Monday, January 26, 2009
Louis' List: Pacific Time
It's an old favorite with a new home in what's becoming one of the hottest neighborhoods in South Florida. Pacific Time has always been one of the great South Beach restaurants, and now it's the star of the Design District. Tonight it's on Louis' List.
WSVN -- The Miami Design District. I know I'm a beach bum. It takes a lot to get me off South Beach, but I find myself spending more and more time here. I get my haircut here, I shop here, and I eat here a lot. And this is one of my favorite places to go, the new Pacific Time.
After 15 years on Lincoln Road in the heart of South Beach, this four star eatery has new digs on Northeast 40th Street in the heart of the Miami Design District or as Chef Jonathan Esiman calls it, West Beach.
Chef Jonathan Esiman: "I love the neighborhood, and it was time to do something like this. I was on Lincoln Road for 15 years. It was a great run."
So Jonathan packed up the signature clock, the kitchen and the staff and headed west.
Chef Jonathan Esiman: "I'll never forget the day I walked down those stairs at the back of that kitchen, and I tapped the wall, and I said, 'Thank you, Pacific Time, you've been great to me.'"
Chef Jonathan Esiman: "Roast chicken with daily greens, roast chicken house fries."
The new menu is more California cuisine, with some Asian influences and of course a few classic Pacific Time dishes from the SoBe days, but Jonathan was about to blow my taste buds with the new food.
Chef Jonathan Esiman: "So this is one of our appetizers. We're having popcorn shrimp. It's one of our signature dishes here. These are our little tempura key shrimp. We add a little bit of this delicious Thai vinaigrette we make. It has tomatoes, chiles and garlic, and we coat it nice and lightly. We mixed it with some shredded scallions."
Louis Aguirre: "Spicy, you got that sweet going on also, and you can taste the freshness of the shrimp."
Chef Jonathan Esiman: "You know people like anything that's golden brown, crispy, salty and spicy. That's it!"
Next up, a pizza bianchi from Jonathan's new wood burning oven.
Chef Jonathan Esiman: "We let our dough rise a little bit. We put some goat cheese fontina mozzarella. We put it in the oven as such, add a little frisee the Italian chicory, on top oil and vinegar."
Chef Jonathan Esiman: "The sign of a good pizza is that it doesn't wilt."
Chef Jonathan Esiman: "I'm from Brooklyn, and if I made bad pizza they would repeal my citizenship."
Luis Aguirre: "I think you're right. One of the best pizzas I've ever had in Miami."
But wait, it's this next dish that was so outrageously good.
Louis Aguirre: "Oh wow! What's that?"
Chef Jonathan Esiman: "This is something called the nudie. It's essentially ricotta, sheep's milk egg and cheese just until it's bound. If you have had gnocchi, it's like 20 times as light as gnocchi, it's like air."
And I couldn't leave without a P.T. classic, and this is one of my favorites.
Chef Jonathan Esiman: "This is wood roasted striped bass with szechuan, which is a Lincoln Road original. It was on the menu from day one. Shredded collard greens, a little bit of red onion. It's a simple dish."
Chef Jonathan Esiman: "This is beautifully cooked. Do you see the way that came apart? That's just beautifully cooked."
Chef Jonathan Esiman: "You might taste a bit of Lincoln Road in here. That sauce was on the menu the day we opened on Lincoln Road."
So the walls may be be new and so are some of the flavors, but I was happy to find that Pacific Time is still one of the best restaurants we have here in South Florida in a new up-and-coming neighborhood that's quickly becoming my new place to hang.
Chef Jonathan Esiman: "I really believe that this area and perhaps just 40th Street will become the number one dining destination for Miami for the next decade. I really believe that's going to happen."
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
35 NE 40th St.
Miami, FL 33137