First Bites

Porcao Farm to Grill in Brickell: Cart Service and Fresh Flavors (Photos)

Porçao Farm to Grill is lots of things. Downstairs, it's a farm-to-table restaurant with its own herb garden and room for dry-aging meats. Upstairs, it's a private club, KAO Lounge, equipped with full bottle service, as well as a smoking place, KAO Smoke, outfitted with faux cork leather floors and lockers for executives to keep their cognac and cigars. Outside, it's Brickell's soon-to-be ultimate patio happy-hour experience, thanks to a $5 and $10 all-day bar bites menu and ladies glam hour.

It's not, however, anything like the Porçao you knew from the Four Ambassadors that had ever-flowing cuts of meats sliced tableside by passadores. Instead, there are carts that do that. A raw cart, a charcuterie and cheese cart, a salad cart, and a liquid nitrogen cocktail cart all peruse from table to table while Jeff O'Neill holds down the kitchen.

Short Order was invited to a media tasting to sample Porçao's farm-to-table offerings.

See also: Porcao Farm to Grill Opening in Mary Brickell Village

Get the night started with pan con queso. It's cheesy good. Porçao's menus are presented on iPads for a few reasons. Because the menu is seasonal depending upon what's available, it's constantly changing, and the tablets eliminate the need to reprint, which is good for the environment. It's also nice to be able to see photos of the items you're thinking about ordering, and these definitely do the food justice.

Okeechobee molasses-cured salmon is thickly sliced and served alongside buttered toast and with citrus clabber cream and a house-made mustard ($12).

Veal marrow is broiled for a change and topped with royal red shrimp, herb salad, and a toasted horseradish crumble ($18). A fattie but goodie.

Raw cart rolls around for you to ogle at all the things you want most.

Ever had duck pastrami? Probably not. Change that fact by ordering this pass-around appetizer dish that takes duck pastrami and lays it atop cantaloupe. The sweetness of the fruit is a perfect balance to the saltiness of the pastrami. It's the exemplification of opposites attracting.

Take care not to walk on the garden. This is where Porçao grows all of its herbs and some of its edible flowers.

Cocktails are made tableside via molecular gastronomy. Grey Goose, fresh puréed strawberry, lime, and pomegranate juice are mixed and frozen to their coolest possible point without taking away any of the flavors.

The result is this lovely cocktail -- a vivo tojo -- topped with a frozen edible flower and a berry skewer. It tastes like a boozy, fresh slushie.

Salad cart takes care of all the greens for you. Tender lettuce and herbs are tossed with anything else you want -- roasted beets, shaved vegetables crudité, watermelon radishes, peas, and a key lime vinaigrette.

Charred grilled bass served atop seared cranberry foie gras dumplings with endive, red grapes, and chive purée.

Hollow potatoes defy the law of physics and are incredibly delicious.

Porçao suggests meat, so it wouldn't be a complete meal without some red steak. Wagyu cap steak is carved and cooked to a nice pink on an oak charcoal grill ($22).

For dessert, try Jeff O'Neill's famous key lime pie, which happens to be Oprah's favorite. Or you can go for something a little different. The "Richie bag o' donuts" is a hot sack of sweet ricotta doughnuts, seasonal preserves, peanut butter milk glaze, and crisp wafer crumbles.

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Carla Torres found her inner gourmand voice while writing for Miami New Times in 2012. She has also worked with Travel & Leisure and Ocean Drive and today is involved with a tech startup. She balances passions for wine, sweets, yoga, and kayaking.