Cay Café’s changing menu presents a stylish lunch option at DCOTA

Photos by Linda Bladholm for the Miami Herald.
Photos by Linda Bladholm for the Miami Herald.

The Design Center of the Americas (DCOTA) is open to the public, and so is its Cay Café, an open-air space with caged Edison lights and window boxes of mother-in-law’s tongue plants flanking the entrance.

The detached kitchen is large enough to handle catered parties in the lobby of Atrium B with sun pouring in from skylights. The lunch-only menu changes about every six weeks, but there is always the signature roast beef and Boursin cheese sandwich on ciabatta, and a burger on a brioche bun with brie, onion marmalade, tomato and bacon. You might be surrounded by millions of dollars of designer decor, but no dish here is more than $16.

Manager Caroline Poussardin (pictured) left Aix en Provence, where she was born in her parents’ restaurant, to join a friend in Miami 20 years ago and stayed. She started as a waitress at the Delano, worked at Café Tabac and Michy’s, then opened Cote Gourmet in Miami Shores (her parents run it now). 

DCOTA owner Charles Cohen hired Poussardin two years ago to run the newly built kitchen and assist chef Thierry Goulard, a native of Brittany, France, and veteran of many New York and Charleston restaurants. 

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the center as a design destination. So even if not shopping for a new sofa or chandelier, you can celebrate with a Cay salad, bringing mixed greens, crispy coconut-breaded shrimp, grilled peach slices, cherry tomatoes and candied pecans in raspberry vinaigrette. 

Other salads include a Greek with feta; classic Cobb; Thai chicken and rice noodle salad with broccoli and snow peas in sweet chile soy sauce; and quinoa with red onion, tomatoes and cilantro dressed in lemon and olive oil. 

Pastas range from fettuccine Alfredo to ravioli stuffed with sautéed trumpet mushrooms in cream sauce with peppers and peas. For a few dollars more add chicken, seared tuna, salmon or shrimp to any pasta or salad. 

Sandwiches include a Cuban with slow-roasted pork, smoked ham, Emmental cheese, pickles and grainy Dijon mustard; tarragon chicken salad on walnut-raisin bread; turkey with caramelized onions and avocado on focaccia; and portobello mushroom with roasted red pepper and zucchini with sour cream on focaccia. There’s also a club on whole wheat and a chicken and cheddar quesadilla with pico de gallo, spicy aioli and cilantro cream. 

Finish with a housemade warm apple tart (pictured) with vanilla ice cream. 

Linda Bladholm is a Miami-based food writer.