“PHOTO BLOG” POST: Vagabond Restaurant (Upper Eastside, Global/International)

I really debated whether to write this blog post or not. I visited the Vagabond for Easter brunch with my family and a lot of family friends. Yes some of you may be noticing from the date just above that I am writing this in September (and late September at that)… I got pretty backed up on posts in May and then started a class that took up a lot of time and went on a couple summer trips and the posts backed up even more… But the Vagabond is my second to last one to catch up on (which I feel pretty proud of)!

I do think I have a pretty good memory and I do a good job of documenting adventures, so I can generally go back in time pretty well and recount experiences. I hesitated to do that with Vagabond though, because it’s quite a special place. Both the Vagabond Restaurant and the renovated Vagabond Hotel that it sits in are quite the hip places around Miami these days. Also giving the Vagabond Restaurant even more notoriety is that their chef, Alex Chang, was ranked on a list of the top 30 under 30 chefs in the nation from Zagat! Trying to recap an experience at the restaurant that was five months ago just doesn’t seem fair (even though I have a lot of raves).

Instead I am going to take the easy way out and do a “photo blog” post of sorts. I didn’t want people to miss out on pictures of the very cool space and some delicious food. I’ll provide some brief descriptions of what I was able to have, but try and keep that very brief.

For a little bit of background for those who are unfamiliar, US-1 (Biscayne Boulevard) used to be the main north-south route before the 95 was built. There are a lot of old motels along Biscayne Boulevard from those days (reminds me of Interstate Avenue or Barbur Boulevard in Portland). Some have fallen into quite disrepair. Some of were sort of kept up as cheap accommodations, but the Vagabond was the first to really be totally redone and brought back to it’s glory days. It’s marketed as a more affordable version to South Beach, but it is still very nice. Besides the hip restaurant it also has a cool bar along the pool.

The restaurant really fits with the retro, updated vibe of the entire hotel. It’s super bright and airy and covered in cool decorations. The gigantic bar in the centerpiece is a very cool focal point. I’m the type where the design, architecture, and vibe can affect my feelings on the meal quite a bit. I would enjoy a lot of meals because of this space.

We did a big sort of family style brunch for Easter with items pre-decided (I think it was a set Easter brunch for the restaurant). There were some things I could have and others I couldn’t. The menu is very unique. There are so many different flavors combined or interesting twists on traditional flavors. I was able to have the soft scrambled eggs, the roasted potatoes, and the shakshouka (eggs poached in a tomato sauce with rabbit, peppers, and onions). I also had a bite of the grain salad (mistakenly thinking it was just cauliflower). I wasn’t totally sure if there were grains in it that I couldn’t eat, but I didn’t feel the best afterwards (but also didn’t have a full on gluten reaction).

The shakshouka was quite interesting, but I enjoyed it. I think it’s a great example of the more unique kind of food at the Vagabond. The textures (poached egg, sauce, rabbit, vegetables) and tastes were all quite distinct, but quite an interesting combination. The roasted potatoes were also very good for just being somewhat basic potatoes. Quite a lot of posts previous to this about brunch/breakfast has had me raving about hash browns and lamenting the prevalence of home fries in Miami. That still remains true, but I was a big fan of these roasted potatoes and would eat them again very happily. The biggest surprise was just how dang good the simple soft scrambled eggs were. They came mixed with herbs, pecorino, and olive oil. I think the olive oil is what made it so soft and creamy. The pecorino added excellent flavor to the eggs. Everyone remarked that these were probably the best eggs we’ve ever had! It’s a great example of the chef taking something basic and making it even better or putting quite a twist on it.

I wasn’t able to partake in the cinnamon rolls, which looked incredible. People agreed they were good, but they were a little bit more standard compared to all the other incredible things that came out. There also was some house made vadouvan granola with yogurt and honey that people RAVED about! Rounding out the rest of the meal (or at least what I saw before I had to get to the airport for a work trip) was some very hearty and delicious looking bread and also some Benton’s country ham and eggs with white cheddar on an English muffin. People enjoyed both of those.

Overall I really enjoyed myself at brunch, even though number-wise my options were more limited. I loved the eggs and potatoes though and that was kind of enough to keep my happy. The shakshouka was also something I was happy to have tried (still not the most adventurous eater here). The experience definitely makes me want to go back and try more things and really get a better sense of all that Vagabond’s chef can do. The excellent food (that gets rave reviews) and the very cool space makes this a highly recommended, worth-the-drive spot in Miami. I hope to report back soon with more details, but check out the pictures of the space and food below!

The Vagabond Restaurant- 7301 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33138

http://www.thevagabondhotel.com/dining-en.html

The heavenly eggs!

The house made granola with yogurt and honey

The grain salad

The cinnamon rolls

The roasted potatoes

Bread!

The country ham and eggs

The shakshouka

The centerpiece bar

The cool retro look of the restaurant

The table set up for our brunch

The iconic sign along US-1

 

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