Next to the Forge's recent reopening, everyone in Miami is buzzing about the debut of Norman's 180. This Coral Gables eatery marks the return of famed chef Norman Van Aken to the culinary scene. His Norman's restaurant was a Miami mainstay until it closed three years ago. (There is another location at the Ritz-Carlton in Orlando that is alive and well.) Norman's 180, which is set in the Colonnade Hotel, is a more casual take on his original concept, where the Mango King took Floribbean cooking to a gourmet level.
According to partner Kim Wood, the food will be simpler and cleaner at Norman's 180, with less emphasis on embellishment. "It's not a deviation from Norman's food," Wood explains. "It's a change in terms of volume and energy. It's a more casual dining experience than before." Think tapas-style plates, as Norman reinvents street food. There's also a focus on comfort foods, which are both filling and fun.
Short Order received an exclusive sneak peek at the new menu. Here are some of the dishes: steamed Manila clams with kabocha pot stickers, speckled soy butter, and melon; ceviche of Gulf shrimp and octopus with grilled pineapple; pho bo with noodles, beef ribs, and herbs; striped bass with black-eyed peas, surrey sausage, and cider creamed tomatoes; fried chicken with collards and mashed potatoes; and Homestead corn served Mexican style. There will also be charcuterie platters, burgers, homemade pâté, pizza, and flatbreads.
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Norman's 180 is slated to open at the end of this month. It's a beehive of activity at the Coral Gables space as the team tries to launch in time. Progress reports note that all of the equipment, flooring, and seating have already been installed. The hiring process, we are told, is in full swing.
There are many plays on the restaurant's new name, such as the 180 departure Norman is making with this endeavor. More practically, the eatery's physical address is 180 Aragon Avenue, and there are 180 seats. Norman's 180 is also going as green as possible with recycled paper products and take-out containers. The décor features reclaimed wood, and filtered -- as opposed to bottled -- water will be served.
Norman's son Justin will work with his father on the concept as the company's pastry chef and daytime manager (Norman's 180 will be open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner). Together they are sourcing out artisanal and local food, cheeses, and wines. We can't wait to experience the next generation of Norman's.