Unless you've time-traveled straight from the Mad Men era, you may not be too familiar with lobster Thermidor. The out-of-date, insanely rich dish made with diced, cooked lobster meat blended with egg yolks, cream, and brandy first appeared in France prior to the turn of the 20th Century and seemed to have gone out of style around the same time as the Jheri curl.
True, it still exists in a few pockets in Miami, including Captain's Tavern Restaurant in Pinecrest and sometimes at the high-end Miami Beach icon the Forge. But when Ioneth Cruces took over the aging Disco Fish Restaurant & Grill in West Miami, she knew it had to be on the menu.
"You can't find it anywhere," she says of the buttery, luxurious dish. "I've wanted to open a restaurant for 20 years, and when I did, I said, 'I have to have it.' "
She and her brother William Sanchez reopened the place three months ago with a fresh coat of powder-blue paint, some nautical knickknacks, and a classic Cuban seafood menu that's been welcomed by the community where Disco Fish was a mainstay for more than two decades.
"When we were building the place, people driving by kept asking, 'When, when?' " Cruces says.
On a recent weekday around lunchtime, the place was nearly full of patrons squeezing lime wedges before tearing into fried snapper and kingfish. If you're not coming for the Thermidor or fried fish, though, don't miss the grouper soup. A mountain of ground meat and cubes of boiled potatoes arrive in an oversize bowl enveloped in a fragrant, slick broth. In the style of the Garcia family's La Camaronera, there's a pan con minuta, but skip over Disco's version and opt for the pan con croquetas de pescado instead. It costs only $5, and the croquetas are spot on: appropriately fishy, studded with tiny squares of red pepper, and neither too dense nor too creamy.
There's only one problem with the place, and that's its proximity to Sonia's Seafood, with its sprawling fish market and cheap beers on a man-made lake. These are the kinds of problems to dream about.
Grouper soup $3
Pan con croquetas de pescado $5
Whole fried snapper market price
Lobster Thermidor market price
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Disco Fish Restaurant & Grill
1540 SW 67th Ave., West Miami; 305-262-6667; discofishandgrill.com. Daily 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m.