It’s been six months since our A+E Eats contest, which searched for a new local restaurant in Miami to set up shop in the Arts & Entertainment District. We’re checking in on some of the participants to see what they’ve made happen since then.
Chef co-owners Justin Sherrer and Lisetty Llampalla are taking a new spin on Cuban food at Doce Provisions, now open in Little Havana where the beloved Little Bread Cuban Sandwich Co lived before closing earlier this year.
After competing as finalists in our A&Eats contest in November 2015, Sherrer and Llampalla started looking for their own place.
“We felt like we killed it with [our Little Bird concept], and it gave us an opportunity to get out into the community and meet a lot of people. It gave us a kick in the ass that we need our own place,” says Sherrer, who also works as executive chef at Cinebistro. When we meet, he’s preparing for Captain America the next day.
They looked at a dozen locations before learning that Little Bread, a favorite of theirs, was closing. Sherrer reached out to the building owners (who also own Ball & Chain) with their concept, which pairs classic Cuban dishes with Southern staples like fried chicken, mac and cheese, and crispy brussels sprouts.
Our sample spread included the chorizo croquetas, made with chorizo from Miami Smokers and a spicy mostaza ($5), the Cubano with sorpresatta, smoked pork loin, and mojo mayo ($8), and the short rib burger with queso frito and truffle aioli ($10).
Llampalla, who left her executive chef job to staff the restaurant full-time, says, “This is the first time I can make the food I want. I do one sauce, I don’t like it, I can do it again. I can just show myself when I cook. So I give thanks to all those years when I was learning a lot.”
The space is small and cozy, with a modern rustic decor. Sherrer says he likes the intimate setting. “It’s nice to have a place where you can have the one-on-one interaction and talk to people.”
He says one guest came in surprised at the $12 price for a main course of puerco chino and maduro fried rice. “I said, ‘I’ll make you the best fried rice you’ve ever had.’ He left happy.”
“Hopefully a year from now we can show our stuff, impress a lot of people, and we’ll be opening Little Bird.”