Blue Collar on Biscayne Boulevard opens its doors tomorrow, and we dropped by for a visit to sample the food. The room's decor lives up to the blue collar name.
Old metal lunch pails (the kind that steel workers take their meals in, not the ones with pictures of Scooby Doo) are nailed to the light grey walls. The Beatles and Rolling Stones play in the background, as the waitresses, dressed in '50s-style diner shirts, take your drink order and point out their personal menu favorites.
We liked the casual vibe and the drink prices. Wines by the glass start at $5 for a French Sauvignon Blanc and PBR is three bucks a can. (Go for broke with a Cigar City IPA, Guinness, or Terrapin Rye for $5.)
There was more to like, frankly. The large assortment of noshes on the menu are great for sharing. With offerings ranging from Chanukah latkes ($5) to vaca frita topped tostones ($6), all bases are covered. "You've gotta try the pork and beans" ($7), chef-owner Daniel Serfer told us. "It's my favorite thing on the menu."
We did try the pork and beans, along with the wild mushroom and goat
cheese croquettes ($6). The pork and beans arrived with homemade toast,
topped with a fried egg. Break into the yolk and let it run over the dish, which is made with crumbled sausage, smoked bacon, and
white beans. It's an American version of huevos rancheros and it's
perfect for a chilly evening.
Serfer maintained his seafood connections from his days at Chef Allen's
and 15th Street Fisheries, which means his fish is fresh and reasonably
priced. The grilled swordfish ($18), was tender and delicious, and
swordfish can get tough. It's served with mushroom-potato hash, but by
all means order a side or two from the veg chalkboard.
Although it sounds like a terrible cliche, the veg chalkboard is a
garden of delights. Over a dozen veggie choices are $4 each and include
caramelized Brussels sprouts, sweet maduros, sauteed wild mushrooms, and
curried cauliflower puree. If you're vegan, check with your server,
because most of the options can be made without the butter or cheese.
Any four veggies can be served as an entree for $14.
Before leaving, Serfer came over and asked everyone what they thought.
When a guest said that though she liked the flavor of the veggie burger,
but didn't like that it was fried (the burger is a mix of fresh veggies
rolled in panko and flash fried), Serfer took the time to go over
several non-fried alternatives that could work. When we asked about the swordfish,
Serfer offered to give us a lesson in cooking seafood. That's hands on.
Serfer plans to be in the kitchen and wants Blue Collar to be a locals
hangout. "I'm really looking for this to be the kind of place where you
just come in to sit and say hi. Have some coffee (Panther coffee is served
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in a vintage thermos, by the way), and just talk."