There are two types of gourmet markets: the modern sort, as in lots of white tiles, bright lights, and shiny stainless steel Metro shelving; and the rustic old-time look favored by Scotty's Grocery. Well, not really favored. The style in this case has been attained involuntarily through evolution, the landmark market having been on this spot since 1925. Four months ago the property was sold to two chefs of Two Chefs restaurant, Denmark natives Jan Jorgensen and Soren Bredahl.
While it's ironic that this duo of great Danes should inherit the Scottish terrier as their logo, in other ways the fit seems apropos: Jan and Soren understand food quite well, their upscale neighborhood restaurant being on its way toward becoming a landmark of its own after six successful years in South Miami. In fact I was sort of hoping the "new" Scotty's would display more of Two Chefs' tasteful New American tendencies. Long-time Scotty fans, of which there are many, probably don't share such aspirations, which is the point behind approaching change cautiously. Modifications are on the way, though, including a take-out window for coffee and baked goods, a wine bar for demo and tastings, a salad bar, a lobster tank, and a general kick up in quality of prepared foods.
At first glance Scotty's doesn't appear to have been altered a whit -- from the outside it still looks like a quaint country store, while the interior remains neatly categorized into breads, pastries, wines, cheeses, specialty produce, meats, fish, poultry, prepared foods, and grocery items. Within these classifications, though, there already have been subtle improvements, for instance the breads, many of which (like sesame, sourdough, focaccia, and a sweet whole wheat loaf) are baked at Two Chefs. The produce section seems brighter, too, distinguished by a collection of succulent heirloom tomatoes. Can't remember what desserts used to be like here, but now they're as big and American as women's hairdos at a Rotary luncheon. Among the classic layer cakes: coconut, carrot, and an achingly sweet but worth the pain pumpkin-praline.
3117 Bird Ave, Coconut Grove
305-443-5257. Open daily, Monday through Saturday 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., Sunday 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Scotty's eclectic wine offerings have been tinkered with as well, some 250 bins presently stocked with bottles starting as low as $9 each, and going up to about $150; these are for drinking, not collecting dust. There are more than 85 varieties of cheese to enjoy with your grapes, most of them imports (including a personal favorite, cabacou goat cheese from Perigeaux).
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Prepared foods, never a Scotty's strength, are where the two chefs' touches are needed most; having culinarians of their caliber on hand gives this market a potentially big advantage over other take-outs. Plans call for the current selection of daily changing hot-and-cold specials to be expanded in scope and lightened via emphasis on healthier ingredients. Meanwhile best bets on a recent Friday were seafood gumbo stocked with clams, shrimp, and rice; moist slices of roast turkey with workmanlike mashed potatoes and savory mushroom gravy; and ground-veal dumplings in a clean, green curry sauce. None were spectacular, but all good enough to whet one's appetite for what's to come; these two chefs most assuredly will be able to teach old Scotty's some new tricks.