Shanea Savours: Mignonette Uptown
Daniel Serfer brings his recipe for great, unpretentious seafood to North Miami
The latest venture from Chef Daniel Serfer, the man behind Blue Collar restaurant, and the first Mignonette, has just opened Mignonette Uptown. It’s a boon to the area, drawing patrons from North Miami, including –Surfside, Bal Harbour, Bay Harbour, Sunny Isles, Aventura and Hallandale and Hollywood. For people from all these neighborhoods it’s a relief to not have to always drive to South Beach, the Design District, Wynwood or Brickell to get a decent meal.
Serfer’s restaurants are no frills, no attitude type of comfort food with a nostalgic vibe. His new spot is no exception, opening in the former iconic Gourmet Diner spot. He kept the integrity of the former diner but spruced it up beautifully. The 80 seat space has all new leather upholstery, fixtures and lighting. It looks great. It still has ample free parking, which is such a rarity in Miami.
Even though it was a quiet opening, people have found their way here quickly. The reason is simple – its fresh seafood and oyster bar. There is a vast array of options for seafood lovers in a fun, approachable environment. The Chef de Cuisine is Anthony Ciancio. He cooked previously at some pretty good restaurants including Alter, Michael’s Genuine and 27. Much of the menu is the same as the original Mignonette with a few welcome additions. I love the new Buffalo scallops with Gorgonzola, pieces of crispy chicken skin in a hot sauce. What a clever and original idea. The BBQ octopus is tender and delicious.
There are a lot of classic choices like oysters Rockefeller, clams casino, shrimp cocktail, mussels and crab cakes. There’s also a great rotating selection of East and West coast oysters. The daily crudo is prepared with chilies, salt, citrus and evoo. There are salads, the daily whole fish, and lobster. You can get a roll, lobster tails or a whole Maine Lobster. We tried the lobster roll, which is different from Luke’s. Here they serve the lobster warm instead of cold, on a large brioche bun. It had no fillers and provided a large portion of lobster. It was great although I still prefer the bun and special seasoning at Luke’s.
The menu also offers three types of caviar served with accouterments. Instead, we opted for the “fancy” seafood tower, which is chock full of all your favorites – snow crab claws, shrimp cocktail, crab cocktail, twelve oysters, six clams, 1/2 Maine lobster and 1/2 lb of sweet king crab legs. It feeds two very hungry people for a main course, I am sure 3-4 could enjoy this as an appetizer. The tower had us doing a happy dance. It comes with a variety of sauces. On another visit, I devoured the luscious, creamy lobster bisque. There are specials listed on a board above the kitchen.
One thing that Chef Daniel is always strong on is vegetables. Here he also has a vast selection. They are $6 each or a plate of 4 for $19. The charred sweet potatoes with chili and herb butter are delicious. I also enjoyed the baked squash.
As at the original Mignonette, the entree section has main courses listed under “plain” or “fancy”. The plain dishes such as scallops, fishes, and chicken are served in a buerre blanc. On the “fancy” side, the fish and one meat entree – the dry aged bone in NY strip – are served with various sauces and spices.
There is a large selection of beers and some reasonably priced wines, though none were a highlight for me.
The dessert options were okay. They offered five choices, which sounded better than they tasted. The butterscotch Heath bar bread pudding was overly sweet and the buttermilk pound cake with coconut and dulce de leche was a touch dry but the cream cheese frosting kind of made up for that. One dessert that I did enjoy was the pie special. It happened to be lemon meringue – the filling, as well as the crust was on point.
The staff is very friendly, though there was some service issues. I am not worried, I went on the third night they were opened and feel confident they will work out the kinks.
I am always excited about the birth of a new restaurant, especially under the capable hands of Chef Serfer. Yes, it is no frills, but it is straightforward, simple, quality seafood in a comfortable and laid back atmosphere.