Prism Tastes: Lutum
October 19, 2017
Making a successful restaurant into a beloved neighborhood joint isn’t easy, but taking an already city-wide favorite and transforming it into something entirely different is even more difficult. That’s what’s been going on in Sunset Harbor where the once novelty Burger & Beer Joint was taken over practically overnight. It’s been an uphill battle for Lutum, but it’s definitely on a climb to something special.
After killing it on a solid pace at Taquiza, Washington Charles set his sights on a new Mexican dig in Sunset Harbor and gave it the name El Grito. He then took over the spot next door which, for many locals, was a sad goodbye. With its opening in August, Charles and his Lutum team have only one thing in mind: keep it simple. Because frequent customers knew the space as a burger specialty, he decided to create a menu with a strong nod to the space’s predecessors. Throw in a past Executive Chef for Michelle Bernstein, and you have yourself a strong Modern American destination.
Latin for “soil,” Lutum brings the restaurant experience back to the roots. A whole lot of wood and a welcoming atmosphere can go a long way, and here it definitely has. With a small selection of classic American dishes, they’ve taken the things we all love and made sure they do them well. It’s a limited menu but one packed with cultural twists, much like the city Lutum lives in. A little Latin here, some German there, everything comes together when you least expect it. And most importantly, it’s all seasonal.
Right off the bat, it’s hard to believe that a Miami Beach joint would be this affordable but that’s their M.O. They’re not trying to put on a show–drawing in patrons by word of mouth. And just like the spot that came before them, they’re building a relationship with the locals that help keep it alive. First introducing them to new things, then reading their experiences, and finally growing the menu at a smaller yet more articulated pace. They even have fun additions like a fried chicken night coming up based solely off of crowd-sourcing.
We started our dinner the way most meals should begin, with cocktails. The flavorful Sunset was first up, then came their take on a Gin & Tonic, the Lutum G&T, followed (thankfully) by the Pear Smash. We have to stop here for a second and stress that although their food is solid, their drinks are on a level all their own. If you can’t stay for a full sit down, we highly suggest chilling at the bar and taking your own tour through their drink menu. You won’t be let down.
Then came time for the reason we all went there, the food. The Burrata came first, a perfect palette cleanser with a grilled pear and arugula crisp. The Falafel Scotch Egg was up next, and a sumptuous surprise. We weren’t taken off guard by their Yellowtail Snapper being undeniably fresh, since we’re firm believers that beachside eateries should kill their seafood menus. Now onto the burger. Although they have a classic stack, they also have a rotating selection of burgers, each with a wacky, “Bob’s Burgers”-style namesake. Cue the ‘Coolslaw Runnings Burger‘ all gooey and comforting and will definitely keep you asking yourself “You Dead Man?” after finishing.
Coming from someone who was once a vegetarian, it makes perfect sense that Washington Charles’ latest venture has found a place that conveys who he is as a creative restauranteur. It’s raw, and simple, and straight from the earth. Flavors are forward and nothing is left to the imagination. If you’re looking for something truly solid, it won’t disappoint.
Photos by FujiFilm Girl.