Tongue & Cheek
431 Washington Ave.
One evening last week my husband Kenny and I were strolling around posh South Beach in search of dinner, hoping to find a restaurant that would seat us without reservations. After passing several tourist-driven joints along Ocean Drive – loud thumping bass beats and over-priced menus included – we ventured farther away from the Deco Drive strip and happily settled into a table at Tongue & Cheek.
I had heard of the sophisticated-yet-comfortable place, mainly because Chef Jamie DeRosa previously worked with some big-shot chefs, including Food Network’s celeb-chef Geoffrey Zakarian (of Tudor House). Luckily, they were able to squeeze us in on a busy Saturday night, even if it meant sitting right next to another couple at a half-booth two-top.
Tongue & Cheek offers a menu of gastropub-style offerings, and while they also serve up a nice selection of handcrafted cocktails, whiskies and other spirits, we ordered a couple of $6 craft beers – a White Rascal for me and a Bell’s Two Hearted IPA for him. We also started off the meal with the cheese plate, which came with three cheeses (3 for $18) – a cow’s milk Thomasville tomme, jalapeno white cheddar, and parmesan – plus fresh honeycomb, buttered toast, sweet jam, Marcona almonds and crisp green apple slices.
I’d been recently craving seafood, and I was pleasantly surprised to enjoy the sweet ginger beer sauce my steamed Bouchot mussels ($17) were swimming in, especially when combined with crumbles of spiced Chinese sausage. Kenny went for the beef cheek burger ($19), and while the patty was a bit smaller than desired, the meat was juicy and topped with rich cheddar pimento cheese and sweet onions piled on a house-made brioche bun.
The highlight of the meal, however, has to be the “poutine” we shared. Admittedly, this was my first experience with the rich, cheese-smothered French fries, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed. (I mean, really, how could you?) This version ($12) was served with succulent braised brisket, cheddar cheese and crispy salty pastrami.
The name of this joint might be a play on words, but there’s no joke Tongue & Cheek serves up hearty meals with big, bold flavors. It’s a place where you can fully indulge in a bevy of bad-yet-oh-so-good dishes. Just don’t expect to hit the beach or don a bathing suit right after your meal. Instead, I might suggest walking off that cheese, meat and potatoes by strolling a ways down South Beach’s bustling Ocean Drive, where you can also wash your meal down with a cocktail at a trendy lounge. Besides, didn’t your mother always tell you not to swim after eating?