First Bites

Jake's in South Miami Goes Gastro

Jake's in South Miami has come of age, and it's feeling a little frisky.

Now dubbed The Gastropub at Jake's, this neighborhood watering hole est. 2001 has updated its decor and menu, focusing on shareable dishes.

"It was important that we took the new economic environment into account," explains owner Cynthia Seaman.  "People really want to feel like they can go out for a fun night on the town without having to spend an arm and leg."

A nod to the U.K.'s pub-meets-high quality food model, Seaman describes the 75 percent new menu as seasonally-relevant. "We're serving lighter, sexier versions of British items. I also thought of a place I would enjoy going to, where there's a variety of things to choose from. It keeps you coming back, because you're thinking, "next time I want to try THAT." And the one-pager out of executive chef Richard Plasencia's kitchen is certainly that -- filled to the brim and benefiting from a Donald Trump-style approach to ordering. Appoint a project manager for the table, especially those of you with indecisive tendencies.

It is rare occurrence that a classic outshines the original. Plasencia does just that with his "fish and crisps," taking the traditional newsprint bundle to another plain with fresh-caught Key West snapper and a Belgian Chimay-spiked batter. Listed in the "cravings" section of the menu, the meaty strips hit the deep fryer after a quick dip in the rich coating and transform into light, melt-in-your-mouth morsels. Savor the accompanying mound of crunchy homemade potato chips, rather than the regular "chipped" potatoes akin to thick-cut French fries. Along with a subtle kick from malt vinegar (which; cuts the almost nonexistent greasiness) a cooling caper tartar sauce balances the tasty package -- the only disconnect being the "tartare" typo on the menu.

Jackie Sayet
Mussels are sweet and very fresh

"Small plates" aren't so much small, as they are lighter on the figure, and steamed mussels are a great catch. They arrive piping hot in a rich and peppery white wine and shallot broth, topped with sprigs of fresh thyme and a delicate nest of pomme frites (not of the style expected with moules, but rather like potato sticks that attended finishing school.)

The kitchen is making a point to incorporate more local and organic ingredients into dishes. Case in point, the grilled portobello carpaccio that is topped with a bed of arugula, slivers of parm and a dressing of aged balsamic vinegar and organic olive oil.  Because of the greens' sharpness, it's hard to discern any difference in quality or flavor of the oil. The roasted salmon and chicken, "large plates" that I haven't yet sampled, also bear the certification.

A playful main, the slow-cooked Cocotte easily satisfies three and is inspired by the comforting hot pots of Seaman's favorite Paris bistro. In honor of a friend named Lucy, the current version is accented with garlic and pickled red onions, and is served with rum-molasses black beans and sour orange mojo aioli on the side. Pair it with a bottle of the Willamette Valley Pinot Noir and life is good. Mini cocottes are even available for lunch, with new versions rotating on a weekly basis.

Anyone who has tried the parmesan brussel sprouts knows that Jake's means business when it comes to sides, of which there are nine available including this old favorite. Your choice of two sides accompany The Patrick Special, a hand carved black angus strip steak served with either horseradish cream, Stilton butter, peppercorn demi-glace, or roasted garlic -- all for a very reasonable $24. So it is possible to dine here without breaking the bank. Don't drink too much, though, because you'll easily top $40 per person with alcohol -- what Seaman notes as the average.

Jake's interpretation is successful. When you walk into the space, the restaurant feels lighter and more open that its first generation, thanks to a soft coat of ivory paint. Manager Leah Daniels explains that the whole redesign -- also including new curtains, remodeled bathrooms, removal of banquet posts and a shiny new dark-wood floor -- was completed in 1.5 weeks. The restaurant only paused service for a couple of days while the floor was laid down.

You can approach the menu from the top down or the bottom up. Linger and socialize while sampling multiple dishes over multiple beers or glasses of wine. Either way, you're in for a bloody good time.

The Gastropub at Jake's

6901 Red Road, Coral Gables, FL 33146

New Hours of Operation

Monday-Tuesday 11:30 am - 10:00 pm

Wednesday 11:30 am - 11:00 pm

Thursday-Friday 11:30 am - Midnight

Saturday 4:00 pm - Midnight

Sunday 4:00 pm - 9:00 pm

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Monday thru Friday

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The Cocktail Party
$5 cocktails &
complimentary tastings

For reservations call 305.662.8632

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Jackie Sayet

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