Prism Tastes: Pawn Broker & PB Station at The Langford
May 27, 2016
Consensus: Subtle yet flavorful, and locally-driven, both Pawn Broker and PB Station are yet another out-of-the-park win for The Pubbelly Boys and the city of Miami.
Few people have established as cohesive a presence in Miami’s food scene as The Pubbelly Boys have worked hard to create. Each of their outposts are equally as confidently themed, equally as experiential, equally as delicious. It may not be on the menu, but the welcoming staff and atmosphere is served in barrels, making you feel at ease almost instantly. This is what we came expecting when we entered their newest concepts at the newly restored Langford Hotel in Downtown, and spoiler alert: we were not disappointed.
Nestled amongst the bustling streets of Downtown Miami, The Langford hotel has become the city’s first truly historic hotel being built in 1925 and listed on the National Register for Historic Places. It’s nostalgic elegance and Beaux-Arts facade create a portal into what was once the glamour that founded Miami in the first place. Marble walls, vintage wallpaper, bell hops in newsboy hats, The Langford has refreshed our city with a tropical-meets-glamorous charm. But aside from the shelves of knick knacks and black-and-white photography, the hotel holds many hidden gems just waiting to be savored. So let’s get to it.
Up first is Pawn Broker, easily the best kept secret of Miami’s financial district. Another Pubbelly Boys creation, Pawn Broker’s prohibition-style charm inspires you the moment you step out of the elevator onto the penthouse watering hole. It’s simple, it’s to the point, and it doesn’t think anymore of itself than it should. Just chic enough to feel the detachment you need with an afternoon drink, the bar boasts a thematically entrancing vintage indoor counter adjacent to the diamond of the location: the rooftop. For a city so proud of its weather and views, we really can’t think of many good rooftop hangs in Miami. At least none that captures a local vibe as well as this one.
From their logo to their menu, from the witticisms lining their cocktails to the Stevie Ray Vaugh strumming in the background, the thoughtfulness in their presence and entire brand is well-curated. As usual with The Pubbelly Boys, everything has a deep-rooted intention behind it, generating conversation and opportunities for spontaneity along the way. Our outside table overlooked the city, rolling clouds draping the crimson sunset. We played around with quite a few cocktails: The Langford Speciale, a rum-based moonshine number with a flavorful blend of aromas; The Pawnbroker, their refreshing take on an Old-Fashioned with “a dash of apples and spice”; and the Giggle Water, a champagne drink served in a mini vintage bathtub and garnished with a vibrant orchid. All of the aforementioned libations are house favorites, but we would be remiss not to mention the Lady Lindy, a Mezcal creation reminiscent of Limoncello and warm summer nights. The food on the roof is equally as well put together (I’m looking at you, Wagyu Beef Tartar Sliders), some items you can try downstairs at PB Station, others are just for the lucky few up at the top. Don’t overlook the freshly-made Guacamole, topped with lump crab and seasoned to perfection.
Our heads ever-so light, we headed downstairs to PB Station for the main course (although it seems like we started off the night with dessert because Pawn Broker is pretty sweet). Modeled after the classic-style of underground train stations, The Pubbelly Boys got this one just right from the knowledgeable staff down to the cheeky bar menu (must try: The Yogi Berra). It’s clean, it’s not too dark (flooded with light during the day), and offers views into the upstairs hotel common room, vibrant wallpaper peaking out while you enjoy your appetizers. Speaking of appetizers, I was happy…nay…elated to see the French Onion Soup Dumplings of the former Pubbelly Steak on the menu, I almost cried fishing through the melted gruyere for that bite of short rib goodness. And although it’s tough to make a Bacon-Wrapped Date taste bad, their BBQ-inspired take on the crowd-favorite item with a mustard kick and coleslaw refresher were some of the best I’ve ever had.
The menu is just the right kind of diverse you’re looking for with eclectic variations of crowd-favorites and a few surprising items. We were pretty much in awe of the Seafood Charcuterie board, still salivating over the Rock Shrimp Mortadella. The “American Craft Eatery” praises its classics in a comfortable presentation while still nodding to the many cultures that have influences both our culinary traditions and the flavors that have nestled themselves into them. With dish after dish of thoughtfully-crafted creations from the mind of Chef José Mendín, it would have seemed we had no room left. Funny thing about dessert, though, you always seem to find space for it. The Flanrroz Con Leche was outstanding, particularly the dance of textures flooding the tongue; the Fudge My Life was satisfying, like a well-chilled Reese’s. But the real champion there is the soft-serve maple ice cream, a perfect pairing of cream and sweet.
As you can see, our experience was (unsurprisingly) spectacular. It’s easy to take some of life’s simplest pleasures and complicate them, throwing in the smoke screens and mirrors that come with many gourmet eateries. But The Pubbelly Boys know what’s at the root of our hearts’ content, satisfying desires we never knew we had. Now that’s magic.