POPULAR SOMI SPOT TO GET AN UPDATE
One of South Miami’s most popular restaurants is slated for some enhancements in the coming months. Town Kitchen & Bar, now in its 14th year, will be introducing a few new menu items and also updating the décor, according to executive chef and managing partner Michael Altman. Located in the Plaza 57 building, the restaurant has been a, well, “town favorite” since opening in 2006.
“Town, because of what it is, has withstood the test of time and we don’t want to change that,” Altman says. “We just want to freshen things up a bit.”
So what, exactly, is Altman planning? “We’ll still have the dishes we’ve been known for but our guests will notice more vegan items as well as some new salads and fish dishes.” A recent addition to the menu – a Filet Mignon sandwich with horseradish aioli, roasted peppers, caramelized onions, provolone cheese and baby arugula – has already proven to be a hit with diners. “They’re flying out of the kitchen,” says Altman, who is also adding a Bloody Mary Bar where guests can order over-the-top (literally) versions of the classic Sunday Brunch cocktail.
WHAT’S OLD IS NEW AGAIN
Altman is also bringing back some classic dishes Town regulars have been asking for. One such customer favorite from Town’s early years is the Sizzling Steak for Two, a hefty, 24-ounce N.Y. Strip sautéed with garlic butter and rosemary, then sliced and served on a skillet with a choice of sides. Pair that with a luscious, full-bodied Caymus 2017 Napa Valley Cab and it’s a meal to remember.
Speaking of wine, Altman is very proud of Town’s beverage program, which includes a vast wine list that’s been recognized year after year by Wine Spectator. There’s also a robust selection of beers and craft cocktails such as Town’s signature “Effin’ Cucumber,” a light and refreshing vodka-based drink.
Beyond tweaking the menu, Altman says he’ll also be adding outdoor booths, cushions, curtains, and tables, and giving everything a fresh coat of paint inside and out. He’s already created an outdoor cigar lounge and one Friday a month he converts Town’s “Sidebar” – a private space off the main dining room – into a speakeasy where entry requires a secret password available to those who follow Town on social media.
From New York to South Miami
Born and raised in Long Island, Altman, 45, got his interest in cooking early on, helping out with his father’s catering business as a young teen. Later, he worked his way through college as a cook, and ended up at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York.
Altman moved to Miami in 2005 with his wife, Cari, a Miami native whom he met when the two worked for different restaurant groups in New York City and were introduced by a mutual friend. His first job in Miami was as a cook at the exclusive Riviera Country Club. After working his way up through the kitchens of some popular Miami restaurants, he was tapped in 2006 as Town’s executive chef. Just one year later, he was promoted to managing partner.
Altman says South Miami is a great community with an interesting mix of longtime residents and new families. He marvels at how the city’s dining scene has changed over the past 14 years.
“In 2006, there was Beverly Hills Café, Deli Lane Café, Jake’s and a few others, and Town had just opened,” he recalls. “But now there are lots of other restaurants to choose from here.”
Is he worried about increased competition? Not in the least, he says with a confident smile. “Competition is a good thing – it keeps you on your toes and makes you strive to keep doing better,” Altman says. “Town’s regulars dine around a lot but they know when they come here, our staff will greet them by name and know their preferences. It’s why they keep coming back.”
Peter B. Laird