|Artist sketch of Norman -- no known photos of the man exist.|
Rumor has it that Norman is painfully shy. No known photos exist of the chef, which is why we have resorted to an artist's sketch based upon descriptions of those who claim to have seen him. The pre-opening promo says his son Justin will work as co-chef with Phillip Bryant, so we've gotta guess the elder Van Aken is no spring chicken.
Speaking of spring chickens, the Van Akens seem to have composed a rather smart menu for a couple of rookies. It actually reads better than the menus of many a seasoned chef. A nice mix of small plates, global foods, intriguing culinary combinations: pizzas, ceviche, salads, soups, cheeses, charcuterie, Key West yellowtail snapper -- impressive, although it might be noted that one or two items appear as though they might have been lifted from one of those old Mango Gang chefs. At least Norm is stealing from the best!
This sounds good: duck meatballs with carrot parsnip mash, Marsala-mustard reduction, and Ruth's relish (Norman is just getting started in the biz, but once he gets his feet wet, I'm sure he'll come up with relishes of his own). Another: Vietnamese poboy baguette with pâté, pork belly, and pickled paw paw slaw. Make sure not to order that one when your mouth is full.
Not to toot our own horn, but Short Order is quite in tune with the local dining scene, and we predict this restaurant will become the talk of the town. Furthermore, we are confident Mr. Van Aken will soon join the ranks of Miami's most notable chefs.
Remember: You heard it here first!
Westin Colonnade Hotel
180 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables