Chef Niven Patel, the former Chef de Cuisine for 3 ½ years at Michael’s Genuine, has opened not one, but two restaurants in the last year, both serving Indian food. The original was in Kendall and won rave reviews. Building on this success, he has opened his second location in May 2017, in the former home of his former boss, Michael Schwartz’s Cypress Tavern location, at 3620 NE 2nd Avenue. Ghee means pure and has a symbolic meaning both spiritually and in the kitchen. Ghee Indian Kitchen is Miami’s finest Indian restaurant, elevating traditional Indian cuisine to a new level. He owns a 2 ½ acre farm called Rancho Patel in Homestead, where he grows much of the food that he serves in both his restaurants. Otherwise, he gets produce from local farmers and fishermen. The menu changes daily and will feature freshly ripened and recently picked ingredients.
The restaurant is casual, seating about 50 inside and another 20 outside. He has a few Indian knickknacks throughout the room. The bar displays shelves of numerous bottles of Indian spices, plus on display at the open kitchen, you will see containers full of sauces and spices that the kitchen uses nightly. Chef Patels’ wife Shivani worked the front of the house. And my favourite server Natalie, from Pinch Kitchen was taking excellent care of us. The chef de cuisine is the talented Pushkar Marathe.
The menu is divided into snacks, grill, basmati rice, curries, vegetables and breads. I recommend going with a larger group so you can try many dishes, or you can do a three-course tasting menu at $55 per person. We tried the charred ribs that are fall-off-the-bone delicious with an amazing cranberry chutney on top. I am embarrassed to say I licked my fingers clean. The turkey kofta, with turkey meatballs in a spinach sauce, dotted with cranberries, is a good choice if you want something mild. The kitchen will not alter the spice and will not do anything mild for you when asked, so beware and ask about spice levels. We also had some okra in a cucumber and curry sauce. The last two dishes were perfect with the amazing naan bread to lap up the sauce with. We also tried a buttery white truffle paratha bread. Our rice dish was a brown basmati rice and quinoa with cinnamon, cashews and lentils. I didn’t taste the cinnamon, but I did taste an excess of salt.
For dessert, we had a sticky toffee pudding topped with a lovely artisanal, ginger ice cream, made by Sweet Melody Ice Cream. We washed this down with a non-alcoholic drink of lemongrass and citrus with soda. There was a nice selection of these handcrafted sodas as well as wine, beer and cocktails. There are so many other dishes that I wanted to try so we will just have to make a return trip. The chef’s food is lighter and veggie-forward, and not based on the rich, buttery and deep fried food that I had when I was in India. The focus is on strong, bright flavors and farm fresh foods. Chef Patel is bringing something fresh and unique to the Design District. Recommended.