OTC Brickell is neighborhood delight

Posted April 9, 2013


When one thinks of over-the-counter food he or she thinks of a rushed concoction of ingredients with a high fat content and poor service.  The plate may or may not be adorned with an unrecognizable liquid called “sauce.”

So, it is understandable that foodies may be hesitant to try anything with the words “over-the-counter” in the title, but one new neighborhood gem in Brickell has put these words to the extreme.  OTC is a marvel in cuisine and if you have not tried it yet, your taste buds are missing out.

OTC is both charming and scrumptious: the interior elicits a modern yet rustic feel through its all-wooden vibe, from the walls all the way to the tables and chairs.  It also has a cozy little spot with adorable vintage mirrors and pictures on the wall with hand made chandeliers.  It is trendy and cool; hence it is in perfect harmony with the surrounding Brickell area.

But what makes OTC “restaurant gold” is not the décor.  It is that the restaurant combines an unprecedented pairing of food and service (or shall I say lack of service) that miraculously works.  Called a “friendly counter ordering system,” you walk up to the register, order, and sit.

It is the best of both worlds— you can chow on trendy comfort food in a relaxed atmosphere while not having to worry about your waiter interrupting you. You can sit comfortably, knowing that your order is in and pestering waiters won’t bother you.

But what if you need more ketchup, or some more napkins?  Does the self-service aspect of the restaurant compromise a good meal?  It enhances it.  You can go up to the counter the second you need something without having to wait for a waiter to approach you.  The owner also walks around himself and is happy to provide that little extra bit of service.

And one of the things the staff is particularly helpful with is the food.  The menu is written on an oversized chalkboard atop the register for easy viewing pleasure, but how do you make a decision when there are so many interesting options?  From dips, to fries, to salads, to sliders, who can make a decision?

Is it possible to choose between the braised short rib in homemade veal jus and the Maine lobster mac and cheese?  What about the deliciously crispy OTC bacon, egg and cheddar fries that come with a perfectly cooked egg on top?

That’s the beauty of this place — there’s no need to choose.  With moderately sized portions that are neither too big nor too small, you can order a little bit of everything with some friends and make it a meal to share. The menu even suggests this; it says “pair and share” above all of the written options.

But, if you are dining solo you may be forced with the feat of making a decision, and in that case you would have to go with the braised short rib.  This little joint sells more than 200 pounds of short rib per week and its no wonder they do. Everything about the dish is homemade all the way down to the veal jus.

The chefs take the bones and add fresh vegetables and cook the stew over a two-day period, and then braise the meat for six hours. It is actually astonishing how tender is it.  And the best part is that it’s all yours for the whopping price of $14.

But if your taste buds do not yearn for red meat, the lobster mac is second in command.  They bring in fresh Maine lobster that come live and still moving in which they de-bone it and cook a stock for two days; It forms a perfectly creamy lobster béchamel.

And you might as well not stop now.  Other delicious options are the foie gras mousse, pan-seared tuna sliders that come with three adorable little sliders, and truffle and brie cheese fries.

But if your not in the neighborhood for a nightly stop-by as this place is open until the wee hours of the night, OTC has fabulous brunches; the restaurant used to do Sunday brunch from 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m., but are now opening up to both Saturdays and Sundays because of the popularity.

The menu touts bottomless drinks, with your choice of Bellini’s, mimosas, and sparkling wine for $6 and the menu is just as creative as the regular menu.  Must haves are the chicken and waffles, which are freebird chicken tenders piled over fluffy Belgian waffles doused in maple butter and syrup, and the steak and eggs, which are their signature short ribs along with two perfectly cooked sunny side up eggs.

And this place has one more silver lining.  It doesn’t just serve beer and wine, no; they serve specialized craft beers — no bottles.  You won’t see any Heineken or Bud Light, but you’ll see rare and seasonal beers picked solely to complement your meal; Try the Shipyard Pumpkin Ale or the Sea Dog Wild Blueberry Ale.

From the youngsters in Brickell to doctors and lawyers who want to stop buy for great food, to late-night college kids, OTC doesn’t just offer great food.  It’s an awesome no-frills neighborhood spot with unbelievably original and moderately priced food.

  • Where: 1250 S. Miami Ave., Miami, Fla.
  • Phone number: 305.374.4612
  • Neighborhood: Brickell
  • Parking: Street
  • Attire: Casual
  • Takes Reservations: No
  • Hours of operation: Sundays: 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m.,  Mondays-Thursdays: 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m., and Fridays-Saturdays:11:30 a.m.-2 a.m.
  • Web: http://otc-restaurants.com