27 Restaurant and Bar is helmed by chef James Seyba in collaboration with Bar Lab's Gabriel Orta and Elad Zvi and Sydell Group's Roy Albert,takes up up an old two-story house on the property of upscale beach hostel the Freehand. A year ago, there was virtually nothing there. Orta, though, saw potential in the building.
The work paid off. Multiple rooms on the first floor are reminiscent of a vintage bed and breakfast.
A chalkboard near the hostess stand features the local farms and partners where ingredients are sourced from. It sets the tone for the experience. 27 is a homey, unpretentious space filled with people of all ages coming together to enjoy a meal.
Upstairs, a bar invites you to have a well-crafted cocktail from the carefully curated menu that features both savory and fruity libations. I sorely wished there was a thunderstorm that evening, because that spot is perfect to sit and listen to the outside rain falling. It's also what the ever-popular Broken Shaker sorely needs - a bar with a roof for when the Miami elements prove too hot or wet to enjoy an al fresco drink.
Of course, dinner must start with cocktails. The Walk This Way, made with hibiscus orange waterm fresh passionfriut, and Crema sherry ($11), was a perfect start to the evening.
27 also makes its own bottled cocktails, like the Green Acres, a blend of matcha-infused tea infused with celery, fresh citrus, Dolin vermouth, and Beefeater gin ($11).
There are small nooks everywhere to relax with a drink on mismatched, vintage MiMo furniture.
Orta says most of the items are thrift store finds, but there's a lot of thoughtful detail -- like the "old school" placemats that show a map of the sunshine state and highlight the Broken Shaker's favorite places to go in Miami.
The menu is a one-page compilation of "greatest hits" from chef Seyba, along with input from Orta and Zvi. As Orta explains, it's true Miami in every sense of the word -- an amalgam of Latin, Jewish, Mediterranean, Old Floridian, Italian, and Asian cuisine. Somehow, it works. Another plus is the cost. Most of the shared plates are quite generous in size and two people could easily make a good meal from three dishes with a check coming in at well under $50 before taxes and tip. For Miami Beach, that's a good deal.
Elad's shashuka ($10) features two eggs poached over a zesty tomato stew, served with plenty of Zak the Baker bread to dip into the savory, runny goodness.
Bubbe's latkes ($8) feature four mini-potato pancakes topped with sour cream and chopped granny Smith apples.
Florida Middleneck clams ($18) are steamed in a fragrant broth filled with chorizo. Watermelon radish and leeks give the plate lots of color and more Zak the Baker bread is provided to sop up the remaining liquid.
Jamie's kimchi fried rice ($19) is a "must". This oversized portion serves three or more and the tangy, sour kimchee plays the perfect foil to the rich duck egg yolk that runs into the rice. It's extreme comfort food.
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Griot and pickliz ($9) is a tribute to Haitian culture in Miami. Crispy pork shoulder is accompanied by a spicy slaw.
Full disclosure. I was invited by Freehand's PR people to dine there. Alas, there was no room for dessert. But then again, I finally found a New Year's resolution I can stick to: Return to 27 to try the banana puddin'.