On a recent expedition to the inner sanctum of Miami’s groovy art scene, I decided to go with my entourage to a very vibrant, kaleidoscopic restaurant in the Wynwood Arts District.
Foraging through the neighborhood, one is on high-alert as splashes of art imbue every sphere of vision. Mutli-colored murals, painted on walls and concrete edifices, are at every turn. Look down on the payment and read stenciled quotes and musings. The vibe of street art is alive and well; Wynwood is like a virtual frozen circus of color-flooded expression.
The area is home to a handful of top-notch restaurants. It just so happened that my group meandered into WKB(Wynwood Kitchen & Bar) which offers cultural trollers a hip, energetic emulsion of good food, craft cocktails and wall-to-wall art. There is the option of sitting outside under a canopied patio, and if the Miami heat isn’t too grueling, that could be appealing. On this particular day, I opted for the interior.
Inside, the restaurant’s walls are awash with color and texture from various artistic renderings, however I soon became more interested in the creations that were coming from the kitchen. Small plates of eye-catching concoctions were zipping past my table, begging for my attention.
Trying to keep focused on the task at hand, I looked over the drink menu and was impressed by the selection of cocktails. Because it was early afternoon, I decided on a chilled glass of crisp Sauvignon Blanc from Giesen. WKB is heralded as a tapas-style eatery, so my group enthusiastically ordered an assortment of small plates.
The first to come out was the Ropa Veija Empanadas, ironically made with chicken instead of typical shredded beef. They were lightly drizzled with a delicious cilantro crema. The pastry was flaky and filled with juicy, frays of flavorful chicken. The unexpected surprise was the slight kick of mouth-watering spiciness that followed. I found out from our server that this is the restaurant’s best seller, and I can understand why. In Miami, where empanadas can be found on just about every street corner, I must admit that these were some of the best! (And believe me, I’ve done my research).
Next came a heaping pile of Lemon-Pepper Calamari. I liked that this dish was a slight departure from ordinary fried calamari. Adding lemon-pepper seasoning provided a unique, zesty fusion of flavors. I admire a chef who adds a little twist to a traditional menu item.
On the heels of the calamari, our server delivered Flautas to the table. These consisted of braised and shredded short rib smothered in Chihuahua cheese and wrapped in a flour tortilla. The flautas were topped with a blended dollop of cilantro, guacamole, salsa and crema. I think they were a step above ordinary flautas served at typical Mexican restaurants. The short rib filing gave them that extra-wow flavor-boost and nearly elevated them to haute cuisine.
The final dish was a plate of Grilled Skewers of Chicken, pierced alongside scallions and served with a chipotle aioli dipping sauce. The skewers were okay, but I’m not really big on bird, and honestly, they didn’t make me want to shake my tail feathers (oh, no she didn’t).
I think overall the atmosphere was electric, the food was above average and the service was excellent. I am eager to go back, especially to experience the evening vibe or perhaps during a gallery walk, which is a great time to people watch. I highly recommend this restaurant. If you’re anywhere within a 20-mile radius, it’s worth the drive. WKB is located at 2550 NW 2nd Avenue in Miami. Visit their website at http://www.wynwoodkitchenandbar.com.