Niu Kitchen certainly isn’t one of the hottest tickets in town but Executive Chef/Managing Partner Deme Lomas has earned some street cred as he was a semi-finalist for the James Beard Award ‘Best Chef: South’ in 2016.
We made a reservation a couple days in advance and didn’t have a problem getting our preferred time. They don’t seem to be particularly busy but that probably has something to do with its location. Niu Kitchen is located in downtown Miami, in an area which can get pretty quiet and gritty at night.
There’s a parking lot close by as well as a lot of street parking. If you come on a Sunday, you’re in luck – it’s free parking in the lot all day.
The restaurant itself is super tiny. It occupies a narrow space with just enough for a set of tables to line each side of the restaurant. Niu Kitchen has a rustic and cozy feel to it with one wall covered in what looks like reclaimed wood planks.
Niu Kitchen describes themselves as a Catalan-style (a northeast region of Spain) kitchen . According to their website, “Like Catalans themselves, we are eclectic and just a little bit eccentric. We mix the local with the exotic. The seasonal with the sophisticated. We play with the finest regional ingredients and make them simply extraordinary.”
The menu is divided into several sections: “to start with” (many dishes of which are seafood-focused), “to share” and “something else” (entrée-sized). There were a number of dishes I wanted to order but after listing four dishes, our server stopped me and said it would be enough food. I think he underestimated our appetites as I wasn’t quite full when I left the restaurant.
Our meal started off with the Pa Amb Tomaquet ($3.50) aka tomatoes on toast. Like avocados on toast, it’s a very simple dish but can be so satisfying.
Up next was the Llamantol – Maine lobster, avocado, 5 min mashed egg, trout roe ($15). While it consisted of a tasty combination of ingredients and flavours, I felt it needed a bit more texture as most of the ingredients were quite soft. Perhaps serving it with some crostini would have done the trick.
Another small tapas we ordered was the Ous – poached eggs, truffled potato foam, jamón ibérico, summer black truffle ($15) which was very similar to the soft egg dish we had at Alter a few nights before.
Niu Kitchen’s version was also very rich, comforting and all-in-all delicious. However, I have to give the slight edge to Alter.
For a more substantial dish, we ordered the Branzino Filet – warm garlic & green chile vinaigrette, jamón ibérico ($27). I was actually thinking about ordering the ribs but the lady at the table next to us was raving about the branzino so we left it up to our server who seconded the branzino choice. I think my eavesdropping paid off! This was a killer dish.
The branzino was cooked to perfection – so nice and flakey! I also loved the warm garlic and green chile vinaigrette which topped the fish. There wouldn’t be a thing I’d change about this dish. A must-order!
Overall, we had a nice meal at Niu Kitchen. I wouldn’t call it a must-visit spot but if you’re in the area, it’s definitely worth a visit!
At a glance:
- Executive Chef/Managing Partner Deme Lomas, was a James Beard Semi-finalist in 2016 for ‘Best Chef: South’
- Catalan-style kitchen (a northeast region of Spain)
- Very tiny restaurant located in Downtown Miami
- Highlight: Branzino filet
Ratings (out of 5):
- Food: 3.5 stars
- Service: 3 stars
- Atmosphere: 3 stars