Georgia's Union Opens in Miami Beach

When Morgans restaurant moved into the location on Purdy Avenue in Miami Beach last year, it was nigh impossible to escape the Joe Allen's feel that lingered there.

So the place closed, then reopened this past Saturday after a quick, month-long renovation.

The inside of the restaurant looks like it hopped out of a weekly gardening magazine. There's potted foliage and a mix of wicker, wooden and cushioned chairs. The space is much airier than it was for its previous businesses, which fits the new southern soul food theme. They call it organic comfort food.

Service at Georgia's Union is well intentioned, but disorganized and largely uninformed (for instance, when asked what greens are in the mixed green side, we were told "different kinds of mixed greens"). The bread basket- filled with dry corn-flax muffins served with a block of whipped butter and Dansk Farms honeycomb- was dropped off along with the appetizers.

The roasted tomato and cucumber salad ($7 for half size, $11 for full) is light and refreshing, but stands out because of the fresh taste of home-made farmers cheese.

The duck and dumplings ($8) should be renamed. The dish seems to be more of a stew than anything else. With great pulled duck meat and fresh root vegetables in a decadent roasted duck gravy, the only disappointing ingredients are the dumplings, which are really starchy, empty calories.

The oven-roasted Cornish game hen ($18), a top item among the menu's "Family Traditions" selections, is phenomenal, as long as you don't mind really working for it. The hen is served as a huge chunk of meat (almost identical to Morgans roast chicken item in appearance) with a sweet vegetable stuffing and a choice of the restaurant's many sides. It is unbelievably savory and loaded with rich flavor.

The menu is pricey, but the dishes are substantial and easy to share family-style. It's a challenge to qualify as comfort food when staying healthful and organic, but, if anything, the grandma's-porch feel helps up the comfort-level, even if not all of the food does.

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