Thursday, January 17, 2013

Khong River House, Miami

My apologies. I have become one of those bloggers who is posting photos that have already been posted on Instagram. However, I have to share the details of this amazing new restaurant in Miami with you, twice. If you don't know what Instragram is, the saying goes it is Twitter for people who don't like to read. Insta-photo-gratification is what I think it should be called. I had the privilege of working a conference with Elizabeth Duncan Events in Miami last week at the Grove Isle Resort and Spa and had many opportunities to show off on Instagram, another key feature to the social media tool.  Our first and only dinner away from the resort was suggested by the rooms manager Ben. We ordered the Thai pork balls to start. It was, after all, a very cool Thai restaurant focusing on the flavors found in the Mekong Delta region of Thailand. Don't try to order Pad Thai. It's not on their menu. They are focusing on being as authentically Thai as possible without the watered down, Americanized Pad Thai craze.

The restaurateur, John Kunkel, also owns the James Beard Award winning Yardbird as well as Khong. The Executive Chef for both is non-other than Top Chef hottie Jeff McInnis from Season 5. Correction, Chef Piyarat Potha Arreeratn aka Chef Bee is at Khong and Jeff McInnis is at Yardbird. (Thanks to the restaurants PR team for shooting me the correction note.)  So who did we spy at the bar? Non-other than Top Chef judge, Tom Colicchio. When we mentioned it to our waitress, she said, "Who is that?" Ha! I let the poor man enjoy his drink without photo bombing him, but I have to say it took everything in my power not to say hello. Instead I tagged the hell out of him on my Instagram feed!

The space is industrial but doesn't feel cold. It features corrugated steel lined ceilings, exposed bricks and a confessional wall for sinners, dreamers and truth tellers giving everyone something to gawk at on the way to the restrooms.

This is a Thai tradition that works as a living art piece in the space. The confessions are brutally honest and I imagine each board is burned in some awesome kitchen ritual every three months or so with a Monk flown in from the east for absolution and prayer. This has not been confirmed but please lie to me if it isn't true. Restaurants and religious ritual! I can totally get into that. As my father taught me, why let facts get in the way of a good story. My husband lived in Thailand and caught dengue fever while working there. I still have this image in my head that Monks took care of him and nursed him back to health. Thank heaven for those wonderful Monks! Who cares if it isn't true, right? The point is, he made it back alive, well and much refreshed from that scary experience.

Back in Miami this bar at Khong summons up ideas of toothless fisherman weaving baskets in the food markets. It is beautifully lit and covers one full wall of the restaurant. The unique lighting was made with fish traps, I imagine they were bought from said toothless maritime waterman in some wicked cool village thousand of miles away. I did call the restaurant to confirm, but no one answered. We made our reservation on Open Table and got a seat that evening.

The wood tables add a warmth to balance the space. We enjoyed the Gimlets featuring Thai basil. Notice the gold purse party in the background? When in Miami Rome, one must wear gold. Who am I kidding? I wear gold any chance I get in Charm City.

We split the Crispy Duck, ordered jasmine rice and stir fried broccoli as a side. All the items are meant to share.

I just adored the look of these pepper berries and the glazed plates are gorgeous. Every detail was thought of without a hint of white tablecloth stuffiness.

Tom Colicchio sat here. The place was pretty empty due to the Alabama v. Notre Dame game that was taking place at the exact moment.

The open kitchen is small and somewhat tucked away behind the bar wall. Their is no view of the kitchen from the dining areas, but again, it is something to behold before heading to the confession wall and restrooms.

The baskets looked like another art installation.

We decided that it should be a rule in the Gastronaut bi-laws that you can't pass up any coconut dessert when offered on a menu.  This photo is making my mouth water with memories of it's all-things-coconut on the plate. I've written about my love of coconut on this blog many times and so if any of you dear readers remember you know I was in dessert heaven. 

Thank you Elizabeth for such a wonderful outing and for trusting me with the restaurant choice. Ben! You couldn't have picked a better spot for us. Thank you again.


Terrill said...

Looked yummy on instagram and looks yummy again here! :)

Bmorebeehive said...

looked yummy on instagram and looks yummy again here too!

Worthington said...

Wow. What a gorgeous space and plating methods. I appreciate you sharing it with us!