Cafe 46: It (Almost) Seems Like Old Times
|All photos by Laine Doss|
|Cafe 46: A restaurant with a past.|
About six months after Joe Allen's South Beach demise, Cafe 46 has risen, like a slightly-ruffled phoenix from the ashes. Mario Rubeo has taken pretty much the same menu and moved it across the causeway to Miami. It may be coincidence or plain dumb luck that the new restaurant is located on 46th Street, since the flagship Joe Allen is located on W 46th Street on New York's famous Restaurant Row.
Cafe 46 is still a work in progress. It's darker and less polished than Joe Allen. A substantial wood bar serves only beer and wine for now. Exposed air ducts and unfinished floors give the restaurant a bohemian quality. Servers are dressed casually, in sneakers and chinos, as is none other than Mario Rubeo who, once again, is working the door. He greets everyone who comes in, mostly patrons from Joe Allen who have heard about this second coming from friends, since Rubeo does not have a PR firm hustling to get the word out. "Hey folks," he says as he hugs me. "Good to see you, but it's not Thursday."
I should note that my husband and I ate at Joe Allen's bar every Thursday. When we first moved from New York to Miami Beach eight years ago, we didn't know too many places for locals that wouldn't break the bank. An internet search found Joe Allen. It was a familiar name, since I worked in theater for years and relied on Joe Allen in New York as a go-to place. The Miami Beach locale would become the same port-in-a-storm.
As I look at the menu, there's a serious case of déjà vu. Everything is the same -- from the type font to the pan-roasted matzo chicken ($15) that my husband craved for the past six months. I was almost teary eyed seeing my beloved bread pudding and banana cream pie on the menu.
|Pan roasted corvina with mashed potatoes and sauteed green beans.|
|This banana cream pie lets the bananas speak for themselves.|
As we waited for our car from the valet ($3), I spoke with Mario for a bit. He said the back of house staff is virtually the exact same crew, but most of front of house is new (and, to be frank, that's where Cafe 46 needs improvement). He said that he thought of retiring, but got bored. He spotted this space after a lunch in the neighborhood and knew this was the place. "When we opened Joe Allen on Purdy, it was industrial. There was nothing but warehouses in that area. But some condos had just come up and I took a chance. I feel the same about this neighborhood."
Déjà vu all over again.
|Ornate wood bar at Cafe 46.|
|Giraffe announces brunch at Cafe 46|