Wynwood Yard is an outdoor culinary and entrepreneurial concept that occupies four lots on NW 29th street in downtown Miami. Within that space, you will discover the city’s first and only restaurant constructed entirely out of shipping containers – CHARCOAL Bar + Grill.
One step inside the magical courtyard and you experience an ambiance that is both industrial and chic. The tables reside under twinkling lights that are strung overhead creating a romantic vibe. You can elect to take a seat at the shipping container bar and have a craft cocktail or head to your table to enjoy your meal alfresco. If it is too humid to sit outside, you can choose to dine inside a shipping container (complete with air conditioning) located right across from the shipping container kitchen. In the tiny but efficient space, the grills are the focus. Food preparation takes place on two charcoal-burning, Spanish-made Josper grills that can reach temperatures as high as 800 degrees Fahrenheit.
Location: CHARCOAL Garden Bar + Grill is located at 82 NW 29th street at the Wynwood Yard, Miami, Florida.
Menu: The restaurant, created by local chef Ken Lyon, is focused on sustainability from the buildings to the menu and changes seasonally. Proteins are sourced mostly from Florida farmers and from North Atlantic seafood stocks. Organic produce is local as well, including all of the herbs and botanicals are grown on-site in the garden within Wynwood Yard. The food is prepared on grills to develop a simple, yet flavorful taste profile. Every sauce, main dish, and side is prepped in a commissary kitchen and brought to the restaurant for service.
Thoughts: The outdoor ambiance was so inviting that we dined under the lights. Our server was warm and friendly and offered some terrific suggestions from the menu which included charcuterie and seafood appetizers, grilled seafood, and grilled meats.
We started with a trio of American Farmstead cheeses which came on a board with quince paste, dried fruit, sliced baguette, walnuts, and almonds. The choices included an Oregon Blue, a sheep’s milk cheese studded with peppercorns from California, and an espresso and lavender rubbed cow’s milk cheese from Utah, all adorned with nasturtiums from the garden. The cheeses were all flavorful especially the espresso and lavender rubbed selection which was aptly called, Barely Buzzed. The next course was an enormous bowl of Atlantic blue mussels in garlic, and white wine broth served with sliced, grilled, bread. The mussels were intensely sweet and remarkably firm, and the soup was so fresh and garlicky that I considered asking for more toast to dunk.
Our entrees included three house favorites. The Josper roasted garden greens with garlic and olive oil were served in a cast iron skillet and had a nutty flavor from being grilled “en casserole.” The octopus (the house specialty) was slow simmered, sliced, roasted, and tossed in a sorrel, oregano, thyme, lemon and olive oil mixture that highlighted the clean taste of the seafood. The fruity dressing complimented the smoky flavor from the essence of the open fire and was so tender that it melted in your mouth. The D’Artagnan duck breast steak was grilled rare, accompanied by roasted potatoes and carrots with a drizzle of mostarda around the plate. The duck breast was tender and juicy due to the simple preparation of grilling. Without the addition of a heavy sauce, the mostarda, a Northern Italian condiment made of candied fruit and a flavored mustard syrup, added a spicy sweetness to the meat.
With hardly any room for dessert, the chef recommended the deconstructed strawberry shortcake. It was served with two buttery, crumbly, biscuits topped with a strawberry compote and fresh whipped cream. The presentation was colorful with the red reduction generously drizzled on top of the cookies topped with dollops of cream alongside flowers freshly picked from the garden. It made for a refreshing and light way to end a perfect meal.
Price range: The price of cheese or charcuterie boards range from $15 -$20 for two or three selections or $30 for a combination of five choices. Appetizers range from $12 to 18 dollars for various seafood or salad options. An iced seafood tray for $65.00 is a splurge but is a sampler of all of the seafood choices on one platter. Grilled vegetable dishes range from $9.00 -$12.00 and Grilled Meats and Grilled Seafood dishes range from $16.00-$30.00. A whole Branzino is available to share for $30.00 per person.
Disclosure: The writer was a guest of CHARCOAL. The visit to CHARCOAL was part of a trip to discover the wonders of the Wynwood neighborhood in Miami, Florida.
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