Pastry chefs don't get enough attention or credit, unless of course they are Hedy Goldsmith (we miss you) or Antonio Bachour. Don't let any chef of savory food tell you differently — desserts can be the most important part of any meal. There's something special about ending a feast with a spoonful (or more) of sugar. Sean Brasel, executive chef and co-owner of Meat Market agrees, which is why he's brought Keith Wallace on board as pastry chef.
You might know Wallace from his most recent role as pastry chef of the Four Seasons Hotel in Miami, where he delighted brunch-goers at Edge Steak & Bar with his dessert station and striking wedding cakes. Still, the Bachour-trained sweets maven wanted to take his talents to South Beach. "I was looking more at being on the beach," says Wallace. "And Meat Market just doesn't compare to any of the other menus around here. There's an emphasis on citrus and hot and cold and local ingredients."
Though Brickell and South Beach are certainly different, if there's something Wallace knows how to cater to is the steak house clientele. "The way I look at it is how great would it be to end the course of the steak with something completely unexpected." To see how Wallace works, New Times sat in on a dessert tasting where he gave Brasel and the operating team at Meat Market an overview of his creations.
"When coming up with new desserts I always think of my favorite foods to eat in front of a television." Of course, anyone and everyone will agree that peanut butter is one of those things you can easily take a whole jar down of whilst watching Game of Thrones. So to honor the PB&J, Wallace has concocted a respective PBJ crunch bar. You have a crunchy peanut butter mousse bar offset with velvety and tart raspberry sorbet and foam. Chocolate décor adds the finishing touch to this revamped classic from your youth.
Desserts will be inspired and change with the seasons, Wallace assures us. Since we're currently at the peak of mango season (and Wallace is the proud father to three mango trees), he's been trucking the tropical fruit to Meat Market daily and putting it to good use. Exhibit A: The cheesecake. Or in this case mango cheesecake with blueberry lime sorbet, passion fruit gel, tropical salsa, citrus, and citrus glass. If you taste banana mangos it's because they're in here and work beautifully well. "If there's one dessert every steakhouse needs it's a cheesecake."
Every steakhouse should also have its own version of another childhood favorite, the s'more. "S'mores are something I could eat in front of a television at 3 a.m. and then dream about it." This grownup version consists of a molten chocolate cake topped with toasted house-made marshmallows, graham cracker cookie ice cream, and brandy caramel sauce. If you want decadence, this is it.
"Something else we want to bring back is ice cream cookie sandwiches," says Brasel. "With a unique twist of course."
The new and reinvented sampler includes a bit of everything. From the stationary citrus brûlée and chocolate brownie with dulce de leche, to the daily fruit pave, sorbet, and petit four, which change according to whatever is available. During our visit it was blood orange sorbet, watermelon pave, and guava petit four.
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While we didn’t get to try the baked Alaska, we're particularly excited that someone is finally offering the part-ice cream, part-cake, and all parts topped with meringue treat in town. Meat Market's rendition includes — you guessed it — mango ice cream at the center, chocolate cake around the edges, and French meringue as the cherry on top. It's flambéed table-side with Grand Marnier for a big finish. "The flavors will change, but we think this is going to be a staple," says Brasel. "I love baked Alaskas."