Monday 14 July 2014

Black Brick, 3451 NE 1st Ave, Miami, FL 33137

Regular readers will know that I have an uneasy relationship with Chinese food, you may recall that I even have a rule that I swear is true, at least in the UK…

9 out of 10 Chinese restaurants are bad.

…which is why when I eat out it is rarely for Chinese, preferring the safer bet of (in my opinion) every other type of cuisine I can think of. So when a friend took me to a Chinese restaurant I wasn’t expecting anything particularly special, even after I had read the glowing review from a local Miami newspaper.

Black Brick is the brainchild of a chef named Richard Hales, who is apparently something of a culinary figure in these parts, with a couple of successful restaurants to his name. The restaurant was in the Midtown district, somewhere I hadn’t visited before, so a new experience in a couple of ways.

My strategy? To mix it up by ordering something very familiar and something very different.

The familiar : salt and pepper squid. This is in many ways a dish that has been done to death and shouldn’t be ordered as often as it is. This is because a) the squid has to be SO fresh and b) the spice has to be JUST right before this is anything other than a massive damp squib. The squib was very much a squid and met both key criteria admirably; it was a very enjoyable dish. Was it the best squid I have ever eaten? No. Was it close? Yes it was. I know what great salt and pepper squid tastes like so a good ‘tell’ of a dish for sure and a great start to a meal.

The different : ox tail and egg. I know already that this isn’t a dish that will appeal to a lot of people, but any dish that includes whole hard-boiled eggs is already a winner in my book. As indeed it was, I won’t review the egg as all I’m doing here is congratulating (or not) a hen who is unlikely to be reading this. So I’ll focus on the ox tail : it just fell off of the bone, it was incredibly tender and there was a lot more meat than I was expecting. This was not at all just bone. And the sauce was great too, a non-descript named Szechuan sauce that seemed to contain a lot of oyster, delicious.

It remains to be seen whether the Chinese food this side of the Atlantic is any better than it is in the UK, but Black Brick was a GREAT start. Totally familiar, yet completely different, delicious.