The M House Strives to Blaze a New Culinary Path in the City of Fine Dining
The diners of Coral Gables are not always kind to a newcomer, but so far the M House is finding a receptive audience for its bold new menu and its striking décor. Created by the late, great chef Alfredo Alvarez (of Seaspice and Giacosa fame), and now run by his affable and attentive widow Tara Nicosia, the M House is determined to become the city’s hippest upscale dining experience.
Interior wise, the M House is a stunner. Part of the new Aloft Coral Gables hotel at Le Jeune and Valencia (where the modish lobby feels like the break room at Google HQ), the restaurant shares the hotel’s 24-foot first-floor ceilings. Accentuating this dramatic space are striped terrazzo floors, white columns, sculptural cone-reed chandeliers, a grass-textured wall and floor-to-ceiling windows.
The layout is L-shaped, with a glowing bar on your right as you enter and a small, interior tree on the pivot to the main dining space. Metal racks above hold potted plants, framing this unique, designer space with green. In the center of the main room is a welcome rarity: A long table that can accommodate a large family or group.
Food wise, the M House is equally fresh and cutting-edge. Alvarez and Nicosia designed its cuisine while travelling the Mediterranean coasts of Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece.
“We call it Coastal European, because it’s different from what people think of when you say Mediterranean cuisine,” says Nicosia. The cooking is under the supervision of executive chef Abraham Silva, who trained under Alvarez at Seaspice (then known as Seasalt and Pepper) and more recently as executive sous chef at East Hotel in Brickell City Center. He shares his mentor’s philosophy of keeping things simple to preserve the natural flavors.
We tried a variety of appetizers, and were impressed by the deep sea scallops served on a creamy polenta; the incredibly fresh, savory hummus; the plump Prince Edward mussels; and the grilled octopus, which had an amazing flavor thanks to being cooked in the M House’s custom Josper Charcoal Oven. It’s this oven that produces one of best meat dishes on the menu, a plate of four lamb chops that have been marinated to melt-in-your mouth, then roast-grilled in the Josper. Delicious. The M House is also proud of another land dish, its short rib pasta with black truffles: perfect pasta, succulent meat, and a nice finish from the truffles.
Having praised its meats, M House is ultimately about its seafood. The signature – and most dramatic – dish is the whole roasted fish, perfectly done with the Josper oven. It is the high heat of this oven which sears the outside while leaving the inside tender and moist. Their octopus with troffie pasta (yes, they really know how to do octopus) is a creamy, tomato-based delight. Their Ora King salmon, if available, is perfectly grilled.
What is most appreciated at M House is an early devotion to a rustic approach to cooking, which, in a world where everything is over-processed, is its own mark of sophistication.
“The whole idea of simple food is to heighten color, texture and taste,” says Chef Silva.
The wine selection is also interesting, with a good array of whites from Italy and reds from Spain. When sommelier Simon Suarez asks you, “What direction do you want to go?” he means it geographically as much as gustatory-wise.
The whole idea of simple food is to heighten color, texture and tasteChef Abraham Silva
Our only criticism would be the electronic trance music, which is part of their hip vibe, but makes you feel like you’re at a VIP table in a club. But this can be forgiven for the youthful M House, which at two-months old is still finding its sea legs while it offers new fare to a stylish crowd.
So, be prepared for an overall experience that is somewhat theatrical, but remember it’s all about the individual dishes. M House has some of the most inventive seafood in the city, and is worthy of a taste test.
2524 S. Le Jeune Rd.