The Eating House in Miami (Coral Gables) is one of the best new restaurants to come to my neighborhood, and they’re now open for lunch. I’ve been to this popular spot on the corner of 8th Street and Ponce de Leon Blvd in the heart of North Gables several times since it opened permanently. Eating House was once a pop-up concept operating out of a lifeless Argentinian Bakery at nighttime and for brunch on Sundays. Now this hotspot has evolved to offer lunch, dinner, and brunch service. The interior feels like you’re in the apartment or home of a twenty-something year old from Miami. The back wall is one giant built-in bookshelf with Nikes, Miami Heat memorabilia, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figurines, wine glass, bottles, and colorfully painted Cuban Cuban Coffee Maker or Cafetera. The walls are adorned with graffiti art that remind me of being in middle school here in Miami. The décor is simple, modern, and hip managing to emanate personality in this ultra-tiny dining spot. I didn’t count the number of tables here, but I’d guesstimate there to be no more than 12-15?
So since this is my most recent dining experience here I’ll talk about going to lunch with my momma. As I went inside to be seated my mom was parking the car, so I sat at the table thinking, “the server will come by shortly, and I can give them my credit card and pay the check sneakily!” Well…this did not happen. I must’ve been sitting for 5-7 minutes waiting for someone to swing by, when I saw my mom coming towards the door (!!!). At this point I had to get up and give my credit card to the guy that sat me. Our server comes some time later, and she seriously just stood by the table waiting for us to start talking. In my opinion, this reveals no established style of service. I think it is a bit strange for your server not to welcome you to the restaurant and tell you any specials or featured items; at the bare minimum she should have prompted us to order. Also I noticed at night all of the servers (men and women alike) wear plaid shirts, but at lunch everyone was wearing a t-shirt instead. **Hint: For gentleman dining here on dates- AVOID wearing a plaid shirt- you’ll end up looking like one of the servers.**
During this visit we ordered the lettuce wraps with grilled chicken, slaw, peanuts, and nuoc cham $11, the short rib truffle sliders $12, grain salad with quinoa, faro, and sesame $5, and the B.L.L.T- bacon, lechon asado, lettuce, and tomato sandwich $11. Three lettuce wraps came in the order, and the chicken was juicy and well-seasoned; it could have been a light lunch for one. The presentation was lovely although I think tossing everything in burger baskets is haphazard and careless. Eating House might be going for a casual vibe, especially at lunch, but I think the plating of everything in burger baskets discredits the skill of the chef and is incongruent with their status and a ‘foodie spot’. Anyways…as we’re eating our lettuce wraps enjoying a nice lunch together, the food runner brings EVERYTHING else that we ordered to the table at once. Mind you, we are sitting at a two-top with very little table space, especially since tables are adorned with a god-awful-hideous napkin dispenser taking up considerable room. Instead of offering to hold food items, or TIMING the food to come out so each dish can be enjoyed one at a time, he dropped the baskets leaving the table littered in an array of burger baskets.
Now for the rest of the food: The B.L.L.T. was disappointing. The bread didn’t seem homemade for sure and was that dry Cuban bread that is in desperate need of some butter and a sandwich press. The lechon asado itself was dry, and I was perplexed by the dark green paste that at first seemed like avocado spread onto the bread. Turns out it is a “house chimichurri” made out of shishito peppers, shallots, and parsley. A nice cilantro mayonnaise or parsley mayo spread could have gone further here than the chimichurri. The bread was all wrong for this sandwich, and it was my least favorite of the day. The quinoa and sesame grain side item was DRENCHED in sesame oil. Maybe drenched isn’t the right word- but it was overwhelmingly scented with soy and sesame. I am not a huge fan of sesame so perhaps I’m being brutal, but hey- I just didn’t like it. The short rib sliders were the best item of the day served up in small potato rolls with a creamy parmesan truffle sauce that really shined through the heavy short rib.
For dessert we shared the ‘WTF’ blondie a la Mode $5. The dessert was probably the best thing about our trip here today. The blondie was perfectly salty and had that delicious taste reminiscent of graham cracker crumbs with a salted caramel drizzle served topped with ice cream. I could have eaten the whole thing by myself. So remember earlier when I mentioned that I gave my credit card to the guy that sat us? Well at the end of the meal our server dropped the check! I was thinking “WHAT THE HELL” is the point of going out of my way to give you my credit card to avoid the classic ‘fight for the bill with my mom charade’ if you don’t give it to the server and charge me!? I found this to be crazy annoying. I wish I could say that the service I experienced here other times was different, but I’d say there is opportunity for improvement as in many new businesses. I come here for the food, but today lunch simply didn’t impress. I think I’ll stick to coming here for the dinner menu from now on.
804 Ponce De Leon Blvd • Coral Gables, FL • 33134 • (305) 448-6524