South Beach's PB Steak is truly a cut above

Andreas Schreiner, Sergio Navarro and Jose Mendin, otherwise known as the Pubbelly boys, have done it again. Their Midas touch has transformed a gastropub, sushi bar, pasta joint and tapas spot into gold. Their latest buzz-worthy baby, PB Steak, may just be my favorite.

If you thought Miami had enough meat markets, think again. This one is, ahem, a cut above. It starts with PB’s signature coolness, as close as Miami gets to Boho Brooklyn. Tattoos and shaggy facial hair are well represented, but so are expensive haircuts and Gucci bags. The soundtrack ranges from reggae to rock, indie and vintage, and the place itself exudes energy, integrity and an unpretentious confidence.

Price-wise, it’s a great value compared to swankier steak houses like Bourbon, Prime 112, STK and Red, with meat quality on a par or better than most of the best places in town.

The space is unrecognizable from its former incarnations (most notably Joe Allen). The ceilings have been stripped to expose bare wood beams, and the walls are lined with chalkboards and bovine butcher diagrams. Seating in booths and chairs at thick wooden or metal tables is close, but you don’t feel as if you are sitting in your neighbor’s lap.

And the food keeps the place crowded. Big-plate starters can be as decadent as foie gras brûlée with berry compote or French onion soup-filled dumplings. Off-the-chart must-tries include steak tartare sliders (gently handled raw sirloin on a potato bun with a hint of Parmesan and truffle) and chicken liver with toasted brioche triangles, baby greens and tiny, sharply pickled veggies.

A colorful beet salad with tiny marbles of goat-cheese croquettes, toasty pistachio shards and a maple dressing was delicious, though we missed the red and white ringed Chioggia beet promised on the menu. A chunky romaine number with a whisper of Caesar-style dressing, huge house-made croutons and fat anchovies is a keeper, too.

And don’t miss the addictive little gem of a ceviche taquito, a crunchy gyoza shell stuffed with miso-tinged hamachi, avocado, corn and a flourish of Bibb lettuce.

A massive cross-section of roasted beef bone exposes buttery marrow topped with tender short ribs, the richness cut by a smattering of bracing parsley The pork cheek and ricotta ravioli with hazelnut butter and green peas could convert a vegetarian.

A few Asian-inspired dishes, including the classic miso-roasted black cod, reflect chef Mendin’s Nobu roots, but the big draw is the beef, much of it sourced from Halpern’s, a family-owned Atlanta purveyor. The dry-aged Black Angus is cooked at super 1,200 degrees and finished with a dusting of sea salt.

A bargain hanger steak (here called butcher steak) is 10 ounces of juicy, slightly chewy, minerally meat served sliced and smoking hot, paired with a pile of not-to-be-missed fries. Steaks include skirt, strip, rib-eye and a 14-ounce, bone-in Kansas City cut that is a good as any I’ve had. The cowboy steak – Wagyu from Jackman Ranch in Clewiston – has intensely striated marbling that makes for incredible tenderness and luxurious mouth-feel.

Seafood is treated with equal reverence. Plump, moist swordfish steak cooked sous vide with clarified butter, garlic and thyme will make it hard to enjoy the fish any other way.

Sides can seem like overkill, but this is a steak house, after all. If indulging, consider the half-battered and fried asparagus sticks, the buttery potato puree with a roasted garlic jus or the bacon-studded brussels sprouts. The only miss was a floury, runny macaroni and Cheddar studded with extraneous escargot and porcini mushrooms.

A carefully crafted wine, beer and cocktail menu is well matched to the menu, with brews from Germany and Belgium as well as an oak-aged Scottish beer. A small but impressive collection of ports and dessert wines including a fine 1994 sauternes is thoughtfully offered by the glass.

Pastry chef Maria Orantes creates grown-up versions of childhood flavors like cinnamon bread pudding and PB & J with pickled grapes. But it is her exceptional apple pie with a subtle dulce de leche mousse topped with golden twizzles of kataifi pastry that wowed me.

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