Sherwood’s Bistro & Bar in El Portal is an enchanted forest of antiques and potted plants, a hidden gem of a restaurant with contemporary comfort food that is as eclectic as the decor.
Open only a few months, it feels as if it has been around for a long time, with its big distressed flower cabinet holding a collection of milk glass, Portuguese floor tiles, round glass parlor lights fastened to the cream walls, weathered wood columns and an open kitchen viewed through windows.
There’s also the Magnolia bar, and in back the “bird room” to one side of the front entrance with prints of owls, penguins and cockatiels, a chandelier above the table and a blue banquet with seating for a party of six.
Start with these dishes
Head to a small table where there is a wheel of Grana Padano cheese; dig in with bread and clover honey, all complimentary. Then try the daily crudo, often with grouper in jalapeño vinaigrette, or the 2nd Avenue skillet in a cast iron pan with melted burrata, pan-seared bits of eggplant, soft sun-dried tomatoes, capers and pine nuts with toast. There’s also a quesadilla with black beans, butternut squash and kale.
Share these dishes
Don’t miss the whole roasted duck with two sides, a charcuterie and cheese plate, and milk and honey platter with feta, triple cream cheese, olives, dried fruit, Marcona almonds and honey comb. For an entrée, consider coq-au-vin, bouillabaisse or the sweet potato and coconut curry over brown rice and lentils. Rabbit pot pie comes in broth under a cap of puff pastry. The Sherwood salad is soba noodles tossed with arugula, avocado, green beans and sun-dried tomatoes in herb dressing. There are also steaks and burgers.
Save room for dessert
The huge bowl of warm blackberry and blueberry crumble with vanilla ice cream is enough to feed four or more.
What makes it special
Owner Barclay Graebner and business partner Steve Harivel have known each other since they opened the pop-up Annex in Wynwood. Steve decorated Sherwood’s with much of the collection from there. Graebner is well known in Miami for her Wynwood restaurant Morgan’s, and she also owns Black Sheep in North Bay Village. Together, they hired chef Gabriel de Souza, from Uruguay, to create the menu. Originally from Westport, Connecticut, Graebner came to Miami Beach when she was 19 and opened Blue Dog Café on Española Way, which morphed into a wholesale bakery delivering baked goods to hotels.
If you go
: Sherwood’s Bistro & Bar
: 8281 NE Second Avenue, El Portal
: Monday-Thursday 5 p.m.-midnight, Friday and Saturday 5 p.m.-1:30 a.m.
: Starters $8-$16, salads $14-$18, entrees $12-$38, sharing platters $18-$45, sweets $8
Valet parking available in the lot next door, free wi-fi, full bar