Blue Collar: My Favorite Miami Restaurant
|Chef Danny Serfer wants to feed you.|
The first time I walked into Blue Collar, I was not charmed. The room is small, cramped, and sparsely furnished, and decorated with vintage lunch pails. Rock 'n' roll from the '70s blares over the speakers. The room is slightly smoky from the open kitchen that works with all burners fired to keep up with the seemingly never-ending supply of hungry diners. I generally like a space that's dark and quiet. If I could eat in a cave, I would choose to do so. Blue Collar, or so I thought at that instant, wasn't my type of restaurant.
But, like an eager puppy, Blue Collar worked its way into my heart. Not for what it isn't, but for what it is -- a place to just get a damn good plate of food.
Chef-owner Danny Serfer's smile is infectious. He's hands-on not only with his food but also with his customers. He's concerned not just about tonight's meal; he's concerned about converting you into a regular. He might point out the chalkboard filled with vegetable options (my personal weakness) or describe where he sourced his fish. He suggests. He cajoles. He's enthusiastic and he wants you to be as eager about eating his food as he is about preparing it.
Blue Collar does not present a meal that's petite and pretty. If you want edible flowers, go somewhere else. The curried puréed cauliflower is damn near ugly, but I find myself craving it like a junkie joneses a fix. Same goes for the pork and beans. And the Billy Corben -- twin brisket sandwiches served with a side of au jus -- is decadent, rich, and simply amazing. It's a meal that's interactive. You find yourself eating, laughing, and (ultimately) wearing your food by the time you're done.
Serfer (who I'm sure will love this tidbit) feeds every patron like he is a Jewish mother (or father, as the case may be). From over the grill, he talks to his guests, almost like he's conducting an interactive dinner party. He entertains, tuts, and frets over the meals. Always with a smile. Always making sure you're cleaning your plate.
Each time I finish my meal with a plaid Thermos of Panther Coffee (why doesn't every restaurant use Thermos containers to keep coffee warm?), Chef Serfer sidles over and convinces me that I do have room for fresh cobbler or bread pudding. At that point, I mumble something about being in a food coma. "Mission accomplished," he replies.
Mission accomplished, indeed.
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