Chef Ludek Munzar, who hails from the Czech Republic, is creating modern European dishes in an unusual way and exposing Miami to flavors injected with the very essence of the ingredients he uses, with a touch of molecular cuisine. Ludek’s primary focus is seeking only the freshest products while perfecting his dish creations, leaving his guests with an exhilarating experience.
By Brenda Benoit
Entering the Miami Beach Caffé is like walking into a chamber of light: all white chairs, walls and floors accentuated by red carpet here and there; big windows letting even more light in. Teardrop crystal ceiling ornaments, add a touch of shimmer to the locale. The 1,800 square foot dining room boasts seating arrangements for up to 70, while sidewalk seating fit 40 diners and offers the perfect backdrop to enjoy the restaurant’s live jazz, available on the weekends.
We were welcomed by Tomas Johanovsky, co-owner of the Ambiente Restaurant Group in Prague. Johanovsky found his passion for the restaurant business at the age of 15 when he entered the industry as a waiter. He decided to open yet another restaurant in Miami Beach and with an enthusiastic smile on his face recommended his favorite items on the menu.
For starters, the Insalata Caprese – fresh buffalo mozzarella, basil, tomato tartar served with a mix of sprouts and a red balsamic vinegar reduction. This was a de-constructed version of a Caprese Salad, each element intensified and enhanced. The tomato confit was full of flavor and liveliness; the mozzarella soft, spongy and covered in a drizzle of basil foam. Oh, the basil foam: it was like eating basil in a puff of air with all the intensity of a leaf of basil freshly plucked from the plant.
My dining companion, Miss E., had the Ahi Tuna Tartar which was served on mango purée with crispy herb wonton and a wasabi biscuit. She liked it. I had a bite and it was fresh, savory, full of the clean taste of tuna.
The Pork Belly Confit was served with grilled pork tenderloin on mashed potatoes and sautéed spinach so it was quite a pork fest. The dish was simple and honest; the pork belly juicy and perfectly prepared. The pork tenderloin on the other hand, was a bit dry and the spinach a little over-salted.
The special of the day was Sea Bass with Couscous and Olives. The texture of the sea bass was firm yet flaky and the ensemble of flavors, wholesome and pretty to behold.
My main dish was the Braised Beef Cheeks, they were cooked in red wine and served with a purple cauliflower purée. This plate delivered a unique experience, almost magical. The beef cheeks were the epitome of deliciousness: soft, silky, succulent with a flavor so rich and intense that I thought I was in beef nirvana. The cauliflower purée, the perfect companion for this food marriage made in heaven. I said to Miss E. that I would like this to be the last thing I eat before I die, if I had a choice and the time. It was quite a gastronomic moment: I fell in love with beef cheeks.
Ice cream is something that most everyone loves. Homemade Ice Cream here was not like others though, the presentation was dramatic and smoky because it was prepared with liquid nitrogen. It was quite a show as the chef made it tableside and watching this was just plain fun. The Strawberry Soupwas another surprise, served with a blini in the middle with the essence of strawberry just shining through.
The white bar lined with high-top bar stools offers a selection of imaginative cocktails with a European twist. Miami Beach Caffé & Restaurant offers familiar dishes with a gourmet twist that are both diverse and accessible. The service was friendly and attentive; they are most certainly worth a visit.
Miami Beach Caffé & Restaurant
1412 Ocean Drive
Brenda Benoit was born in the city of St. George’s in Grenada and grew up in Caracas, Venezuela. She has been living in Miami for over 20 years, loves to cook, eat and to try new restaurants & cuisines - always with her camera as a companion. She's a dedicated cookbook collector and is in the process of writing one of her own.