In a few weeks, Andreas Schreiner, Jose Mendin, and Sergio Navarra will open Pubbelly right around the corner from Purdy Lounge, on sleepy 20th Street, It's a space with sky-high ceilings and exposed brick, more reminiscent of Chelsea in New York than South Beach. They instantaneously knew this was going to be the home of their new venture.
Three guys, buckets of fine dining experience, and Puerto Rican to boot? Andreas, Jose, and Sergio are part of Miami's new guard of chefs and operators. All in their early 30s, they have worked for the best chefs in town and collectively possess experience from Four Seasons Hotel, Casa Tua, La Broche, Sushi Samba, and Mercadito. Los tres amigos also enjoy three different degrees of Puerto Rican-ness; Jose is, Andreas is Austro-Colombian by heritage yet born and raised on the island, and Sergio is married to one. They plan to integrate their multi-cultural background into their approach to food and bring something new and exciting to the Miami dining scene.
Why Pubbelly and why a gastropub? In reality, it's about three guys completing the self-fulfilling prophecy of the "American Dream" and how they plan on taking what they know, what they love and dish it out to Miami locals.
New Times: What was your inspiration for Pubbelly? How did you come together and decide to open this place?
Andreas: I wanted to open a restaurant for a long time, as did Jose and ;Sergio. While I was in Chicago, I was exposed more and more to the gastropub concept in the Chicago food scene and decided that it really fell into what I want to do. I reconnected with Jose and& Sergio, and they brought up the idea to do an Asian-influenced gastropub. I thought it was a fantastic idea considering all of the knowledge they have.
What were your favorites in the past?
Andreas: Bristol, Publican, Avec.
Jose: Gilt Bar, Avec, Purple Pig, Momofuku in New York, all places where you can eat really good food, it's casual and not really expensive.
What was the impetus to go from fine dining to something more casual?
Jose: After working in those places for such a long time, you end up wanting to do something more casual. It's great once a week, but we want to do something for people to come in and eat three times a week.
Andreas: We are adamant about proving that we can give great food at a great price. We are not interested in gouging people.
Jose: ...and that is where the gastropub concept comes into play because historically, the English pub was the neighborhood place.
So the emphasis is going to predominantly Asian?
Jose: There is going to be lots of Asian, some Spanish and of course lots of ties to Puerto Rico because all of us have very close ties to the island;but don't call it fusion. I've been working with Asian ingredients for a long time, but you need to know how to use them; they can't be confusing. It's about how can we make the ingredient taste really great, keep it true to what it is, and we also want to bring our backgrounds to the table. We're not adding mango and papaya all over the place.
Are you going the whole sustainable/local/organic route? How does that play into your equation?
Jose: Some of it will be and some of it will be normal. I don't want to say we are going to be 100 percent sustainable because the ideal goal is to give a great meal at a decent price and many of those ingredients can be too expensive. We definitely will have some items, but not all. We will support the farmers when possible, but if we can't, you're still going to have a great meal.
What are going to be your specialties?
Jose: Lots of pig and pork belly.; Being Puertorrican and eating lechón all my life, I love it. Pork belly rillettes [a traditional French-style paté], pork belly ramen, pork belly dumplings, pork belly fried rice. But there is still going be some light and fresh items like tiraditos and ceviches [P.S.: There is a raw bar they rigged on their own ready for all kinds of raw goodies.] I don't want people to get scared because of the name; there will be some great alternatives for everyone. [Menu at a glance: there are plenty vegetarians selections too, quelle surprise?]
Are you going to do any offal?
Jose: Not to start with, but soon, we've been experimenting with all kinds of ideas.
Andreas: We all grew up eating mondongo [Spanish for tripe], so we like it. We are definitely going to play with it.
So, you are going to walk before you run...
[Every one giggles]
Andreas: You can say that.
So what's happening on the beverage side?
Andreas: Beer, wine, sake... Beers from all over the place Belgium, Austrian, Germany, cool domestic craft beers, a focus old world varietals in our by the glass selection; sake infused cocktails...all kinds of choices that will go with the cuisine.
Are you concerned with the influx of all of these Asian eateries that have recently popped up?
Jose: We are not concerned at all, if anything it's really good. We are going to be different from other places, it's going to be fun, we have a unique space and feel; we like it and we wish everyone else the best.
Describe Pubbelly in five words.
Andreas and Jose: Chef-driven, tavern, eclectic, fun, unique. We definitely want it to be fun
That sounds great! The five words you mentioned had nothing to do with a theme or being Asian or the 'it' spot...
Andreas: It's about three guys following their dreams.
Jose: Look at it! There is a Playstation at the bar, we're going to have soccer games on Sundays, we want to do all kinds of things. At the end, we want it to be us.