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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Brunching at Michael's Genuine

     Somewhere between breakfast and lunch lies a wonderful marriage of a meal that manages to combine the two.  Yes that's right brunch, I'm talking to you!  A completely brilliant invention, weekend brunch allows you to really make the most of those lazy Sunday mornings.  Irrespective of your activities the evening before, I love the idea of being able to roll around in bed and slowly take your time getting dressed, without concern about needing to be in the office by 8 or 9am.  As a grad student, we are taught that weekends don't exist, an elusive myth quite like unicorns, yet I still appreciate the excuse for breaking from my labwork (or filling up before I have to head in) for a tasty repast. In homage to my favorite meal of the week, I decided it was time for a post on one of the best brunch spots in the city, Michael's Genuine. 
    Since they started offering brunch I've seen a slew of changes and rotating options.  The plates seem to have gotten slightly stingier, but I guarantee they are no less delicious.  While there are a couple of standard items you can typically find, other selections will vary on a weekly basis.  Accordingly, you could potentially hit up Michael's pretty regularly and still manage to try quite a few new things. 
   Brunch begins at a leisurely 11, which is the best time to arrive if you haven't made reservations already (which I strongly recommend).  The outside courtyard is lovely, with large trees and a relaxed atmosphere.  While it is open-air style, the tables have large umbrellas if it starts to drizzle.
Inside is a bit cozier, with lots of windows opening to the courtyard, dark furniture, and red hanging lanterns setting the scene for a comfortable meal.
If you did not plan ahead, don't fret, typically there are some first come first serve seats at the bar, although this will not work if you've got a larger party.
Clockwise from top: Monkey bread,
cheesecake (I think peach), onion dip, and kimchee benedict
     Michael's brunch works kind of family-style, meaning the best way to make the most of the experience is to share a couple of dishes.  They do tend to fill you up surprisingly quickly, so be careful not to go overboard at the beginning (they'll let you keep a menu anyways so you can order throughout the meal if you're still hungry).  Don't be discouraged into thinking that because of all the hype you'll end up spending a fortune.  Depending on how many people are in the group, you can sometimes get away relatively cheaply.  Without alcoholic drinks I've managed to keep costs down to as little as $12 a person for a party of 3, and we still all left incredibly satiated and satisfied.
Watermelon Juice
     If you are craving something alcoholic, be warned the drinks can add up fast.  However, they are incredibly delightful.  My personal favorite is the Cabarete which is made with aperol, st. germain, champagne, soda water, and fresh watermelon juice.  It a vast improvement over your banal mimosa!  I'm also pretty partial to the Sonny Rollins, which includes basil, hayden bourbon, lavender/green/black teas, orange blossom honey, soda, orange bitters, lemon, and crushed ice.  I've never had anything quite like it, and the combination of flavors is positively stellar.  I was also pleasantly surprised by their non-alcoholic watermelon juice, which was far less cloying than I would have expected, and proved to be utterly refreshing.
    The menu is divided up into savory, sweets, breads, eggs and things, meats, and snacks.  There are a couple of options that regularly seem to appear on the menu, so I'll start with those.   Among the savory selections, one of my absolute must-haves is the kimchi benedict.  Even the most staunch opponent of this dish has been pleasantly surprised when we've ordered it.  It might not much size wise, but it packs some serious flavor, and I've found the best way to enjoy it is to try to make sure each bite you take has equal amounts of everything...pork belly, english muffin, kimchi, poached pns farm egg, and hollandaise.  Together it's the perfect zesty and tangy punch of scrumptious flavors.  When sharing, this is the one I always cross my fingers for and hope that my portion will be the slightly larger piece!
Kimchi Benedict
Next up, it's a bit tricky to share, but the Wood Oven Roasted Double Yolk Egg is a cheesy, melty cup of goodness.  The eggs are just a bit runny inside, there are a couple of fresh roasted tomato bits, and the bubbling cave aged gruyere on top tastes every bit as appealing as it smells (and you can smell it two tables away).  The little piece of crusty sourdough crostini it's served with goes fairly quickly, so I'd recommend getting one their homemade rosemary crumpets for a mere $2, which are the perfect chewy companion to soak up all the deliciousness.  Even if you don't order this dish I'd recommend getting the crumpets which are one of the few breads they make there, and they are superb.
Wood Oven Roasted Double Yolk Egg
   Another enjoyable and filling, yet inexpensive, option is the pan fried onion dip with thick cut potato chips.  It comes out pretty quickly when you've hungry and the creamy dip is loaded with strings of caramelized onions.  Absolutely delectable!  In addition, if bacon is typically a must for you in the morning, I'd recommend branching out and ordering the pig ear salad.  It might sound a bit odd, but it is flavorful and has a nice crisp to it!  The breakfast pizza made with house smoked bacon, pns farm egg, monterey jack, and scallions is another popular choice, although personally I'm not the biggest fan (mostly through my own prejudice against any crust that reminds me of matzah).  My guy friends dig it though as they claim "the bacon and egg makes it a morning food," and that it is "far more socially acceptable than eating leftover slices from two nights ago."
Breakfast Pizza
      As for the sweets, you can't go wrong with any of Hedy's treats, but some have definitely enticed me more than others.  I was pleasantly surprised by the 9 grain pancake, a thick and hearty serving with some serious seed crunch.  I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that I stayed away from ordering this initially, simply under the misapprehension that "pancakes are generic and all taste about the same no matter where you go."  That being said, whatever magic she uses, I would never be able to make anything quite like it, and I love that they serve it with real maple syrup.  It has since become one of my compulsory ordering options.
Wood Oven Baked 9 Grain Pancake
    Another light choice is the lemon ricotta pancakes, which are are teensy, fluffy disks, accompanied by a fruit compote of some sort.  The type of the compote will vary by visit (from strawberry to blueberry to tangerine), but whichever option is available, it provides a nice contrast for the tartness of the lemon.  Most of the desserts do tend to rotate flavors and fillings regularly, although on the menu, there is usually always French toast, doughnuts, sticky buns, cakes, cupcakes, or pop-tarts of some kind.  While I've never been much of a pop-tart fan, even I can't deny the flaky crust stuffed with an array of fillings (Yuzu anyone?).  An example of their variety includes the French toast which has been everything from chai tea French toast with candied kumquats, to Almond French Toast with pear, to a coconut rum French toast.  If they have the lemon (or whichever flavor) pot de creme available, it is a unique and enchanting choice.  There is also frequently a section listed as "Hedy's childhood treats." Originally, you were forced to order a whole platter of snacks, even if you wanted only one kind, but they now allow you to select each as individual menu items.  Under this section you can find reinvented versions of everything from nutter butters, to oreos, to fig newtons.
   The food is fresh and inventive, and the atmosphere is a sublime combination of lively and laid back.  So come, relax, and enjoy, cause their brunch really is worth the hype!
     Michael's Genuine Food and Drink
     130 Northeast 40th Street
     Miami, FL 33137
     (305) 573-5550
Michael's Genuine Food & Drink on Urbanspoon


xavier said...

After living in NYC and enjoying the Sunday buffet lifestyle, I did not know of any here in Miami (granted I am only back 2 weeks) but this is definitely a place I will check out, as you are right, on a Sunday, with the times on the bedside, crawling out is a chore...but with a great option for food, that is a whole different story. Thank you for sharing.

SteffiJill said...

Welcome back to Miami! There's definitely a couple of great brunch spots here now, among which Michael's and Tudor House are my favorites. Sustain is another great place too, and they recently added a brunch menu!