With PB Station, the Pubbelly Boys Go Downtown With Finesse
Thoughts of Thailand don’t often spring up in American chophouses. Yet at the 2-month-old PB Station, a meaty slab of swordfish doused in a Meyer lemon vinaigrette evokes the piquant coconut soup tom kha gai. Both coat your mouth with unctuous fat before their acid grips and puckers your cheeks. It’s an ingenious match for the fleshy fillet.
Such nuance is new ground for the restaurant empire helmed by Andreas Schreiner, Jose Mendin, and Sergio Navarro. The self-proclaimed Pubbelly Boys first planted their flag in Sunset Harbour in 2010 with powerful, porky flavors served in hip digs. Recall their gussied-up version of the McDonald’s McRib sandwich dubbed the McBelly. After this initial hit came more than a half-dozen restaurants serving Japanese, French, and Spanish fare. Today the trio is among the city’s most ambitious, creative restaurateurs. Mendin’s 2015 nomination for the James Beard Foundation Best Chef South award reinforced it.
The offerings read like a timeline of Mendin’s evolution into a confident chef.
Now in downtown Miami’s Langford Hotel, they’ve taken on the American chophouse. The beaux-arts edifice, built as a bank in 1925, has been restored to glory with daunting archways leading into a white-marble lobby. The 80-seat restaurant is an explosion of monochrome subway tiles, with arches and mirrors creating a kind of metro stop on steroids. But other than a few items here and there, the menu — a collaboration between Mendin and executive chef Guillermo Concha — isn’t as assertive. The two-page spread offers salads, appetizers called “first stops,” and entrées dubbed “Grand Central” after the iconic New York City train terminal.