“If cameraman Korey (@KoreyDavisPhotography) doesn’t shoot it, I won’t eat it.”
While exploring the new Brickell City Centre with family or friends, you find yourself captivated by an alien, yet inviting aroma. Following your nose to the 3rd floor of this amazing new development, you arrive at the doorstep of Big Easy Wine Bar and Grill – a South African inspired restaurant named after Theodore Ernest Els, a world-renowned golfer who is so big he could easily be on the defensive line for the Miami Dolphins, but he kills it on the green instead. His daughter, executive chef Maryna Frederiksen, known as the “Little Easy” (just kidding) runs this joint with a Charlies Angels line-up of badass women managers, bartenders, and chefs.
I found it refreshing to see a mostly women dominated management team, especially the evening manager Maria, who was straight up one of the most professional, down to earth, and kickass managers I have had the privilege to encounter. I was amazed by her grace, attentiveness, and comprehensive knowledge of the menu and cocktail program. If you visit, be sure to give Maria a shot out for us! Oh, and before I forget, Maria suggested that you order the Brussels Sprouts with Bacon Marmalade ($8) as one of your side items no matter what entree you decide on. She was so freaking right! These babies are crazy good!
The restaurant is breathtakingly beautiful with an open kitchen and chef’s table for about 9 folk. I started my night ordering a couple appetizers and some cocktails. The Mini Cauliflower Samosas ($7), served with green chutney was the ish! Each one of these triangular fried savory snacks was bursting with flavor. If you like the traditional Southern Indian samosas, then this will be right up your alley. If you’ve never had a samosa, these babies are an excellent introduction.
Next, we wanted something more authentically African, so we ordered the Grilled Nigerian Prawns ($38) served with a delicious in-house garlic butter and an outstanding peri-peri chili sauce. Each prawn tasted like mini lobsters with hints of spice, garlic and heat from the per-peri sauce. It was a bit of a mission to eat these things, but well worth the effort. Ask your server to assist you, or watch the tutorial provided by the incomparable Maria on our second video review at the end of the article.
Last up for the appetizers were the Pork Belly ‘Popsicles’ ($9) – braai “bbq sauce,” cowboy candy. These delicious bites tasted like bacon wrapped dates with a homemade barbecue sauce. Pretty straight forward, you can’t go wrong with these.
Following the appetizers, we turned to the Angry Duck Curry ($22), chopped pieces of succulent duck breast drenched in a phenomenal red madras curry, with a side of coconut basmati rice. Southern Indian cuisine is captured with this curry; its red color resulting from heavy use of chili powder. Toasty spices and a smoothness from the Indian yogurt were infused with hints of a sour-sweet fruitiness of tamarind, finished off with slight citrusy taste of either lemon or lime. I absolutely loved this dish, as I am a fan of Indian cuisine through and through.
My friends wanted something a little heavier, so we ordered the Durban Bunny Chow ($35), a slow roasted lamb shank served in an artisan bread bowl. Bunny chow is a classic fusion dish, in that it resulted from Indian laborers and cooks substituting ingredients they couldn’t find in South Africa, and creating a spice mix that resulted in a distinct Durban curry not known in India.
Further, South African Indians got by with white bread flour as a substitute for chickpea or rice flour. This dish was also used to sell food to Indians, colored people and black South Africans who weren’t allowed to eat in certain restaurants during apartheid. The bread was used as a holder, or a plate, so that nothing needed to be returned after eating. Yeah, these people were straight up assholes back then.
The history of this dish made me a bit emotional, because like so many other African and indegeonous customs, it’s been appropriated by the mainstream. So now a once peasant food with a dark past is the new hip thing like pork belly and non-black women with cornrows. You can hardly find this dish in the United States, so it is very special that we have it right here in Miami. The curry is unique and flavorful with the lamb being cooked to perfection. This honestly was my second favorite dish here!
My absolute favorite dish, was yet another authentically African dish! The Peri-Peri Chicken ($24)—a whole, cage-free bird smothered in an African chili sauce. With origins in Portugal, peri-peri sauce has become a mainstay in many African nations, with each country or region adding their own twist making it their own.
The South African version is delicious! Notes of chili powder, lemon juice, garlic, ginger and salt highlight this amazingly baked chicken entrée! I came back twice for this chicken along with their hand cut french fries. Lord have mercy! (I’m trying my best to get it together by Memorial Day Weekend, but it’s not looking too good with mofos making ish like this all damn day! )
Powerless to control my inner fatty, I ordered the The ‘Big Easy’ Burger ($16), by far the best bang for your buck. The burger is served on a brioche bun with heirloom tomatoes, onion jam, braai “bbq sauce,” and hand-cut fries. Father God, give me strength to battle my salivating taste buds! A classic man’s burger, this baby was incredible. If you don’t want to be too adventurous, this is your go to meal. Just don’t make no damn since how this burger tasted on that warm bun.
Big Easy Wine and Bar has landed in Miami with a big splash! Their food and service are absolutely first class. Oh, and how can I forget the amazing cocktail program! I honestly loved everything I sampled. You can’t go wrong with any of them. Watch the video below for a better description of some of their featured cocktails.
The Big Easy Winebar & Grill is one of my new favorite spots downtown. Though amazingly beautiful, it is by no means a pretentious upscale joint. Extremely accessible, inviting, and “refined casual” at its best; and all their ingredients and produce are locally sourced and farm fresh.
I give Big Easy Winebar & Grill an easy 10 out of 10 and is Hungry Black Man approved! Visit them at Brickell City Centre, 701 S. Miami Ave #339a, Miami, FL 33131, or call for reservations by calling (786) 814-5955! Watch the video below for a nice curation by none other that Manager Maria!
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