Last year I reported that Mamey was my best meal in Miami of 2020/2021. This year Chef Niven Patel, one of Miami’s top chefs and James Beard award nominee (as well as one of my personal favourite chefs), has opened a second restaurant called Orno serving New American wood-fired dishes that are chef-driven and ingredient-focused. It’s also located in the Thesis Hotel at 1350 S Dixie Highway in Coral Gables, right next to Mamey.
Chef Niven’s cuisine is centered around locally sourced vegetables, most of which he grows on his own farm, Rancho Patel, in Homestead, Florida. So at Orno, you are literally eating farm to table.
Designed by the Saldino Group, this big, upscale eatery is a visual joy. It features a large, modern dining room with high ceilings and lots of light coming in from the attractive floor-to-ceiling windows on either side. There is an abundance of greenery throughout the main space, and the colour scheme is done in calming earthy tones. There are large pendant lights hanging from above and the mint green wood-burning oven is the focal point of the room, which is adjacent to grill and market set up, at night, the lighting is dimmed and the oven glows. We were lucky to be seated in a cozy room off the main dining room called, “The Library“. It is a lot more private and quieter than the main space while still having unique design features like a great selection of books, a neon art piece that says, “knowledge is the food of the soul”, and large arched windows that look out into the hotel’s courtyard and a beautiful Jaume Plensa sculpture.
“Orno”, comes from the Spanish word that means, “oven”, and a majority of the food here is prepared in the wood-burning oven or on the Jasper Grill. There are a large number of small plates that are great for sharing family style. We selected the 20 month-aged Serrano ham, accompanied with marinated eggplant, quince, and a homemade extra thin rosemary lavash cracker. The roasted bone marrow is a standout, with red wine braised shallots, horseradish gremolata and orange segments. We also tried a thin crust chanterelle mushroom pizza with a taleggio fondue, shallots, and thyme. There were 16 items in this section alone, and it makes me eager to drive back so I can try them all. In the large format section there are 6 choices ranging from fish, chops, pork, chicken to steaks. We opted for the luscious Australian lamb chops in a deleteriously delicious sauce of Medjool dates, Banyuls vinegar, and coriander. We also relished the Alaskan Halibut – the aromatic sauce is made with marcona almond romesco sauce and cured oranges and is divine. There are a number of vegetable options to choose from as well.
The wine cellar had over 400 bottle selection, but we opted to go with some cocktails that were named after literary classics or authors, which seemed fitting to order since we were dining in the library. Mine was called Holly Golightly, and made with Bouvery-Ladubay Crémant de Loire Brut. For the gin and tonic, they use Q tonic water, which was a nice choice for the Nikka (Japanese) Coffey gin, with cucumber and mint.
Dessert here is not an afterthought. We couldn’t decide between two of them so we went with both of our choices, which were excellent – a perfect panna cotta with pomegranate granita, and a chocolate soufflé tart, with toffee bits, and a cookie tart base, served with a side of homemade peanut butter ice cream.
I am convinced that Chef Niven can cook anything and make it taste superb. He is not afraid to cook with big, bold multidimensional flavours. Besides his homegrown vegetables, he uses quality meats, and sustainably caught fish and seafood, with most of the ingredients roasted or grilled before it hits the table.
The menu is printed daily for small tweaks. The kitchen is helmed by Josh Elliott, the chef de cuisine.
Another one for my hit list.