2.5 stars for gourmet Cuban classics at Gables’ Bread + Butter

Latin American cafeteria grub gets globalized at Albert Cabrera’s new Bread + Butter in Coral Gables. Some in the rice-and-beans crowd may find it too precious, but if you’re open to trendy homages to classic Miami dishes, you’ll be tickled by what this native son conjures up.

Cabrera is dreaming in Cuban, and these dreams are psychedelic. Paired with a robust craft beer and wine menu, his gastropub creations court culinary trends while clinging to their Miami roots. Cabrera, 37, has no formal culinary education, but trained in some of South Florida’s top kitchens, including Baleen with Robbin Haas, Norman’s with Norman Van Aken, STK and, most recently, The Local. This is his first venture as chef-owner and he’s clearly reveling in his independence.

Ambience: A 15-stool counter of repurposed wood runs the length of the shoebox-sized restaurant. Old family photos adorn one chalkboard-black wall, and white subway tiles line the other. Keeping it casual are bare bulbs and exposed air ducts overhead, a raw concrete floor underfoot and brown butcher paper on the eight tables. Water is served in camp cups.

  • What worked
  • A doughy Chinese steamed bau bun stuffed with Cuban roast pork and pickled garlic
  • Complimentary fried “crackling of the day” — a chicharrón served on a cigar-sized tasting plate as an amuse bouche
  • Dessert beignets kneaded from yuca and served with five-spice sugar syrup
  • Smoked oxtail with garlic on a moist polenta cake topped by a runny fried egg
  • The Frita China – a juicy chorizo-and-beef slider with kimchi, cilantro, onion, fried shoestring potatoes and sriracha sauce
  • An affordable carne mechada that showcases the ultra-thick, seldom-seen tri-tip, cooked sous-vide  with a chunk of chorizo, glazed root vegetables, a creamy garbanzo-brown-butter puree and luscious, wine-enriched bordelaise sauce
  • Sweet-tart roasted beet salad with pistachios, goat cheese, orange and apple slices and celery
  • A truly caring waiter who excelled at explaining dishesDdreamy French toast dessert made from house-made Cuban bread, evaporated and condensed milk and house-made cream cheese ice cream

What Didn’t Work

  • Ovelry sweet & slimy bacon-wrapped plantains with an overwhelming five-spice sauce
  • Cute, but petite goat cheese flan served in a can
  • Crowded weekend nights that overwhelm the small space — and the kitchen
  • A swordfish steak special that was raw in the middle