SUSTAIN Restaurant + Bar

Sustain, in Midtown Miami, opens its doors in December 2011. Another new kid on the block, it rivals against the much-loved Sugarcane Raw Bar and Grill next door. But here, the concept of the restaurant is: sustainable, seasonal, and simple. The focus on sustainability is supposed to encompass both the food and the physical space.

When you call your place Sustain, you better be serious about it. And this restaurant was literally built from the ground up with sustainability in mind. Fixtures on the ceiling are made from recycled aluminum. A captivating wooden “ribcage” sculpture along one wall is crafted from sustainable mangrove. The tables and chairs are reclaimed cypress, the fabrics are LEED-approved, the lights are energy-conserving LEDs.
The menu is equally “green”: Much of the produce comes from local farms, cheeses come from local producers, fish come mostly from local waters, meats are from stock that are pasture-raised on Florida ranches. They are willing to sacrifice revenue to virtue: it’s one of the few restaurants in America that won’t serve bottled water. But they do have a lot of other bottles…at the bar. But these are biodynamic wines and small-batch liquors. Even the décor consists mostly of recycled items, including the salvaged cypress that was used for the tabletops. 
Chilean wine, beautiful Cabernet Sauvignon
3 guys run the joint: Owner/operator Brian Goldberg, Managing Partner Brian Lazar and Executive Chef Alejandro Piñero – Miami natives. The Chef previously worked under Michelle Bernstein at The Strand, served as sous chef at Casa Tua, and chef de cuisine a tFratelli Lyon.; Piñero wants to incorporate as many regionally sourced ingredients as he can, including produce from North and West Florida. Paradise Farms, Seriously Organic, Teena’s Pride, and PT Fish are some of the sources he mentioned he’ll be working with. But Piñero wasn’t always a Chef, he studied microbiology at the University of Florida first. That’s why I like him so much, a late-bloomer. 

I arrived at Sustain with mixed expectations. The chef works almost exclusively with ingredients produced within a 50-mile radius. A 50-mile radius of Miami? That’s not a lot of variety. But then again, if it’s good, the food would be incredible. Luckily, I was amazed the whole way through. 

The menu starts with several “bites” priced at $4-6, and they are all worth sampling. The pretzel bites, little tater-tot sized nuggets, are pleasingly warm, crusty, and chewy, and come with ramekins of whole grain mustard and honey for dipping (best in combination, if you ask me). The pan-fried foie gras is definitely worth a try. In the appetizer section, you can reconstruct much of a cow and a pig along the way.

“Hudson Valley” Foie gras with Vanilla-braised Pineapple and Challah Toast

Some of those bits also wind up in a charcuterie plate. The plate features pork rilletes (shoulder and belly meat cooked in its own fat and shredded to a fine paste), head cheese – not a cheese but a terrine or meat jelly made with flesh from the head of pig (sometimes also sheep or cow), and often set in aspic, a country pâté wrapped, thinly sliced country ham, cured cow tongue, pickled vegetable, mustard and grilled ciabatta. So far, the best I’ve had in Miami, for a few reasons: unfatty; spiced; and they’re not served too cold. 

To continue…

Whole Roasted Fish with wood roasted vegetable

I wasn’t a big fan of the fish since it was a bottom-dweller and didn’t have as much flavor as a sea bass would but was well cooked and the meat moist. 

Wood roasted vegetables included brussel sprouts, onion and fennel

With a side of Kale

‘Green Range Farms’ Ribeye with roasted potatoes, tomato marmalade and roasted bone marrow [for an extra fee of 10$]

A close-up

The whole dish could have been presented better and I could have asked for more bone marrow but together it was perfectly cooked, moist, juicy and with great flavor.

The “green wave” trend is definitely noticeable now in Miami. Following Michael’s Genuine, a few local restaurants have really seriously emulated that farm-to-table model. Still a work in progress but so far there are a lot of hidden gems, including the restaurant itself.

SUSTAIN Restaurant + Bar

Address: 3252 NE 1st Ave, #107,  Miami, FL 33137

Tel: (305) 424-9079

Website: http://www.sustainmiami.com/

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