From the moment I walked into Big Easy Winebar & Grill inside the new Brickell City Centre, I knew it was going to be a very different kind of Miami experience.
Unlike the city's usual, overdone glitz, the restaurant’s earthy, South African-inspired accents give the space a sultry, masculine feel. The space is furnished with rich dark leather seating, marble stone, hardwood tables and industrial-like chandeliers. I felt like I was eating in my friend’s living room. And after all the good meat, seafood and wine, I only wanted to be on a living room couch or in bed. The (wine and) food coma is real.
Once there, I settled into my cozy booth, and at the suggestion of our very attentive waiter, ordered a glass of the restaurant’s signature red blend, the Big Easy 2014 from Stellenbosch, South Africa (which I ordered again and again). The wine is from Ernie Els’ own vineyards located in the Western Cape terroir of South Africa. Many of the region’s influences are found throughout the menu.
“Miami has never really experienced the South African influence of flavors, which lends itself to great opportunity for creativity,” says Executive Chef Maryna Frederiksen. A South African native, Chef Maryna has over 20 years of experience working at AAA Five Diamond and James Beard Award-winning dining destinations all over the world.
“The Latin spices that people are used to tasting are presented in an entirely different way. Take our Florida Linefish Ceviche with sweet potato, corn nectar and grilled lime, for example. We’ve taken something that is very well known in Miami and put our own unique twist on it.” - Chef Maryna
Our waiter continued to guide us through the “Tid-Bits” and “Starters” sections of the menu from Cauliflower samosas paired with green chutney to mini crab cakes topped with crisp apple slaw and curry aioli.
The 14-ounce Bison Ribeye was undeniably the main event. One thing Big Easy does really well is its meats. The bison itself cut like butter and practically melted in my mouth, and there’s even a list of housemade sauces and “Chef’s Butters” to pair with it. For our bison, we were given a trio of flavorful Peri-Peri Cream, spicy red Madagascar Pepper and Horseradish Cream sauces, and the bison itself was topped with the Roasted Garlic Herb Chef’s Butter.
“The Pork Belly Lollipop and Cowboy Jam is really special, too. Anyone that has worked with pork belly before knows that the preparation is quite involved to achieve the small piece that is the lollipop. It’s a multi-step process that takes days to complete.” says Chef Maryna.
What really makes Big Easy Winebar & Grill so special? If you ask me, it’s because of how different it is from most restaurants we find on the Miami food scene.
Everything from the chef, the origin and the cooking styles, to the flavors, setting, and of course, the dishes, are brand new, and they bring a much-needed breath of fresh air to the Magic City. In its first few weeks, Big Easy has already been a hit… and if you can’t tell already, we understand why.
Big Easy Winebar & Grill is located at 701 South Miami Avenue, Suite 339A. It is open Sunday to Thursday, from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., and on Fridays and Saturdays, from 11:30 a.m. to Midnight.