Mina's Mediterraneo Now Open on Upper Eastside
Kobt's family is Egyptian. She grew up in Texas and lived in New York and London. When she arrived in Miami for the first time ten years ago, she left feeling like she might have something to come back to. In Houston, her parents own Mediterraneo, which has been in business for decades and is still run by her mom and dad.
"My mom is helping the cooks out in the kitchen while she's in town," Kobt says of Mina's. Everything on the menu is made from scratch, down to the phyllo dough used in the pastries. "The only thing we buy already prepared are the grape leaves, which come jarred," she corrects with a chuckle. "My mom said I should grow grape vines outside and use those leaves, but I'm not going to wait for those to grow."
The menu is extensive and, as Kobt wanted, embraces all of the Mediterranean region -- not just Greek and Middle Eastern, which are the first cuisines that come to mind when people think of Mediterranean food.
Indeed, there are Greek dishes such as spanakopita (spinach and feta pastries, $4), and moussaka (baked eggplant with potato, bechemal, and beef ragout, $12). But there is also baked beef bourguignon ($15), coq au vin ($15), osso buco ($16), and chicken Milanese ($14). All of the dishes are her family's recipes. The coq au vin, for example, was served as a special one night at her parents' Houston restaurant. It was such a hit that Kobt decided to make it a regular menu item at Mina's.
"And the lentil soup is the same lentil soup I've been eating since I was a kid," she boasts.
We were curious if she felt "behind the game" because she's relying on a back-of-the-house staff of seven to whip everything out of the kitchen. Nowadays, the name of the game is to have an up-and-coming chef at a new restaurant and have everything on the menu be chef-driven.
"I don't have to pay a chef, so I can keep my prices lower," she says. "My mom is in there training them and making sure they know how to make everything perfectly the way she would. What chefs are studying in culinary school is what my grandmother just did on her own."
Aiming to give Miami a great neighborhood restaurant, and possessing a tenacious knack for doing what works for her (versus what's trending), Kobt will be ready to greet customers at the door when they arrive.
Mina's Mediterraneo is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Thursday and Sunday from noon to 10 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from noon to 11 p.m.
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