3 stars for "seriously good cooking" at South Beach’s Tongue & Cheek

I loved Jamie DeRosa’s cooking at Tudor House. His skill was evident in dishes that were colorful, playful, unexpected and usually delicious. Some friends found the pairings odd, the prices high and the portions chintzy, but as someone who has dinner out more often than at home, I don’t have much interest in ordering Caesar salad and roasted chicken.

At his new and very personal venture just south of Fifth Street, DeRosa has combined his talent with a homey sensibility to create a something-for-everyone spot. Still everything has a bit of a twist. Even the name, while conjuring images of meaty body parts, is a play on an expression that conveys an irreverent whimsy. DeRosa and partner Michael Reginbogin offer daily specials like “family dinner” — essentially a staff meal served to guests for $10 — and a happy hour with fantastic cocktails for just $8.

Ambience: Set in a warm, open space with wood tables, deep brown booths and a loud, retro soundtrack, Tongue & Cheek will impress foodies and satisfy less adventurous palates as well.

What Worked

  • Brunch cocktails like Bloody Marys and Green Eggs n Ham that  take advantage of local tomatoes, avocados and tomatillos Fried chicken with Cheddar waffles
  • King crab eggs Benedict with Tabasco hollandaise
  • Grapefruit doused in Florida honey
  • Perfect puffs of cheesy gougéres
  • Friendly servers in black T-shirts who take time to describe what’s to come
  • A delicate English pea soup poured over pea-size lime marshmallows
  • A silken chicken liver pâté with nicely crisped toast points and pickled baby onions and cauliflower florets
  • Cauliflower whipped into a velvety panna cotta and served with uni and American caviar – te poppy, briny roe and a bouquet of beautifully pickled baby vegetables create a symphony of textures and flavors.
  • The signature burger (made from tender cheek) that delivers an intense beef experience with the richness of foie gras – a perfectly charred patty that rests like a fat pasha on a toasted, house-made brioche bun crowned with a tangle of sweet caramelized onions and creamy Cheddar pimento cheese
  • Grilled rib-eye beef cap (also known as deckle or butcher’s butter) with a visually stunning char and subtle marbling,
  • Thick, skin-on fries sizzled in duck fat
  • Gorgeous mussels, clams, scallops and other sea options that are treated tenderly
  • A pristinely cooked delicate trout served with its silvery skin on
  • A nest of crunchy corn and piquillo peppers in a bright-as-sunshine corn soup
  • Beijing-style green beans that flourish under a sweet-sour sauce dotted with chili beans and crunchy sesame
  • Delightfully composed salads
  • Discreetly dressed kale leaves with just the right amount of salt and acid
  • A lovely spring salad mix with sugared pistachios and spicy salsa verde
  • A grown-up peach crumble elevated by potent caramel bourbon ice cream

What Didn’t Work

  • A chicken pot pie in a half-empty ramekin with a gloppy sauce and a dense, crumbly crust
  • Clunky chicken skin fried chicharrone-style that looks appealing but has a floppy chewiness that doesn’t work
  • Uneven desserts by pastry chef Ricardo Torres
  • Salted pretzel ice cream that is for teenage slumber parties