I have my friend Fenwick to thank for recommending I try a new spot at 17070 West Dixie Highway in North Miami.
I am often asked for suggestions for not-so-fine dining, reasonably priced neighborhood restaurants that also serve great good.
I think the newly opened Lettuce and Tomato Gourmet Gastrobar fits the bill.
It’s a strange name, and I forgot to ask Owner and Chef, Roy Starobinsky, why he chose it. I was expecting a sandwich place or a Miami Juice kind of establishment. Instead, I found a small, charming and casual place with an eclectic menu serving really delicious food. The owners are Argentinian, and they are passionate about what they do.
They opened a smaller place close by and we’re open there for about twelve months. Now they have moved to their new and larger spot and have been here for two months, located in a strip mall space on West Dixie Highway. It is not the most beautiful part of town, but it is definitely worth the drive there, and who knows this restaurant could eventually change the landscape of the area. Remember when Michelle Bernstein opened Michy’s on Biscayne in a real seedy part of town? It became a destination restaurant, and soon other places flocked to the area.
Roy works with simple ingredients and transforms them into complex layers of flavours. He works with suppliers who provide the freshest and highest quality of products. The Chef has travelled abroad to some of the worlds best restaurants and it has inspired and ignited his creativity.
We started dinner out with a sake mojito with lime, simple syrup and club soda which was very good but a touch too sweet. On the other hand, I thought the red sangria was fabulous. The bar serves wines, cocktails, fresh juices and a large selection of craft beers.
The menu is divided into bites, salads, eggs and fries, buns, tostas, vegetables, burgers and steak and fish. Being there were only two of us we couldn’t try something from every category but we did try as many things as humanely possible.
To start, we had the truffle tuna bites, which were six mini toasts with minced tuna, aji amarillo aioli and guacamole. They were a hit and we were off to a good start. They were also a bargain at $13. Next up we tried the salmon tartare, in an Asian dressing, which was accompanied with freshly grilled garlicky finger toasts. This was another hit. From the bun section we tried two things, the seared sea scallops with guacamole, arugula and slaw in a soft steamed bun. Our favourite was the braised short rib with aji aioli slaw, arugula and pickled onion. There are seven buns in this section, and next time I want to try the panko-crusted salmon bun and the braised pork belly. There are three to an order and the buns are only $13. One standout dish was the creamy quinoa with a manchego mushroom confit. This dish was sinfully luscious … damn the calories! The au jus burger with house cheddar, caramelized onions, and truffled mayo, was a huge burger, very tasty, but I wasn’t blown away. There are four types of burgers on the menu, the other three being lamb, salmon and veggie. The house coleslaw changes every day, and ours had a nice kick to it. The crispy fries are also a real crowd pleaser. For dessert, we tried Roy’s mother’s dulce de leche – it was rich, indulgent and fabulous.
We ate like kings and the bill came to $116. I found the portions to be generous and the food moderately priced. You really get good value here, and realistically you wouldn’t have ordered as much as me. Two dishes each would be adequate, but see what I have to do for my readers … pig out.
This place is a hidden gem with lots of heart and “crafted with love”.
They are open for dinner six nights a week and for lunch 5 days.