Sunday, January 19, 2014
Cobaya Anaya at OTC Restaurant
The first Cobaya Dinner of the year was hosted by OTC Restaurant located in the Brickell area of Miami. In the kitchen was chef Jacob Anaya. This was Jacob's first solo Cobaya but he had one under his belt already. He was in the kitchen for the Cobaya at Azul that was attended by Andrew Zimmern and featured on Bizarre Foods.
Jacob has spent the majority of his career cooking in fine dining establishments around the world. He started his culinary career at Campton Place in San Francisco where he trained under Michelin starred chef Laurent Manrique. Subsequent to that, he moved to Australia and worked at a couple of top spots. Prior to moving to Miami he was chef de cuisine at Pahu i’a at the Four Seasons Resort Hualalai on the Big Island. Prior to that he was in the kitchen at the Ritz Carlton, San Francisco and Silks at The Mandarin Oriental in San Francisco.
Prior to joining OTC he was chef de cuisine at Azul restaurant inside the Mandarin Oriental hotel. While there, they received the prestigious Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Award for 2013 and the only one in Miami.
OTC opened last year as a fast causal spot specializing in craft beers. When Azul temporarily closed last summer owner Michael Sullivan wisely jumped at the opportunity to bring in a talented chef like Jacob. He started in August and gradually started working on menu changes which were fully implemented in November. The counter service concept was ditched and they upgraded to a full service establishment while continuing their strong emphasis on craft beer. They currently feature 12 beers on tap that they constantly rotate while focusing on trying to keep most of the beers local.
They recently debuted a daily happy hour featuring 50% off six of their craft beers, all wines by the glass plus select $5.00 food items. They also started serving weekend brunch from 10:30-3:00 highlighted by Jacob's chilaquiles and Hong Kong duck n waffles. They also offer bottomless mimosas for $20.
At OTC, Jacob is using his lengthy fine dining experience along with his modern skills to cook fun and reasonably priced fare without sacrificing quality or flavor.
For Cobaya, Jacob got to flex his fine dining muscles once again. He had a plan and a theme which was to feature the heads of several animals. He came up with a very creative menu that was fun, tasty and in the Cobaya spirit.
His dishes were interesting and packed with a lot of flavor combinations that worked well together. There were at least two dishes that I scooped up as much of the remaining sauce as I could in order to savor one last taste. I found his flavors to be well balanced and thought his overall execution was solid.
There is an open kitchen at OTC and I popped over a couple of times during the meal to check in on him and he was always smiling, never sweating and he looked like he was genuinely having fun. That makes me smile because that's what Cobaya is really all about.
If you haven't been to OTC yet I would recommend paying Jacob a visit. It's a great opportunity to enjoy the food of an accomplished fine dining chef in a casual setting and at affordable prices.
Jacob and OTC should be neighborhood gems for years to come.
A big thank you to Jacob, Michael and the entire team for a great night. And thanks to the guinea pigs in attendance and all of you who continue to support us.
This was taken during the middle of service. Like I said, no sweat and all smiles.
Upon arrival guests were welcomed by an unidentified elephant and a Brown Bag. Cobaya Eyes Wide Shut!? Inside the bag was a Crispy Fried Pig's Ear with smoke salt, citrus dust and chili powder.
Bag number two featured sous vide giraffe ears. It was actually a Rice Cracker that was microwaved and shaken with cheese dust tapioca malt. Unfortunately, I neglected to take a shot of the goods inside the bags.
The pre dinner snacks continued. Out next was a tasty Spaghetti Squash with dried kabocha chips, housemade goat cheese ricotta espelette.
Another nice bite featured a forkful of Grilled Squid Head with anchovy mousse, garlic dust, and greens.
The quiet before the Cobaya storm.
The invasion of the Guinea Pigs gone wild.
Course one, Hard-Headed was a Local Lobster Crudo paired with a delicious combination of green olive purée, dried olives, burnt ruby grapefruit lobster head dressing and baby shrimp.
Two Heads are Better than One was another all around delicious dish. Pictured above is a pre fish head broth shot of pork head cheese, a 1000 year old egg, squid noodles, malto green chive oil and chive tips.
Cheeky Guys & Gals paid a visit for course three. Here, Jacob served a very flavorful dish featuring an EVO poached grouper cheek and a braised veal cheek with red pepper glaze. They were paired with flavors of celery; puréed, pickled, shaved and picked.
The Ice Man! Pacing was perfect all night and he never broke a sweat. He's a machine.
Silence of the Roasted Lambs Head.
The last savory course of the night was easily my favorite. And it was a salad! Jacob served slices of very nice lamb tongue paired with shaved rainbow carrot, carrot curry purée, golden raisins, toasted nuts and white balsamic dressing. This was another wonderful and balanced flavor combination.
The meal ended on a surgical note via It's Not Brain Surgery. Jacob's brain included white chocolate, red velvet cake, raspberries purée, drunken cherries and cherry smoke.
1250 S Miami Ave
Miami, FL 33130