Miami chef Michael Beltran has officially opened the Gibson Room, an establishment the restaurateur simply calls “fun and delicious.”
Beltran tells new times that when the opportunity presented itself to take over the space at the edge of Miami’s Shenandoah neighborhood earlier this year, it felt like coming home.
Formerly the Mighty, Beltran took three months to revamp the longtime Coral Way establishment from a burger and beer bar to a more upscale version of a classic cocktail lounge.
“I grew up in this neighborhood and remember walking the streets as a kid. I feel very connected to this neighborhood. My grandparents still live a few blocks away,” Beltran adds. “I’ve always thought this space was special, but it was important to me to create a new-school cocktail bar vibe that was comfortable and fun, without being stuffy.”
Known for its growing family of Coconut Grove restaurants, Beltran stays busy between its new Michelin-starred restaurant Ariete, Navé (listed in the Michelin Guide) and Chug’s (winner of the Michelin Bib Gourmand), as well as bars like the Taureau and scapegoat in Miami Beach.
Now, with the Gibson Room, the chef says he’s created the perfect space for locals to meet after work or on weekends to mingle, share food and listen to music with a cocktail in hand.
“We want you to feel the smoky, sexy energy of Chicago blues and the vibe of New Orleans the moment you walk in,” he shares. “And the menu reflects what the space is meant to be: fun and delicious.”
Executive chef Kris Huseby, a longtime friend who shared the line with Beltran at Michael Schwartz’s Cypress Room, prepares the dishes alongside Beltran.
“He was the first person I thought of when we decided to turn the Mighty into the Gibson Room,” Beltran said. “I convinced him from retirement to bring him here, and the menu wouldn’t be what it is without him. He cooks with a lot of soul, and did the menu and the space a lot of justice, and to me that love and that soul is what makes the Gibson Room special.”
To that end, Beltran and Huseby have taken the cocktail bar theme to new heights with bar snacks like plain buttered popcorn, truffle chicken croquetas and in-house cured charcuterie. For now, find delicious chicken liver mousse, country pâté and morcilla as part of a program that Huseby says he will expand over time.
Likewise, the hors d’oeuvres are comfort food, ranging from grilled oysters and a “big ass Caesar salad” to “Tamal en Cazuela”, already a favorite dish of seared foie gras served with crispy duck chicharrón and dried fruits.
Larger plates feature a cast-iron fried chicken schnitzel served with a fried egg; a double patty smash burger; and handmade pastas like venison agnolotti bolognese or country ham and bacon strozzapretti.
The enhanced cocktail menu, led by Ariete Hospitality Group beverage director Tom Lasher-Walker, includes the classics, as well as newcomers like the “Forefather” (bourbon, apple brandy, sweet vermouth and amaro à la mint) and “Right Hand” (aged rum, sweet vermouth, red Italian bitters and chocolate bitters). Don’t miss the signature martini, nicknamed “The Gibson”, a classic gin and vermouth made with sherry and garnished with a pickled onion.
The star dessert is a lemon panatela that bills itself as an upscale version of lemon pound cake, one of Beltran’s favorite childhood treats. It is served hot with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
“I remember sharing a hot pound cake with my mom, dipping bites into the melting ice cream. It’s simple things like that, those resurrected memories that really make this place special.”
The Gibson room. 2224 Coral Way, Miami; 305-570-4311; thegibsonroommiami.com. Wednesday to Saturday from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. and Sunday to Tuesday from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.