Alter's Signature Egg Gets the Dr. Seuss Treatment Downtown

The incredible, edible egg.
The incredible, edible egg. Courtesy of Brava
For years, Brad Kilgore wanted to tweak the soft-cooked egg that became a hit almost the day his Wynwood restaurant, Alter, opened in 2015. The only problem was that changing the dish, which accomplished its mission to become a signature almost too well, was borderline taboo.

Nevertheless, two years ago, while toying around with a soft sheep and goat's milk feta cheese from Australia, Kilgore thought the egg could be reinterpreted into a version of the Greek spinach pastry spanakopita. Jeff Maxfield, who recently led Kilgore's Brava and has been promoted to executive corporate chef to help Kilgore manage all of his restaurants, suggested green eggs and ham. They were off.

Because of Brava's focus on modern Italian cuisine, the 30-year-old Maxfield cooked up a batch of ribollita, an Italian peasant stew designed to stretch old vegetables and stale bread into a second-day meal. The original version was far too rustic.

"That army-green flavor you get from overcooked greens takes the refinement out of it," Kilgore says. "We took all the components and asked, 'How do we treat them all individually so they shine through?'"

What resulted is a creamed ribollita with leeks, celery root, parsnips, marble potatoes, kale, celery, fennel, snap peas, and green beans, all cooked individually and then married in an herb broth.

The minuscule, almost identical cubes of vegetables in Brava's egg ($17), which comes in the same conical bowl as the one at Alter, replace the loamy truffle pearls at the bottom of the original. And, in a way, the veggies are better.

In many instances, luxe ingredients such as truffles, Japanese beef rippled with fat, and caviar are window dressing for a sometimes lackluster view. Though Alter's egg — with its truffle pearls, scallop espuma, and Gruyère crisp — is a delight, this latest version is a far better definition of refinement, boasting sophisticated flavors culled from simple ingredients with brutal attention to detail and continual revision.

The dish is filled out with a similarly deep level of balanced complexity. The soft-cooked egg goes at the bottom of the bowl, sprinkled with a bit of Maldon salt and a splash of bacon broth, which has been reduced and gelled and chopped and strained who knows how many times. Then comes the ribollita, concealed under a crisp of butter-soaked phyllo dough, hidden by a creamy, airy spinach and feta espuma. It's finished with a dash of chili oil, smoked salt, and a small garden of microgreens and edible flowers.

And like at Alter, it would be foolish to order the egg without a stubby, fluffy loaf of house bread. It's been revamped here with a garlic, rosemary, Parmesan, umami butter, and rice flour crust. All that's left to do is dig deep and pull up all of that green goodness.

Brava by Brad Kilgore. 1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 786-468-2365;
KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Zachary Fagenson became the New Times Broward-Palm Beach restaurant critic in 2012 before taking up the post for Miami in 2014. He also works as a correspondent for Reuters.
Contact: Zachary Fagenson