy hour with one of their delicious house baked empanadas and an adjacent boutique with fashions from Argentine designers.
Bunbury is a Miami success story for Paula Costa, the chef owner. She started with a small, unassuming restaurant in the Wynwood area and then expanded to a 200 seat restaurant and bar in its present location. Choose to sit in what they call the living room, piano bar area or the bar. The décor is not the typical Argentine restaurant you find here in Miami. High ceilings give a sense of spaciousness, while the liberal use of rich wood, low lights, a wall mural made of the fronts of multi colored drawers, and touches like walls that are floor to ceiling bookcases alternating with bottles of wine, give a sense of warmth to the setting. And then there are the unique décor items like a bar front that’s like a cork tapestry, and an artwork made from wine caps.
The dinner menu is divided into main courses, Argentinian style (meats), home made pastas, sides, empanadas, cold cuts and cheese, salads and food for wine and spirits (small plates to share)
We started with a sampling of empanadas with novel fillings such as sweet corn, pumpkin and smoked mozzarella; braised lamb with touch of mozzarella; and prosciutto, mushrooms and brie. The pastry was light and slightly flaky, and the fillings plump and tasty ($5.50 – $6.50 each). Next up was one of their signature items which would be a great for a party: brie crocante, one of the dishes often mentioned on customer reviews. A log of warm brie cheese is breaded with almonds and served with fig vinaigrette and mixed greens ($23) . Mr. W can never resist a good morcilla (blood sausage – $9). He had one and proclaimed it one of the best he has had.
You can’t go to an Argentine restaurant and not have meat. Of the several choices, we opted for the 10 ounce prime vacio — flap steak. It was a standout for the quality and preparation – perfectly charred on the outside, beefy in flavor and tender inside. It is served with truffled mashed potatoes which tasted homemade, along with chimichurri and mixed greens ($39). They’re proud of their duck confit and rightfully so. It was flavorful, tender, and served with yummy mashed sweet potatoes, caramelized shallots and mushrooms ($33).
Accompanying the entrees we chose mushroom confit, whole button mushrooms in a duck fat that were tender and rich ($12). Next time we’d like to try one of the pastas such as the butternut squash ravioli with creamy sage sauce ($29) and the chicken milanesa ($26). Note that all entrees include a vegetable or potato.
We tried two desserts, panqueque de dulce de leche with vanilla ice cream ($13) and the sticky toffee pudding ($12). The latter will go down as one of my best desserts of the year. It is a warm date pudding with butterscotch sauce and vanilla ice cream.
The wine list is solid, with 130 choices, not surprisingly many from Argentina, and reasonable in price: a glass starting at $13 (6 ounce pour) and bottles at $45. They also have a selection of wine, “Paula’s favorites, most priced from $45 to the eighties. Cocktails range from $14 – $18.
Expect a singer doing a medley of jazz, blues and “oldies” Tuesday through Friday, and Sunday brunch, and DJ Friday and Sunday.
Bunbury Miami is open Tuesday through Saturday for lunch and dinner; Sunday for brunch. The lunch menu includes a choice of sandwiches, short rib entrée and spaghetti with beef ragu along with dessert selection. Happy hour is offered Tuesday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Cocktails are $10, wine $9 and beer $5. Bunbury Miami, 55 NE 14th Street, Miami 33132