Fire up those palettes because Miami Spice kicks off today with a mouth-watering selection featuring over 160 of Miami’s mightiest and finest restaurants on the scene. Indulge in a three-course pre-fixe lunch ($23) or dinner ($39) for a fraction of the price. And making a splash on that list is Miami Beach’s new kid on the block, Tongue & Cheek, helmed by chef-about town, Jamie De Rosa. De Rosa who brings his supreme talent and haute cuisine to the laid back digs of T&C, is firing up a delectable menu crafted with local ingredients and hearty cheer.
I recently visited T&C for one of their Kitchen Collab series and walked away with the most delicious food baby after my six course dining experience. A thorough presentation cultivated by the mix of different textures, flavors, and spices, has put this restaurant at the top of my list. Granted, I probably wouldn’t be writing this review if my meal was below standard, but when I get the opportunity to have a good meal in this city, I shout it from the rooftops.
I had the pleasure of meeting Chef Jamie after our meal and he was such a delight! I instantly knew I wanted to shine the spotlight on this down-to-earth family man. Get the scoop from the inside- from where he got his love of cooking to the latest T&C expansion coming soon to an arena near you- It’s all here on Freshly Squeezed Fashionista!
FSF: I just recently had my first ever Tongue and Cheek experience and I was contently stuffed. Everything was delicious! When did you know, “this is it. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life?”
JDR: While I do not have one of those stories of working in the root cellar of a Michelin star french restaurant as a child. I do however, consider most of my introductory culinary interests to making paella with my grandmother for holidays and family get tog ether’s. It wasn’t until working with Chef Allen Susser where I fell in love with the people who allow chefs to do wheat they do, the fish monger who caught the fish, the farm who grew the tomatoes and the gentlemen who cultivated those beautiful clams. It was easy after that. Use the freshest ingredients and do very little to them.
FSF: How does your approach to cooking reflect itself in the way you present the dishes at the restaurant?
JDR: We tend to do very little to the ingredient themselves directly. But we do like to prepare that same ingredient in different variations. Presenting those beautiful ingredients on plates is a well thought out concept in itself. Chefs sometimes have to see the outcome of the plate in order to begin. When you’re using great ingredients its’ much more clear to see the end result.
FSF: T&C is a more laid back setting than your previous gig at Tudor House, yet, the quality and the presentation of the food is still supreme. How do you maintain that feel without being stuffy?
JDR: It was part of the concept from the beginning. To give guests the same style of cooking using the same technique but scale back the dining room so it’s comfortable and relaxed. Having warm and inviting service and hospitality is part of that approach. “under promise and over deliver”
FSF: You must dream in food! I’m convinced that’s how you come up with all these great dishes. Where do you get ideas for new and exciting dishes to create and what’s the process to introducing this dish on the menu?
JDR: We meet each week as a culinary team and talk about food, trends, what’s in season, who’s reading what and write down ideas. Some make it on the menu others just become part of good conversation. You can’t add everything everyone comes up with. Ultimately, I have to make those menu decisions that stay in line with what Tongue & Cheek is and what our guests have come to expect.
FSF: It seems like every season, a new food trend pops up on the scene. Do you follow these trends at all and do you try to incorporate them in your food or are food trends something you steer clear of?
JDR: Yes, I think food trends are important. But more important is how has it become a trend. I mean, not everyone should be making cronuts. But everyone can pickle vegetables, cure fish or use a technique that’s going to enhance an ingredient. Those are the trends that I follow.
FSF: What can’t your customers get enough of? Most popular dish, especially among Miami foodies?
JDR: The Beef Cheek burger is certainly a fan favorite. As is the Crispy Pig Ears and Chicken Skin Chicharrones. Our oysters are unique and have been on the menu since day one. For the sweet tooth it’s a toss up between the Blonde Chocolate with house-made dip n dots or the Cracker Jack Milkshake and Almond Joy Bar.
FSF: Your favorite thing on the menu right now that you can’t stop cooking?
JDR: I’m really in love with the Dry Aged Ribeye with Potatoes, Carrots and Blue Cheese. Also, really enjoying the day boat Scallops with Red Quinoa, Charred Rapini, Chorizo and Brined Radishes
FSF: Be honest, does your family get the restaurant treatment when you’re at home? Do you whip up these kind of masterpieces for them or is it grilled cheese sandwiches for everyone? Ha!
JDR: My daughter is almost two. So we have been eating with her for a while now. She loves burger night at home with house-made fries and we all love mom’s chicken pot pie on Sundays !
FSF: The restaurant just recently celebrated it’s first birthday! Congrats! What big plans do you have or hope for it in the next year?
JDR: We are looking for other opportunities. Just signed an agreement with Miami Heat at American Airlines Arena for a Tongue & Cheek casual place for home games and events.