One of Florida’s best and most talented chefs, Niven Patel has opened Mamey, a new eatery at the THēsis Hotel at 1350 S Dixie Hwy in Coral Gables. It takes a lot to get me to drive down to Coral Gables, especially during rush hour – it’s about an hour or more in heavy traffic. But, when I heard it was Chef Niven Patel, I knew it would be worth the effort and I was not wrong.
Located on the main floor of this new hotel, you will be impressed by the gorgeous decor and tropical oasis feel. A dimly lit dining room with lots of plants, flower motifs on a large mural, black and white striped wood flooring, and high ceilings where upside-down basket lights hang. A beautiful bar divides the lounge from the dining room and has lots of windows to gaze outside. There is also a nice size outdoor courtyard that is covered but opens on both ends, which is perfect in inclement weather and these social distancing times. You can tell that no expense was spared on decor.
If you know anything about Chef Patel from his Ghee Indian Restaurant, than you know he has received lots of praise, awards, and nominations for his cooking ability. He originally worked for famed chef, Michael Schwartz but in my humble opinion has far surpassed his master in talent and ability. His food is always top-notch, and his Indian food is better than anything I had on my travels throughout India. His dishes are ambitious, aromatic, and creative. At Mamey, he has created an island minded concept inspired by his travels to the Caribbean, Asia, and Polynesia. He still uses exotic and tropical flavours, spices, ingredients, and unforgettable combinations in his dishes. He sources many of his ingredients from his farm in Homestead. His sauces are detailed, complicated and a perfect interplay of textures and flavours.
We started with some fun craft cocktails. My choice was particularly delicious and refreshing. It was called holy lychee, and it consisted of Ketel One vodka, cocchi americano, lychee, basil, lemon, and soda.
The menu is divided into small bites, fresh and light, and large plates. Items are marked dairy-free, gluten-free, vegetarian, or vegan where applicable.
The coconut shrimp with a side of spicy pineapple sauce, with habanero, is a great first dish to begin the evening. We moved on to Jamaican short rib empanadas, which were enhanced by a roasted garlic chili sauce. Glazed lamb chops followed, with local honey and pickled apples, a winning combination. A memorable dish was the white truffle and Brie grilled cheese, with Florida mango jam from the chef’s farm, made on toasted Sullivan Street Pullman bread.
From the large plate section, I had what just may be my favourite dish of 2021. A lemongrass glazed local grouper, adorned with bok choy, heirloom carrots, and jasmine rice done in a Thai curry. That plate has so many mouthwatering and succulent flavours, it was definitely a notable highlight.
Dessert had three choices, a rum cake, churros with a hot chocolate sauce, and a key lime flan. Although they all sounded great, we went with the latter two and were not disappointed.
Besides cocktails, there is a nice mix of new world wines, and interesting beer and draft beer selections.
Our server Ariel was fantastic. He knew the ingredients and preparation of each dish. He changed dishes and silverware after each course, A+, and the table was continually cleaned, A+.
Chef Patel uses whatever is available on his farm and switches up his dishes. He is one of South Florida’s most important and trail-blazing chefs. Everything he does is with an authentic and organic approach. His dedication to sustainability and mindful sourcing, using the region’s rich bounty, has helped define his career and style.
It is open for lunch and dinner. There is also an attractive 3rd-floor rooftop deck where you can grab a drink and some small plates.
Dinner was vibrant, bursting with flavour, and had my taste buds dancing.