Miami has a new “secret garden” – a romantic, lush oasis that doesn’t feel like Miami but a little like Hawaii. It isn’t a botanical garden but a new restaurant at 5808 NE 4th Court (just off Biscayne and 58th). Cafe Roval just might be Miami’s most unique place to dine. It is located in an original historic 1920’s coral pump house in the Morningside area. The restaurant is owned by Restauranteur Mark Soyka, owner of the News Cafe and Van Dyke Cafe (closed) and down the street from his namesake restaurant, Soyka. He was on a hiatus and this is his first restaurant in 15 years. The location is lovely. A quaint property that’s magically lush – a hidden tropical gem. The house seats about 100 people inside and about 125 outside. Weather permitting I definitely recommend sitting outside amongst the serene gardens and ponds. But the house itself is warm, rustic, with polished concrete floors, reclaimed metal, exposed wooden rafters and cathedral ceilings, oil paintings, chandeliers and vintage posters. They play beautiful soft jazz, so you can talk yet still appreciate the music.

Mark hired Chef Nuno Grullon who was formally at R House in Wynwood for three years and also at Ironside Cafe. The menu he has created is seasonal farm to table comfort food. There is even vegetables and herbs growing out back that are used in the restaurant. I wouldn’t say the food is meticulously prepared but it is solid good food. With that and the atmosphere, you will be in for a great evening. The menu is divided into chilled items, hot and specials of the day.

We started with a cheese board that includes old cheddar, blue, goat, brie, a wonderful apple chutney, green grapes, pickled figs, honeycomb and pistachios. The soup of the day was a sweet and creamy corn soup. The veal osso bucco is a lovely rendition, tender, fall off the bone veal, done in a port wine sauce, with orzo, brunoise carrots, zucchini, fennel and grana padano. My husband declared his dish to be a winner, malbec-braised short ribs with English peas, brown beech on a velvety boniato purée. I enjoyed the lamb burger with feta, apricot jam, shaved fennel, arugula and roasted garlic. The menu said it came with seasoned waffle chips but instead, and even better, they came with hand cut Yukon gold fries. They were fabulous.

The desserts were limited. A chocolate cake and a couple of crepes. Our friendly and knowledgeable server Wilson told us to go with the crepes. One is a banana Nutella that came with a mini cake cone of rich vanilla ice cream. The other crepe is a strawberry jam and creme fraiche with the same ice cream cone.

Overall the dinner did not disappoint. Nothing took my breath away but I was totally surprised at how enjoyable everything was. If I had to complain I would say the food could have come out hotter.

There are some unusual craft cocktails and the wine list had no notable selections but is adequate.

The evening was relaxed, intimate, and aesthetically appealing. Mark is really going to revive this neighborhood. They are open daily from 4pm till midnight and will soon be adding a Sunday brunch. I am sure that garden will be equally beautiful in the daytime as well. An added bonus is free self-parking in their adjacent lot.

Recommend.

Happy dining,
Shanea

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