No, not THAT Big Easy.
This Big Easy Winebar & Grill comes to Miami from the Western Cape region of South Africa, by Ernie Els (nicknamed Big Easy, for his stature and smooth golf swing) and the Grove Bay Hospitality Group.
Offering a taste of authentic South African cuisine, the restaurant is now open at the shiny and new Brickell City Centre. One look at the menu and I could not wait to dig in. I didn’t know where to start; too many options, too little time. Every category (Tid Bits, Starters, For the Table, Salads, The Grill, Sauces, Sides, Chef’s Butter, Ernie’s Favorites, From the Sea, Chef’s Selections, and of course, Desserts) listed something interesting or that I just had to try. Luckily I’ve visited twice (once via a media invite, and the second time on my own) and have been able to try a good portion of the menu. The wine list features mostly South African wines, including blends from Ernie Els’ own vineyards in Stellenbosch.
Set against a rich earth-toned palette, the restaurant’s effortless and rustic chic decor honors Western Cape: imported furniture, leather banquettes and chairs, rustic wood finishes, carved wood accents, and framed black and white photographs (of Els’ career and travels). Visible from most seats in the main dining area, the open kitchen sits towards the back of the restaurant. The South African native and Executive Chef Maryna Frederiksen can be easily spotted supervising and working her way around every station. The hostess, wait-staff, and manager all provided knowledgeable service with a genuine smile both visits. The staff worked nonstop, scurrying here and there without much down time. Napkins were often refolded multiple times when patrons momentarily left the table (a nice touch not often seen at casual restaurants). I also noticed a waiter meticulously rearrange all the placemats on a table until they lined up perfectly centered with each chair. I love attention to such details.
What I’ve tried:
For me, it was love at first bite of the Pork Belly Lollipops. How could I resist the sweet BBQ sauce, decadent nature of the pork, and light crisp of the skin? The Durban Bunny Chow (for the record: no bunnies were harmed in the making of the dish) featured a slow-roasted lamb shank served in an artisan bread bowl: hearty soul food meant for stretchy pants and a happy heart. Sure, you can’t ever go wrong with a warm Nutella Bread Pudding for dessert, but the gold star at Big Easy goes to the Malva Pudding: not too rich, just the right touch of sweetness, served hot and topped with an Amarula creme anglaise. You want it.
I already have my eye on the Angry Duck Curry, Grilled Nigerian Prawns, Roasted Peri-Peri Chicken, and a couple of the salads for any future visit. Yes, I said “salads.” Several of them passed my table and piqued my interest #truestory. If you read my blog regularly, you know that doesn’t happen often.
Given Miami’s need for additional ethnic eats of this kind, it seems Big Easy Winery & Grill already fits in nicely on our culinary roster. Welcome!
Big Easy Winebar & Grill
701 S. Miami Ave.
Miami, FL 33131
Sunday- Thursday 11:30am- 11:00pm
Friday-Saturday 11:30am- Midnight