Miami Eateries Redefining American Cuisine: Blue Collar
Executive chef Daniel Serfer has turned this Biscayne Boulevard hotel annex into a charming eatery, both retro and cozy, with an utter lack of pretense. But the food is not merely utilitarian. There’s always something inventive in the works, whether it be in a robust sandwich stuffed with pork and veal shoulder, blended with brisket and covered in fresh mozzarella, or a homey yet refined shrimp and grits dish with Trugole cheese from Italy and Nueske’s applewood bacon.
The American tradition or region your restaurant is based on?
Probably a fusion of my Miami Jewish upbringing with a Cuban influence.
Your “calling card” dish?
The pork and beans appetizer. It’s a nice hearty dish, with tons of great pork products and a runny egg and toast, whose title epitomizes “blue collar.” While simple in name, it requires a lot of patience and technique in order for the finished product to be as delicious as ours is.
The biggest surprise on the menu?
Our homemade pasta with big ragout sauce. No one would expect to walk into a small restaurant attached to a motel and find homemade pasta mixed with a decadent sauce that takes 12 hours to produce.
Earliest childhood memory involving American food?
Going to the Newport Pub restaurant (where the Newport Beachside Hotel & Resort is) on Collins Avenue for prime rib dinner every year for my birthday.
Your culinary mentor?
Chef Allen Susser [who ran chef Allen’s in Aventura for 25 years] took a chance on me when no one else would. He took me from an unpaid, inexperienced line cook to chef de cuisine of his award-winning restaurant.
A recent food discovery?
Portuguese muffins that I have shipped down from Portuguese immigrant areas of New England. Imagine if an English muffin and a brioche had a baby—they can make absolutely anything more delicious.
The music at your restaurant?
Anything from The Velvet Underground to The Clash, and lots of late-’80s and early-’90s pop.
The meal you’ll never forget?
New Year’s Eve 2002 at Azul—Michelle Bernstein’s meal made me change my career path from lawyer to chef. There was whole roasted John Dory fish and a stone crab tempura that was amazing.