Way more than spuds at Mash Potatoes restaurant in Coral Gables

Scott Wise photo by Linda Bladholm for the Miami Herald.
Scott Wise photo by Linda Bladholm for the Miami Herald.

Taste spicy Cape Malay dishes, as well as mashed spuds plus bacon-and-brie mac and cheese at Mash Potatoes, a strip-mall restaurant in Coral Gables with generous portions and reasonable prices. 

The 22-seater has buttercream walls with dark wood trim and porcelain “wood” floors with an open kitchen in back. A fridge case by the faux-stone counter holds grab-and-go slices of quiche and desserts. 

Order at the register, and a server will bring your food to you. Symbols on the menu indicate if a dish is vegan, vegetarian, paleo, low sugar, gluten-free and if it contains nuts.

Chef-owner Scott Wise is a native of South Miami. When attending a junior college in Athens, Georgia, his severe dyslexia made it difficult to study. During finals, he started cooking for students, finding his calling. He went to culinary school, graduating from Johnson & Wales in North Miami in 2001. He went on to work at the old Sonesta Beach Resort in Key Biscayne, the Ritz-Carlton and Victor Hotel in South Beach and was the banquet chef at BLT Steak in Atlanta. 

Through a contact from a friend, Wise traveled to the Loire Valley of France to stage at Le Calabash, a culinary school in a traditional farmhouse kitchen, run by Alison and Sidney Bond, originally from South Africa. Sidney Bond mentored Wise for six months, and when Scott returned home, he started a successful catering company. When he needed more space two years ago, Mash was born in a storefront.

In the morning, croissants and bagels are available for take-out or to eat in, which is the better option to enjoy a full English breakfast or an omelet. Lunch and early dinner starters include Sicilian eggplant caponata with pine nuts and goat cheese pate; antipasto with red pepper pesto and mozzarella; and soup of the day made from vegetable or bean purees.

Try the lamb burger with hummus and tabbouleh or pulled pork on a brioche bun. Chicken piri piri salad with avocado comes on the bun or in a wrap. The roasted chicken is marinated in a hot sauce made with a tiny chile brought to Goa, India, from the New World by the Portuguese. 

Make a meal of a potato mash, such as the truffle and porcini or roasted garlic and parsley. 

The most interesting dish is bobotie (pronounced ba-boor-tea), a ground-beef meatloaf casserole spiced with curry powder and bay leaves mixed with egg custard and baked in a water bath. It originated in Java, where it was called bobotok and came from Indonesia to Cape Town with the Dutch colonists in the 1600s and was adopted by the Cape Malay community of enslaved Javanese in South Africa. Here it is served with brown rice and housemade fruit-and-raisin chutney. 

Cake of the day might be beer cake made with Heineken, popular with University of Miami students, but there’s always tiramisu spiked with Kahlua; passion fruit creme brûlée tart; and the triple threat, a chocolate-crusted tart filled with chocolate caramel topped with chocolate ganache. Add this spot to your to-go list.

Linda Bladholm is a Miami-based food writer.