If NIU Kitchen comes from the land of burning giraffes and melted clocks then we want to live in that land… in a house made of pan amb tomaquet, naturally.

IMG_1294If only Dali and his peculiar moustache were around to get a taste of a place that was made and tailored to their liking. On their behalf, we’d just like to say: thank you for being here today— thank you for bringing food like this to Miami.

Owners Karina Iglesias, Chef Deme Lomas, and Adam Hughes of NIU Kitchen have brought us a place that makes us ask ourselves (out loud): “is this for real?”

Situated on NE 2nd Ave., since this past June, NIU Kitchen has made downtown their home. At first glance, NIU is the sort of place that casual go-byers would easily miss. It’s only when you peek in through the glare window, past your mirroring image that you see a charming and tasteful spot with discolored wooden panels covering most of the walls of this narrow restaurant. Once inside, you’ll notice a miniscule 30-seat eatery with light bulbs hanging from the tall ceiling and unmatched plates serving as shades. Towards the back is NIU’s tiny kitchen and a black board that reads, “Eat with your friends, devour your enemies,” (our thoughts exactly).

The kitchen says it all for us. It’s unpretentious, open and has nothing to hide.

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It’s the type of kitchen where everything that comes out is cryptically enticing with a Spanish backbone. Opened for both lunch and dinner (crossing our fingers for a breakfast shift), we opted for a 2PM visit.

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Nobody ever listens to the daily specials.

If you think about it, the least we could do as customers— just hear them out, Hungries! It would be so unfortunate and your regrettable loss to not take a moment as the staff of NIU goes through a short list of dishes and ingredients that will do wonders for your mouth.

And yes, specials can always be scary. If you love them, chances are you won’t be seeing them for a while. And if you don’t, you just want to kick yourself in the face for not sticking with the everyday menu.

But, in order to live a little at NIU, we took the specials route.

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For our main courses we went with the rice of the day, sepia and shrimp soaked in a “ricey” broth (use the spoon for a full broth mouthful) and a calamari dish with a variation of a Catalan sauce called picada on top of a potato foam.

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From NIU’s exemplary lunch menu we went right for that cold, clear-like tomato soup with mustard ice cream and manchego pesto, a whole other experience—entirely different from gazpacho.

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We also shared freshly sliced jamon ibérico by Dehesa Cordobesa rolled up like chess pieces and pa amb tomàquet, “bread with tomato”—perfectly executed into small bites.

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Like our animated neighbors this was also our first time at NIU. We kept on looking at each other amazed at how impeccable each dish was presented and tasted.

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When it came to dessert, they said: just get all three. We dipped right into the estiu with mascarpone cream, berries, apple and balsamic vinegar basil sorbet.

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Regrets: only one, we should have tried the mató with eggplant jam, honey, hazelnuts and the ganache de xocolata rocking the Maldon salt, virgin arbequina oil.

We’ll be back for dinner.

NIU Kitchen is located at 134 NE 2nd Ave, Miami, FL 33132.