Don’t be misled by the bins of split logs, a striking visual asset of the open kitchen at Orno, located within the THesis Hotel, just steps away from the University of Miami. You might expect explosive flavor seared into savory steaks, lamb or pork—which, absolutely, the menu features. But chef Niven Patel’s deft oven and grill skills really shine when he harnesses fire-power to season, modulate texture, and even blend with subtle flavors. Take, as an example, a starter of lemongrass ribs, smoked just to tenderness, brushed with Thai garlic glaze, peanuts and a tangle of dreamy house-pickled kumquats atop. Those kumquats, among truckloads of other citrus and produce that arrive daily from the chef’s own two-acre farm, Rancho Patel, and from other local growers, determine an evolving, enticing, fresh-as-it-gets menu. Adventurous tasters might opt for a delightful meal exploring a mix-and-match of starters and sides—led by the popular gruyere-stuffed Vidalia onion, green-chickpea hummus with beets, and grilled octopus with potato confit and pimentón aioli. Family-style dining is encouraged.
Beverage director AJ Sedjat fine-tunes his 150-bottle wine list to the food. “We are so ingredient-focused,” he says. “Chef and I try every bottle together before it goes on the list.” Sedjat likes sticking to what he considers, “undiscovered boutique classics.” Among sure-fire favorites, he pairs the Super Tuscan Biserno from Tenuta di Biserno, their current “flagship” wine, with anything wood-fired. “It’s a blend with intense aromas, elegant and savory, but still has plenty of fruit.” Variety extends to by-the glass selections—tempranillo from Bodegas Emilio Moro in Ribera del Duero, a pinot bianco from Kettmeir in Alto Adige, and a Mendoza sémillon from El Enemigo.
1350 S. Dixie Highway, Coral Gables FL 33148
Writer Margaret Shakespeare has reported from wine-producing regions throughout the world—profiling winemakers and wineries, telling viticulture, wine history and trend stories. Besides wine and food, she also writes often about design, remote destinations, wildlife, and occasionally, baseball. Quirky stories in any field especially get her attention. She lives in New York City and the winelands of Long Island, once working as a harvest intern for a local winery there.
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