Here's an actual conversation overheard at My Ceviche last evening:
Sam Gorenstein: Hi. Welcome to My Ceviche.
Young couple: [Perusing the menu board] Hi!
Gorenstein: Is this your first time here?
Man in couple: Yes. I know someone who works at the Raleigh, and she said that Sam Gorenstein opened a ceviche restaurant.
Woman in couple: Do you know him?
Sam Gorenstein: I am him!
That's right, friends. If you call in a take-out order at My Ceviche, it's more than likely James Beard-nominated chef Sam Gorenstein is on the other end of the line. And if you walk into the small, 240-square-foot space, you'll be greeted by the chef himself or his partner, Roger Duarte, from George Stone Crab.
There's nothing to hide in these tight quarters. A large cooler holds the stone crab claws that Duarte supplies from fishermen in Marathon. A baker's rack in the front of the store is the dry goods storage, filled with spices, lemons, and some bottles of Jarritos. Look just beyond the counter and you'll see two cooks at My Ceviche breaking down an octopus. There is no seating in the actual restaurant, but there are some tables in the adjacent hostel, and the beach is a block away.
A chat with the partners took about two hours. Yes, they were personable and engaging, but mainly it's because they were busy taking phone orders, greeting customers, and kissing regulars on the cheek. Though My Ceviche has been open only three weeks, the tiny eatery is bustling. That's partly because of the South of Fifth location, where inexpensive food is scarce, and partly because of the powerhouse duo behind the project. Mainly, however, it's because you can get beautiful seafood fresh from the ocean at reasonable prices.
The idea for My Ceviche came about from Gorenstein's fond memories of cevicherias in his native Colombia. "In Miami, we're surrounded by the sea, but there are few places to get fresh seafood at affordable prices. Roger and I really felt the need for a good ceviche restaurant on Miami Beach."
The partners agree they're onto the next big trend in food, though they're hesitant to use that term. "We feel that ceviche is what sushi was ten to 15 years ago," says Gorenstein, adding that unlike sushi, ceviche has no rice or carbs, making it a perfect dish for body-conscious Miami Beach.
Sam Gorenstein taking a phone order at My Ceviche.
When ordering ceviche ($11.75 for a medium, $14.75 for a large), you
pick the protein -- shrimp, octopus, or local fish -- and then the flavor
profile. There are six styles, including coconut (coconut
water, lime, red onions, cilantro, avocado); aji amarillo (Florida
citrus, aji amarillo, tomato, mint, red onions); and Asian (soy-citrus,
ginger, red onions, tomato, mango, cilantro). Ceviches are served with a
side of popcorn.
Aji Amarillo ceviche
Seafood tacos ($3.50) and burritos ($9.95) are
also offered in shrimp, octopus, yellowfin tuna, or catch of the
day, which might be yellow jack, triggerfish, grouper, or corvina. Stone
crabs are offered at market price, and there's a variety of salads. For dessert, there are Paulina's Pops in flavors that
range from strawberry-basil to hibiscus-berry.
My Ceviche is
open from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11:30 a.m. to midnight
Friday and Saturday. Delivery is available in Miami Beach for a $2.50 fee,
and they'll even deliver directly on the sand of the beach.
who is used to working in high-profile kitchens with 40 chefs under him,
is enjoying this new venture. As recently as yesterday, he gave up the
last ties to the world of high-pressure kitchens, announcing his
resignation from the Raleigh Hotel with this statement: "The
success and launch of My Ceviche in South Beach has demanded more of my
time than anticipated. It was a difficult decision, but I will be
leaving the Raleigh on Friday and wish the team here and the Genuine
Hospitality Group best of luck during this exciting time for the hotel."
told Short Order that he "really wants to concentrate on My Ceviche." He said working at BLT Steak and the Raleigh, though satisfying,
took its toll, both physically and mentally. He added there might come a day when "the fire to cook at that level will start
to flame again," but it's too soon to tell whether he would expand My
Ceviche or start another restaurant altogether. "I think I'll have to
let the business decide. Time will tell. We think we really have
something going here. We're working hard, but it's something we really
Grilled fish tacos at My Ceviche
Stone crabs straight from the ocean are offered at market prices.
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Octopus burritos are made Caribbean style with coconut-jasmine rice, cilantro, and pickled red onion.