When you think summertime in Miami, odds are lobster clambake doesn't register. Now, thanks to the folks at Tongue & Cheek, our balmy, sweaty, uncomfortable season will get a decidedly cool New England makeover.
Created by chef Jamie DeRosa, this is a big departure from his daily dinner specials, or family meals.
"[The series] just spawned from my wife, who's from Rhode Island," DeRosa said. "And when we met was one of the first times I ever was introduced to Massachusetts, if you will, to Boston and New England, and I fell in love with the casualness of a summer picnic."
Starting this Tuesday and continuing through the summer months, the craft beer and lobster clambake with the self-proclaimed motto of "Keep Calm Summer is Here," includes half a lobster, New England clam "chowda,'" clams, chorizo, corn, and potatoes, all paired with a New England craft beer.
And while the picnic is not on the beach as in traditional clambakes, inside Tongue & Cheek the atmosphere is pretty damn close. There's the casual, fun vibe that we associate with summer: Wooden tables without tablecloths; hanging Mason jar light fixtures; Mick Jagger piping over the sound-system, telling you to "get offa my cloud."
"What I designed here is two meals, so it's always going to be sharing," DeRosa said. "I want it to be very casual, so you go to the beach and you want to come; I want you to be comfortable. If you come from a business meeting and you want a bib we'll have the bibs."
Clambakes are historically cooked in holes dug in the sand with hot stones and seaweed -- not possible in a restaurant setting, and yet, DeRosa manages to keep things pretty traditional when it comes to flavor. He spent time in Maine working at a resort and found himself in the thick of lobster fever.
"I actually got to go on the boats and learn to do some lobster fishing and I just became really close with some people who have lobster business there," DeRosa said. "I have really good relationships with some of them and they send it [the lobsters] to me direct from the boats."
The lobsters used at Tongue & Cheek are non-tank lobsters, which means they aren't kept in tanks to survive. That's a very good thing, as tank lobsters aren't fed and end up starving, which leads to leaner meat that comes off of the shell and loses quality.
The clams come from Stephen Garza, owner of White Water Clams, and although they aren't steamer clams -- much to the chagrin of DeRosa's wife -- they're still pretty tasty.
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With the ingredients fresh and ready to go, DeRosa poaches the lobster in butter to give it more flavor, then grills it to order with grilled corn, bread and all the other fixings.
"The only thing I'm trying to do is create a value where I think as a local I'd want to go and be treated," DeRosa said. "I think that craft beer, a lobster dinner, and a chowder for $35 [is good]. I mean, two, three people go through a drive-thru and spend $35."
The next time you're thinking about a drive-thru dinner, head over to Tongue & Cheek instead. We suggest going early for happy hour to get even more bang for your buck.