Tongue & Cheek: Cheeky Food, Playful Cocktails (Scrumptious Pictures)

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All photos by Laine Doss
MIchael Reginbogen and Jamie DeRosa at Tongue & Cheek's bar.
It's happy hour at Tongue & Cheek. Almost every stool is occupied as the bartender explains the specials, which include $4 craft beers, $8 specialty cocktails, and the daily $10 "family meal." 

Before we get a chance to order, chef/partner Jamie DeRosa emerges from the kitchen wearing a gray utility shirt embroidered with the Tongue & Cheek logo. "No chef coats here," he says. "It's cooler not to wear them."

By cooler, he means temperature-wise in the kitchen, but there's no denying there's also a cool factor in the dress code at the restaurant, which gives off a vibe as much downtown Manhattan as downtown Miami Beach.

In fact, Tongue & Cheek's subway-tiled walls, Atlas lamps, and thick brown tables are reminiscent of Greenwich Village bistro Pastis. Prominently displayed in the dining room is a framed picture of an ox in a top hat and gold chains, one of the quirky animal mascots on the servers' T-shirts, the coasters, and the postcards that come with the check.

DeRosa is in a jovial mood, even though the restaurant's point-of-sale system is down. Actually, all Internet is down in the SoFi section of Miami Beach. With a laugh, he says that owning a restaurant is different from merely heading a kitchen. Attention must be paid to everything -- from keeping the music played at an even decibel to making sure the computers have 4G backup. But with ownership comes pride. "The juice is worth the squeeze," he says.

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Then comes the first plate, a cafeteria-style red tray with sections. It's the daily "family meal" ($10), served at the bar only. Today it's barbecued beef brisket, potato salad, souffle, corn on the cob, and a brownie for dessert. Served with a bottled "retro" soda of choice (we got orange Fanta), it's a good deal. DeRosa says that while he worked at Wolfgang Puck's Spago, neighbors would knock on the kitchen's back door during the restaurant's nightly "family meal" and the staff would invite them in to share the food. "I wanted to do something like that -- to cater to people who live in the neighborhood. I thought to myself: What can you afford to eat every day? So we came up with the family-meal concept."

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After the family meal, items arrive from the snack bar. A plate of almonds, sprinkled with olive-oil dust, are presented. Some are sweet, some spicy, some savory. All would go well with a cold beer ($5).

Location Info

Tongue & Cheek

431 Washington Ave., Miami Beach, FL

Category: Restaurant

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