Fuego: I love you!

As a food blogger, I often get asked what’s my favourite restaurant. I also get many people asking me where they should eat. I have never recommended a restaurant because I have never been to one I deemed worthy of a recommendation. Now that might sound immensely snobby but the truth is, as a foodie, I appreciate great service, amazing dishes that are well rounded in flavours and a good ambiance. Often, I’m left unsatisfied.

Kosher restaurants have some of the worst service in the restaurant business. Nothing is worse than bad service. Even if the food is good, service can kill it all. When the service is great but the food isn’t, you will be more likely to give it a second shot. If I wanted attitude and someone to ignore me, I would have stayed home for supper with my kids.

Here’s a question I always asked myself: Why do most Kosher restaurants serve exactly the same dishes? Are we afraid to venture away from the chicken schnitzel and the falafel? There is a whole culinary world out there but Jews tend to think it only revolves around overly processed Chinese food or Shawarma.

So when several readers wrote to me about Fuego here in Miami, I have to admit, I was sceptical. I have been to several restaurants here in Miami only to be left with horrible service and food that is far too sweet to be edible. Tonight however, on a whim, my husband offered to take me out for dinner and I suggested we try Fuego.

I can hardly find the words to describe my experience. To say it was unbelievable would be an understatement. This is why, for my first-ever restaurant post, I chose to write about Fuego because each and every one of you have to go there and taste a little piece of heaven.

Let’s begin with the service:

We were served by Fabian. Not only was he very pleasant, he was polite and very attentive. I loved how he knew right away what to recommend to us. You could see that he is a well treated employee. He was very dynamic when describing the different appetizers and he knew his menu backwards and forwards. I love that. Nothing says excellence like a waiter who looks like he loves coming into work everyday.

The restaurant is not large, so better make reservations ahead of time (we were lucky to find a table – the place was packed!), but that’s part of it’s bistro-style charm. I hope it never changes.

It was also exceptionally clean. I know this is a weird statement to make but honestly, after having been to several kosher restaurants here in Miami – and walking out- due to what I deemed to be unclean conditions. It’s a shame, really. You can tell these restaurants were probably beautiful back in the day, but having never renovated, these places feel grimy and forgotten. Who wants to eat in an atmosphere like that? Certainly not me.

Fuego, on the other hand, is gorgeous! I love how they opted for a rustic chic look. No table cloths is the new thing and I love it!

I was also impressed how the owner, Avi, made his way to every table to see how his patrons were enjoying their meal. This made for a personable atmosphere where we felt he genuinely cared about what we thought. Then I found out why I liked him so much – he’s an ex-Montrealer as well!

Now for the best part…the food:

I wouldn’t normally start with the dessert but I just can’t go on if I don’t. I need to tell you all about this amazing dessert I had at the insistence of Fabian. The chocolate mousse. Now, I know what you’re thinking because I was thinking the same thing when he suggested it – what’s so special about chocolate mousse? Fuego chocolate mousse, dare I say, makes any Nutella lover, like myself, ask “where have you been all my life?”

This was the best damn dessert I have ever eaten in my life. You all know I’m an obsessive baker, so if I say this was the best damn dessert of my life, I’m not joking. I honestly might never recover from it.

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Smooth and decadent without being overwhelmingly chocolately, this dessert reminded me of every blissful childhood memory. That vanilla mousse on the side is a little secret weapon. Not a fake dairy ice cream, this vanilla infused masterpiece was just the right accompaniment to the decadent chocolate mousse. Fabian said it was a small dessert but like everything else in America, the portion was more suited for 4 people. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I just took that baby home and will probably be dreaming of it all night. Don’t tell my trainer….or my husband for that matter.

For appetizers, we ordered the brisket empanada and the meat chili. Both were excellent but I preferred the empanada. The chili could have used a little more heat (read: spice) and I think it was slightly overcooked. The brisket empanadas were delicious and perfect as is. 3 huge portions came and I could have honestly made a meal of just that. The brisket inside was juicy and well seasoned. I also loved how they were fried but not greasy at all. My stomach got the best of me and I forgot to take pictures until we finished the steak – silly me – so I don’t have photos of the appetizers or steak to show you. Oh well, guess I have to go back sooner than I thought. It’s a tough life I live.

Next, we shared a 12oz rib eye with french fries and lentil spiced rice. Kosher restaurants typically can’t grill a steak if their life depended on it. Don’t even get my father going on the subject. Most hamburgers and steaks need to be ordered rare to avoid getting a dry, cardboard-like piece of meat. Not at Fuego. Our steak was grilled to perfection. I loved how there wasn’t too much salt either. The lentil rice however, was my least favourite part. I found it dry and pasty and I wouldn’t order it again. That steak and fries were just so superb, honestly nothing else is needed.

Now for the best part of the main course: the French fries. You can tell a lot about a restaurant by the quality of their french fries. I kid you not. What do all types of restaurants have in common? You guessed it – the mighty french fry. Why? because everyone loves them and when done right, they can be elevated to gourmet heights. That’s exactly what Fuego did. These hand-cut babies were not greasy, lightly salted and you can tell, double fried. Exactly like they should be. Thank you!

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As many of you know, I do not drink alcohol. My husband had the sangria at the owner’s insistence. Boy, was he glad he did. I was surprised, considering he is so not a fruity kind of a guy, but he said it was the “best damn drink” he ever had. Ice cold and refreshing, this is sure to please the Miami crowd. It looked and smelled absolutely delicious.

I was so jealous. Actually, I still am.

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So there you have it folks. My first-ever restaurant critique and I can honestly say that Fuego will be seeing more of me. Avi mentioned that they change the menu every 6 months which is brilliant and apparently next week is the rotation. You know where I will be…now if only I can wait a whole week to have that chocolate mousse again.

Before I leave you, I had to share with you one last picture…how adorable are these?! I almost asked him if I could take them home with me they were so darn cute! I love attention to the little details. That’s what makes this place so special.

Thank you, Fuego!

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FUEGO BY MANA

2520 NE 186 Street
North Miami Beach, FL — 33180
786 520-4082

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Comments

  1. Karen says

    What a great review. It really made my mouth water. I feel like booking a flight to Miami and go check that resto out!! And knowing how amazing a cook and baker you our makes me really trust your judgment on that one! Looking forward to reading more reviews of yours.

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